Rejecting an invitation to further talks with Britain's Employment Secretary, William Whitelaw, the Executive of the National Union of Miners (NUM) on Tuesday (5 February 1974) voted unanimously to call an all-out strike from midnight Saturday (9 February).
GORMLEY: "I think the strike will start -- in fact I'm sure it will start - at midnight on Saturday night; just when the pubs close."
REPORTERS' QUESTION: "So you're authorising picketing -- could there by any trouble with the police?"
GORMLEY: "No, we shall invite no trouble with anybody. We shall organise peaceful picketing wherever it's necessary and it won't be the miners' fault if there's violence at the pickets. We shall be supplying identity tags to the officials so that the pickets will be easily recognisable. We can't say there won't be trouble because there may be other people ... (indistinct) ... that have nothing to do with the miners. But the official instruction that will go out is that we organise peaceful picketing wherever necessary."
Q: "Now you are not providing safety cover during the strike -- is there a danger that some pits might close?"
GORMLEY: "Well, there's always a danger when you're involved in a battle, it just depends what you mean. Because we have agreed, although we've said no safety coverage, we have said that we will provide cover if there an emergency, such as fire, flooding or methane or things like that -- in such circumstances we will provide coverage. But it must be after consultation with the national committee that has been set up.
THERE FOLLOWS A TRANSCRIPTION OF MR. GORMLEY'S COMMENTS ON FILM DURING THE PRESS CONFERENCE:
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Background: Rejecting an invitation to further talks with Britain's Employment Secretary, William Whitelaw, the Executive of the National Union of Miners (NUM) on Tuesday (5 February 1974) voted unanimously to call an all-out strike from midnight Saturday (9 February). Meeting at their London Headquarters, the 27-man Executive decided to implement forthwith the mandate they were given in last week's ballot by 81 per cent of the miners to with-draw their labour in support of a wage claim.
The resolution came on the 85th day of an NUM overtime ban, that prompted Prime Minister Edward Heath to put Britain on a three-day work week to save fuel stocks. The miners are demanding a pay boost in excess of the limits set down by the Government's counter-inflation policy.
Miners' leaders Mick McGahey, Lawrence Daly and Union President Joe Gormley told newsmen after the meeting that they had set up a special committee to organise the strike. They would be meeting leaders of other key union to seek their support.
On negotiations with the Government, Mr. Gormley said the Executive opposed any further "abortive meetings".
Reacting to the miners' decision, the Employment Secretary said no Government could have been more reasonable in offering a solution. "Surely ???rational way out can still be fowed," Mr. Whitelaw said.