The TUC congress opened on 3 September in 1984. There was still time to rally the working class to the miners.
But months before the TUC had been manoeuvring to get themselves in as mediators between the miners and the government, so that a deal could be fixed that would end the strike.
But the congress would want something better. So the leaders were forced to trim and fake.
The NUM had put down an amendment calling “for industrial action involving all trade unions.” The furniture union FTAT called for a 24-hour general strike. But under pressure, these were withdrawn in favour of a resolution recommending a boycott of coal, coke or substitute oil moved across NUM picket lines.
But the rail workers, seafarers had already been giving such support for months. Some power station workers too. A few more power stations did start boycott action, but, as it turned out, not enough to be decisive.
The TUC resolution strengthened NUM appeals for solidarity, and we something to build on, but it wasn’t much at all.
The question arises: would it not have been better if the NUM leaders had pushed the call at congress for a general strike? It would have been a rallying point for the militants and the left. Our predecessor, Socialist Organiser, thought so at the time.
But the lack of an organised rank and file movement was especially critical in the weeks after the TUC. This lack ensured that the solidarity produced was not more than the TUC leaders intended.
3 September: TUC pledges support for the NUM.
12 September: TUC attempts to organise talks between the NUM and the NCB. NACODS ballot to strike over instructions to cross picket lines. The result of the ballot 82.5% for a strike was announced on 28 September.
18 September 1984: Three-week dock strike is called off.