The museum made people aware of the closure due to strike action through a statement on its website. It stated the industrial action will deny its visitors “the chance to hear the story of mining.”
The statement reads: “The museum, a charity, cares about the welfare of its staff and volunteers and has offered staff a pay rise which equates to 6.8 percent for the lowest paid staff. We value the contribution of our people enormously and the sum of the proposal takes us to the maximum allowed within the government pay remit.
“Even at this late hour, we still hope that this situation can be resolved, particularly as the strike is timed for school holidays which will deny our visitors, many of them children, the chance to hear the story of mining and understand the contribution generations of miners made to our nation.”
The museum is located at Caphouse Colliery, a pit which first opened in the late 18th century. From 1827 to 1917 the colliery was owned by the Lister Kaye family. The mine had become exhausted by 1985, the year the major strike came to an end. It was then the mine was converted into a museum, and it reopened its doors as a place of learning in 1988 as the Yorkshire Mining Museum. In 1995 it was given national status.
Writing on social media, the Wakefield branch of Unison said that despite the closure of the museum, there will still be “a lively and friendly” picket line at the main entrance of the museum during the strike. They added people could join the picket to “show solidarity” reminding supporters to “bring your union banner”.
The union also added that those on the picket line today (October 26) will be joined by former National Union of Mineworkers President, Arthur Scargill. Mr Scargill led the miners through the bitter, near year-long dispute in 1984-85.
Unison Wakefield District Branch revealed the news on social media, with one tweet reading: The phone has just rung. A voice said "hello, it’s Arthur Scargill" and then like I might not know who he is he said "I used to be the President of the NUM". I said “I know who Arthur Scargill is". Anyhow, long & short of it is that he’s joining us on the picket line tomorrow.”