THE fight for better redundancy pay for Britain’s last coal miners has seen 39 MPs across the country rally together to write to the Government.
Labour politicians representing coal mining communities want the Government to ensure miners at Kellingley in North Yorkshire, get an enhanced pay-out.
When the last shift finishes on Friday, it will be the end of an era for the British coal industry, as Kellingley is the country’s last remaining deep pit.
The miners are expected to get statutory redundancy pay but this is a financial pay-out worse than miners got under Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, Labour MP Yvette Cooper has said.
In a letter penned to Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and Sajid Javid, Business Secretary, the group of MPs are asking for the Government to work ‘urgently’ with UK Coal to make give a fair deal to ‘the last British miners’.
The letter said: “The Kellingley miners have done their bit to save the Government money, and stayed loyal to the coal industry and their communities to the very end.
“The very least you can do now is show them the respect they and the coalfields deserve and give them a fair deal now.”
The MPs represent coal communities from Wales, the Midlands, Merseyside, the North East as well as Yorkshire.
They argue that the miners did everything they could to try and save the pit from closure, and shouldn’t be out of pocket as their jobs come to an end.
While UK Coal has said it will give Kellingley staff severance pay, there is uncertainty around the coal concessionary deal that the National Union of Miners had expected would help staff aged under 50, or those getting temporary work.
The deal ensures a free delivery of coal for ex-pit workers, or a cash lump sum instead.
The letter continued: “When UK Coal was at risk of imminent collapse the miners pulled out all the stops and increased production and were even willing to risk their own money in order to keep it open with a workforce buyout. When UK Coal nearly went bust they were ready to accept changes to their pensions and working arrangements to keep the pit open.
“If the workforce hadn’t stayed with the industry, the Government would have lost the millions in tax that UK Coal owed, and would have been landed with the bill for closing Kellingley pit – so the Government is saving tens of millions of pounds.”
“Yet despite often decades of service keeping our lights on, powering our factories and fuelling the nation, the last British coal miners are being offered the worst deal of any of the hundreds of thousands of miners who have left the industry over many decades.”
Miners made redundant under Margaret Thatcher during the 1980s and in almost all the pit closures since that time, have had enhanced redundancy pay as recognition of the difficult and skilled job they have done, and the limited alternative skilled work available.
The signatories include Labour MPs Ms Cooper, MP for Normanton and Castleford, Jon Trickett, Hemsworth, Mary Creagh, Wakefield, Caroline Flint, Don Valley, Rosie Winterton, Doncaster Central, Sir Kevin Barron, Rother Valley, Dan Jarvis, Barnsley Central, Jo Cox, Batley and Spen, John Healey, Wentworth and Dearne, Angela Smith, Penistone and Stocksbridge, Michael Dugher, MP for Barnsley East, and Nic Dakin, Scunthorpe.