Miners' identity and the changing face of the labour process within the UK coal mining industry
Purpose: Much current academic writing focuses on the changing nature of work in the services sector, particularly with regard to the implementation of new technological processes. Bringing attention back to a traditional industry, coal mining the paper considers the impact of technology upon the labour process and identity of coal miners. Methodology: The paper is based on qualitative research undertaken by an ex-coal miner and draws upon interviews with workers in five of the UK’s remaining deep coal mines. Findings: The paper demonstrates how the introduction of new technology in the mining industry has intensified workplace monitoring and surveillance. Despite this, we identify how complete management control over the labour process has not been possible. As the paper will show, miners draw upon their identity as autonomous workers in order to mediate the impact of technology on their working practices. The underlying belief of miners is that the capabilities of new technological working practices do not extend to replacing them at the coal face and that their unique identity as coal miners, combined with the unusual nature of the job, provides them with a force for mediating management control. Originality: The paper offers a unique insight into the impact of technology upon the identity and labour process of a group of workers from a traditional heavy industry.