Miners' strike at 40: Poland vows to 'learn from mistakes' of North East mine closures

Rachel Bullock investigates lessons that can be learned from closures of mines in the North East

Polish officials have vowed to "learn from the mistakes" of the closure of mines in the North East as the country looks to go coal-free.

Around 80,000 miners currently work in the country, but it wants to close its coal industry by 2040.

However, Government officials are keen to ensure communities are not left decimated like North East communities when pits closed in the region. They sent a team to Dawdon in County Durham to try and learn from the impact of the closures.

"We have a Polish proverb. Smart people learn from their own mistakes but really smart ones learn from other people's," Grzegorz Treton from Just Transition Poland told ITV Tyne Tees. "We like to give more sense of security. We want to learn something from Britain here."

Thousands of mine workers went on strike over pit closures 40 years ago. Credit: ITV Archive

Communities across the North East are still feeling the effects of the closures which had been a source of employment for generations of people.

Tracey Thompson, whose father was a miner at Dawdon, said she is not surprised that other countries that have transitioned from coal are hoping to avoid the same legacy left by the region's pit closures.

"It's just not the same anymore," she explained. "You knew when you left school then you had a job. You knew you had a trade to go into and could work in that trade until you were 60. But you can't do that now.

"There's a lot of people that when the pits finished just never worked again because they didn't have the skill set to do anything else."

Tracey Thompson has seen the effects of mine closures in Dawdon first hand. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The 40th anniversary of the miners' strike has led to renewed calls for funding to be delivered to areas affected by the pit closures.

"We've had a number of governments, of a number of different colours who have promised levelling up," said MP for Easington Grahame Morris. "It is 40 years on now and we need some recognition from government nationally and locally that areas like this, coal closure areas, need some support.

"Not a handout, but a hand up."

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