A memorial to the struggle and hardship of the miners' strike was being unveiled today at a ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the end of the dispute.
The 12-month strike, one of the most bitter industrial disputes in history, began in March 1984, with the aim of securing jobs, communities and the coal industry.
Today saw the official unveiling of a three-metre glass artwork at Sunderland Civic Centre, marking the "suffering and heroism" of those infamous events, which came to an end 25 years ago to the day.
However, Conservative councillors decided not to attend the event, the Echo understands.
Dave Hopper, general secretary of the Durham Miners' Association and National Union of Mineworkers at Wearmouth Colliery, was due to be among guests at the ceremony.
Deputy council leader Coun Florence Anderson helped man picket lines outside Eppleton Colliery and was chairwoman of the Eppleton Area Miners' Wives Support Group during the strike.
She said: "This is a memorial to the strike, the industry and its heritage and to a heroic struggle and the strength of feeling at the time.
"We are remembering all of this with the memorial."
Coun Lee Martin, leader of the Conservative Group on Sunderland City Council, issued an "apologies for absence" statement on behalf of its members.
He said: "We would have been delighted to have been present at today's proceedings had they simply involved a tribute to our miners, but in all good conscience we cannot attend to commemorate the anniversary of the 1984-85 miners' strike.
"However, we recognise that this will be a poignant and emotional occasion."
The artwork, which is nine square metres and weighs more than 150kgs, was created by Sunderland University graduate Dan Savage.
The panel, positioned in the glass entrance to Sunderland's council chamber, features images and symbols of the strike and the North East's mining heritage.
Dan said: "In designing the piece, I have been fortunate to be able to work with individuals who brought first-hand experience of the miners' strike and were able to express their thoughts passionately."