Why bitter memories of the 1948 French miners' strike still linger

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A major strike by coal miners in the north of France three years after the end of World War II still casts a shadow over industrial relations in the country. The few surviving miners from that era and families of other strikers continue to battle for justice over the criminal convictions many of them were given when the dispute came to a violent end with the aid of riot police. A book just published in France recounts the stories of the men – and women – who paid dearly for the strike and whose children, and even grandchildren, have continued to suffer the consequences. Dominique Conil reports.

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It was an episode in French industrial history that took place more than six decades ago. But the bitter memories of the 1948 coal miners' strike in the industrial north of France still remain for those few strikers still alive and their families who continue to battle for justice. Now journalist Dominique Simonnot of French investigative weekly Le Canard enchaîné has written a book about this major two-month industrial dispute, which was crushed by a socialist government with the help of 80,000 troops and which led to six deaths, jail for many strikers and the sacking of 2,950 miners.