Towards Industrial Action [Black Flag report on Burnley Congress for Industrial Action]

A Congress for Industrial Action took place in Burnley on January 19. It was initiated by the Burnley Miners Support Group and members of the Direct Action Movement. Speakers included Peter Heathfield (General Secretary NUM), Dave Douglass (Hatfield NUM delegate) and a delegate from the NUR, Tony Crowther (DAM National Secretary).

Heathfield gave a very general speech, but Dave Douglass (who introduced himself as a NUM delegate and a DAM supporter) tore into the Labour Party and the TUC leadership as well as the trotskyist groups who spend their time paper-selling and doing fuck all. There were a few trots in the audience, but not many as their respective leaderships had instructed the bulk of them to boycott the congress for sectarian reasons. Douglass then went on to thank the DAM for organising things and referred to the NUM as also being a movement of direct action.

Tony Crowther then angrily denounced Kinnock and his hypocritical pleas against violence, as well as the NUR/ASLEF leadership who are doing their best to contain secondary industrial action, rather than widen it. A Labour MEP then spoke from the floor, pleading with us not to set our sights too high, while at the same time patronisingly telling us not to get too pessimistic. A power workers delegate then attacked TUC guidelines relating to the use of oil where coal supplies have been blacked: he explained that these guidelines made a whole mockery of the blacking. Instead he called for mass picketing of the power stations and a boycott of the guidelines. After a break the congress was broken up into syndicates and later convened to formulate proposals and a common strategy.

The final recommendations were: to organise at rank and file level for industrial action, to back-up any regional initiatives for regional strikes, to call upon other regional congresses to follow suit, to spread the idea that all support groups should be made permanent (not only to help out the mining communities in their hardship, once the strike is over — whatever the result— but also to provide mutual aid for others taking industrial and community action and to serve as a focus for class resistance), and to urge support groups to take more of an active role on the picket line. Finally there was also a call from the floor for more support from local groups of the large numbers of pickets imprisoned and for a list of these prisoners to be drawn up and where they are being held.

Black Flag vol.VII, No.125 28/01/1985

[Black Flag No.124 (14/1/1985) carried an advert for the ‘Congress for Industrial Action to be held at Burnley Labour Club on Sat. Jan. 19th at 10am. Speakers:  Peter Heathfield, General Sec. Of NUM, Tony Crowther, Nat. Sec. Of DAM (NUR), A speaker from Yorkshire NUM. The above Congress for Industrial Action has been initiated by the Burnley Miners Support Group. Invitations have been sent out to all miners support groups and trade union branches to send delegates.’]