Blenkinsop’s rack locomotive Salamanca, Middleton to Leeds (UK) coal tramway, 1812 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Goods train carriages marking George Stephenson’s Rocket and other locomotives and mining technology, Killingworth, Tyne and Wear, UK. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Coal car of 1829 originally used by the coal mine in South Hetton near Newcastle, in the Transport Museum in Nuremberg, oldest existing railway vehicle outside UK Deutsch: Kohlewagen von 1829 des englischen Kohlebergwerks in South Hetton bei Newcastle im Verkehrsmuseum in Nürnberg, ältestes existierendes Eisenbahnfahrzeug außerhalb Großbritanniens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is an excellent read from Stephen Castle the NYT‘s correspondent in London. He highlights that the once mighty economic enterprise that “put ‘great’ into Great Britain” has succumbed to pressure from cheaper imported coal.
Source: Lights Out in Britain for the Coal Industry – The New York Times
I’m old enough to remember the mine workers strikes in the 1970s. This was of course the time when the UK’s unions thought that they could walk on water. Sadly, the trade union policies of this period probably helped to reduce the UK’s proud industrial base. Of course, as the article points out, the miners received tops wages for high risk jobs.
Now we have globalization and UK miners need to go to the coal if they want to stay in the industry. Open this link to see coal mining production by country.
Personally, I’m in favor of globalization and open markets – unfortunately, the downside is that trade unions have lost much of their power and labor has become commoditized.
Apart from global competition, traditional jobs are being replaced with technology.
Rather than become dinosaurs and disappear, I wonder if the trade unions could evolve and find a new role for themselves?