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Trade unions Frances O’Grady calls for ‘maximum unity’ at miners’ strike memorial

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady is calling for maximum unity among workers in the face of continuing attacks against working people.

She gave the address at the National Union of Mineworkers headquarters in Yorkshire on Saturday at the annual lecture in memory of David Jones and Joe Green, two miners killed on the picket lines during the 1984-5 strike against pit closures.

Praising the two who made the “final sacrifice” fighting for their friends and their communities, she said: “Let us make them proud of us by fighting where they left off.”

She quoted Vic Turner, one of the Pentonville Five dockers jailed in 1972 for secondary picketing.

“I asked Vic what trade unionism meant to him. He said: ‘In the end it is simple. It is about working people helping each other.’

“That stayed with me. Whether it is the government attacking us, employers dragging us through the courts or press barons demeaning us, our opponents can never crush our spirit,” she said.

Ms O’Grady said the spirit of the miners’ strike lives on in current struggles, including university lecturers and staff striking to defend their pensions and the Ritzy Picturehouse chain cinema workers fighting for decent pay and union recognition.

GMB general secretary Tim Roach also emphasised current struggles and successes, including the union’s defeat of taxi firm Uber over use of false self-employment.

He slammed today’s “unequal” Britain, in which the 100 richest people own as much as the 19 million poorest.

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