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Scargill in strike anniversary call

Former National Union of Mineworkers leader Arthur Scargill has joined fellow trade unionists to celebrate the 40th anniversary of a key victory during the 1972 miners' strike.

Now aged 74, the ex-NUM president said he had vivid memories of his role in the Battle of Saltley Gate, which saw at least 15,000 Birmingham engineers walk out to support a picket by striking miners.

Around 100 trade unionists, many carrying banners, gathered near the site of the long-defunct Saltley Coke Works to commemorate the events of February 10, 1972.

Addressing the rally, Mr Scargill recalled how he had secured the support of local engineering union members in the days before February 10 - when the police were finally forced to close the gates of the coke works.

Mr Scargill, who was then a member of the union's Yorkshire area executive, told the crowd: "I said 'You have got a choice - you can either stand on the sidewalk and watch what's happening or you can join us and march into history'.

"To the eternal credit of the workers in Birmingham, they joined the miners on the 10th of February."

Mr Scargill added that the events being commemorated had crystallised everything he believed in as a trade unionist, showing what working people could achieve if they were prepared to come to the assistance of workers in different industries struggling in a just cause.

"We lit a flame and we showed the way forward," he said, adding a call for the lessons learned in 1972 to be "translated" into the modern era.

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