South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has joined his Scottish Labour colleagues by calling for a wider pardon and compensation scheme for those unjustly convicted during the 1984/85 miners’ strike.
Last week, Scottish Labour MSPs Pam Duncan-Glancy and Richard Leonard submitted amendments to the Scottish Government’s Miners’ Strike Pardons Bill that would extend the pardon to family members, friends and all those standing in solidarity with them, and to incidents in communities, as well as establish a mechanism for financial redress.
Hundreds of miners were arrested during the dispute, with more than 200 sacked as a result. This meant they lost out on wages, pensions and redundancy payments, as well as suffering the injury and hurt of being branded criminals for defending their livelihoods and communities.
In Scotland during the 1984/85 strike you were twice as likely to be arrested as anywhere else in the UK, and three times more likely to be sacked.
Colin Smyth said: “I’m immensely proud to represent a region truly steeped in Scotland’s mining history.
“Indeed, many of my own relatives worked in pits in Upper Nithsdale until the demise of the industry in the 1980s.
“However, these convictions were a travesty – it is very unlikely many of the miners would have faced prosecution for their actions today.
“Miners were badly let down. No one should experience what they did, just for standing up for their rights at work. And neither should their family and friends, or those who stood in solidarity with them.
“This historic injustice has affected whole communities for decades. It’s high time we sent a clear signal to workers everywhere that they can stand up for their rights, without fear of losing their job or being criminalised for doing so.
“A pardon for the miners and their families is long overdue but we need to go further.
“Miners were arrested by Scottish police, prosecuted by Scottish procurator fiscals and sentenced by Scottish sheriffs in Scottish courts.
“Scotland has a historic opportunity to right these wrongs and finally give these families the full justice they have deserved for so long.”