This book tells the tale of how the coal and steel industries in the North East of England have been contracting over the past two decades, and places their decline in the context of national economic strategies, international market forces, management control and ideology. This book is divided into three parts. The first part examines the pattern of change in the two industries in the late 1970s and 1980s. It focuses on the change in international markets, the growing privatizing tendency (via sell-offs, sub-contracting, and the expansion of open-coal mining) and the increasingly rapacious disregard for the environment. The second part traces the decision to close a particular colliery. It documents the closure step-by-step as the decision became the first to go before the Independent Review Procedure. The implementation of the closure is examined, as are its social costs and consequences. The concluding part reflects upon the current situation in the North East, the attempted development of an "enterprise culture", and the employment practices in both the steel and coal industries as one is privatized and the other faces a return to the private sector.
This situation is seen to pose real problems of strategy for any future publicly owned sector of industry.