It was argued that paying any more would have harmed working-class people unused to such amounts of money. Adjusted for inflation, the amount originally taken from the Fund would have been worth roughly £1,500,000 in 1997. Because of this, the community had to continue to fight for anything resembling justice despite the Tribunal blaming the NCB for the disaster. Rima Majed spoke to rs21 about the blast that devastated Beirut in the context of an existing political and economic crisis. Here's why it took her eight days to visit, as depicted in 'The Crown' season 3. The refusal of the NCB to admit responsibility, even in the face of so much incriminating evidence, meant that the Tribunal dragged on for 76 days, unnecessarily protracting this ordeal for a community in mourning. The Covid-19 pandemic is combining with further government attacks on the health service to push the NHS, and its workforce, into unprecedented crisis. Robens, who as Chairman of the NCB had previously urged the government to take action against unofficial strikes and secondary picketing, was presumably one such “decent man”. Then as now, the choice between livelihood and safety had been forced upon a disempowered working class. The Covid-19 pandemic is a foretaste of the approaching climate catastrophe. It took just five minutes for the coal tip above Aberfan to engulf Pantglas Junior School Credit: Getty - Contributor Ear hanging off and head injuries. Socialists are fighting against borders around the world. Miners are a tough breed, we don’t show our feelings, but some of the lads broke down. No one was rescued alive after 11am on the day of the disaster. The conduct of Robens in the aftermath of the disaster and throughout the subsequent Tribunal was to prove emblematic of the neglect that was blatantly responsible for the collapse of the spoil tip. Watch recordings of the opening speeches here. The NCB’s stance was supported by the Wilson government, which proposed expropriating money from the Aberfan Disaster Fund to contribute to the NCB’s costs. The people of Aberfan had no choice but to pay the £150,000, an amount that almost cancelled out the £160,000 they had received in compensation.

Yet many had been reluctant to campaign for its removal, knowing that the cost of doing so would have caused the end of coalmining in Aberfan. Adam Blanden argues that this represents the acceleration of Britain’s transformation into a ‘speculator state’. Although the Tribunal Report had established that the NCB was legally liable to pay compensation, the amount was not decided.

The absence of a law that holds company chief executives personally responsible for deaths due to the negligence they’ve presided over is a huge gap in health and safety law – which continues to let culpable bosses off the hook, even now, 50 years on from Aberfan. On hearing news of the disaster on Friday 21 October, Robens did not immediately head to Aberfan. The NCB refused to pay for the tips to be removed without a substantial contribution to the cost of doing so. Instead, £150,000 from the fund was allocated to clear the surrounding coal tips – an operation that was clearly the responsibility of the NCB. Despite the unavoidable conclusions reached on the strength of the evidence submitted, the Tribunal of Inquiry failed to recognise that being responsible for the disaster meant being responsible for the murder of 144 people. It was accepted that they could have done nothing more than accept the NCB’s claims that the situation was under control. Rescue workers search for victims of the Aberfan disaster, in South Wales, 1966. Almost half the schoolchildren and five of the teachers at Pantglas Junior School were among the dead. In one morning, 144 had been killed, of whom 116 were children. Its stance was supported by the Wilson government, which reneged on its promise to have the tips removed.

The springs underneath the spoil tip that caused it to collapse onto Aberfan had been marked on Ordnance Survey maps as early as 1873, and were well known by the villagers, whose concerns about the tip had been repeatedly ignored by the NCB.

Instead, he chose to attend a ceremony where he was being installed as Chancellor of the University of Surrey. On 26 October 1966, the Wilson government appointed a Tribunal of Inquiry to establish what had happened at Aberfan, why it happened, whether it could have been prevented, and whether anyone could be blamed for it. Working-class people living in unsafe housing, or damaging their health through exploitative employment practices, remain afraid to speak out against powerful landlords and employers, knowing that to do so means risking losing their housing or their livelihood. This verdict absolved Merthyr Tydfil Borough Council and the National Union of Mineworkers of any blame for not taking their concerns about the Aberfan spoil tip further. The NCB was able to treat the working class with contempt and continue to do so because it was integral to the state’s economic strategy. The efforts of the people of Aberfan and the neighbouring mining communities were in vain. Like the recent disaster at Grenfell, Aberfan was the direct result of a working-class community being treated with contempt, their concerns disregarded. As was demonstrated through the course of the Tribunal, this was a lie. At 9:15am on Friday 21 October 1966, a colliery spoil tip collapsed, and slid down the mountainside onto the mining village of Aberfan in South Wales. While politicians squabble over degrees of lockdown, Covid is spreading in educational settings. Villagers continued to petition the Minister of State for Wales, George Thomas, to remove the tips. A bereaved husband and parent despaired: “I was tormented by the fact that the people I was seeking justice from were my people – a Labour Government, a Labour council, a Labour-nationalised Coal Board.”. The Fund had been set up by the Mayor of Merthyr immediately after the disaster, and, by the time it closed in January 1967, had received donations totalling £1,606,929 from nearly 90,000 contributions. And, in 1965, Ann Jennings, the headmistress of Pantglas Junior School, had presented a petition against the tip to Merthyr Tydfil Borough Council, signed by the mothers of the Pantglas schoolchildren.

The Tribunal Report’s conclusions were typified by its claim that those responsible were “not villains but decent men, led astray by foolishness or by ignorance or by both in combination”.

Miners came from across the nearby South Wales collieries of Merthyr Vale, Deep Navigation, and Taff Merthyr to help uncover the children buried at the school, and, by the next day, 2,000 emergency services workers and volunteers had descended on Aberfan. It has been said that Queen Elizabeth's biggest regret is her response to the Aberfan mining disaster. Education workers must force the politicians to make their schools safe.

Leslie Cunningham reviews Fortunes of Feminism by Nancy Fraser, a critical account of changes in feminist thought in the era of neo-liberalism. Had the slurry reached the school only a few hours earlier or later, most would have lived. There … However, it refused to pay for the removal of the spoil tips which remained above Aberfan. But to add insult to injury, this was not given in full to the Aberfan community. You have entered an incorrect email address! When he left ten years later, there were 292 pits employing only 283,000.

When the coroner conducted his inquest on 30 of the children the following Monday, the Merthyr Express recorded the following: As one name was read out and the cause of death given as asphyxia and multiple injuries, the father of the child said “No, sir, buried alive by the National Coal Board”. As was demonstrated through the course of the Tribunal, this was a lie. The Aberfan disaster took place 54 years ago today (Picture: Jim Gray/Getty Images) Today marks 54 years since the Aberfan disaster which claimed the lives of 116 children and 28 adults. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. When Robens, a Labour MP and minister in the Attlee government, was appointed chairman of the NCB in 1961, the UK coal industry employed 583,000 miners in 698 pits.

Eventually, the money taken from the Disaster Fund was repaid by the Blair government in 1997. In 1966, 300,000 cubic yards of coal sludge buried a Welsh primary school, and 19 houses in Aberfan, Wales. However, these findings were nothing more than what was factually incontestable and merely proved what the victims had already known.

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