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Tolpuddle Festival

There was a good UCU turnout this year at the annual TUC Tolpuddle Festival  in Dorset, on 18th to 20th July.

UCU South-West region (led by Bath) had a gazebo on the lawn in front of the main stage. That’s the first time, I think, UCU has had a stall of its own.

We marched with four UCU banners: Southampton, Bath, Keele and Newport (Wales). We also had members from Birmingham City in the march. And University of Southampton Unison marched with their banner too. In the past, Southampton has been on its own.

I bought a miners strike anniversary badge from Anne Scargill. I’ve been down a working (then) pit (Markham, by the M1 near Bolsover): out and back on the man-riding belt and crawling along a working face between the coal-cutter belt and the collapse behind the props. It’s not a career I’d want to take up.

Rose brought along the copy of Zola’s Germinal that she has been reading since we visited the Calais Mining Museum at the end of June.

But now—still—there’s no work at all in many of the villages. Visit Easington Colliery if you dare.

I was also only a couple of years out of junior school myself when the Aberfan disaster happened. The A470 dual carriageway to Merthyr runs over the tip site. And the government stole from the disaster fund to finance moving the tip—eventually to make way for the road.

That was a Nationalised industry cutting fatal corners—although the pits were even worse under private owners. At least they all  got pithead baths when Nationalised.

Denis Nicole

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