South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has said it is a huge disappointment that the Scottish Government has chosen to block Scottish Labour’s amendments, which would have established a mechanism for financial redress for those unjustly convicted during the 1984/85 miners’ strike.
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.
On Tuesday (May 10), Justice Minister Keith Brown told the chamber: “Although the amendment is not being voted on today, I must speak to it, because it is in front of us. The amendment does not specify what would be compensated for, nor does it specify an amount to be paid or the basis for calculating such an amount…. That is not to say that compensation is wrong, but the bill is not the place for it.”
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: “It is a huge disappointment that the Scottish Government chose to block Labour’s amendments, which would have established a mechanism for financial redress.
“I hope a compromise can be achieved, and the National Union of Mineworkers has suggested a one-off payment of a set amount, depending on the charges each miner was convicted of, which I would back.
“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.”