Informal talks have opened between the UK's mineworkers’ union and the biggest rail union in Britain with a view to a merger, it was learned today.
Officials from the National Union of Mineworkers have met leaders of the Rail Maritime and Transport union and further talks are planned.
The possible merger has been discussed by the RMT’s executive and the union is said to be keen to continue talking with the NUM.
Membership of the NUM has fallen from around 500,000 after the Second World War to a few thousand today following the closure of most of the UK’s coalfield.
In contrast, the RMT, headed by leading left winger Bob Crow, has seen its membership increase in the past few years to more than 65,000.
The two unions have a long history of co-operation and once formed a powerful triple alliance with the transport workers’ union.
The NUM was once the most powerful trade union in the land and, led by Arthur Scargill, was involved in one of the most bitter conflicts in British industrial history during a year-long strike against pit closures 20 years ago.
Under the current leadership of Steve Kemp and Ian Lavery, the NUM has failed to stop the loss of jobs in the once mighty coal industry despite passionately arguing for investment in coal.