Colliery ‘at risk’ letters were sent too soon, say NUM

Kellingley Colliery
Kellingley Colliery
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A MINING union has accused UK Coal of acting prematurely after it sent redundancy notices to staff at two under-threat deep coal mines, before funding for a closure plan was finalised.

Last month workers at Kellingley Colliery in North Yorkshire and Thoresby in Nottinghamshire agreed to back an 18-month closure plan, backed by £20m of government and private funding.

Today around 200 staff at the two collieries and UK Coal’s head office in Doncaster will receive letters telling them they are at risk of redundancy. But Chris Kitchen, general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), criticised the company, which has not yet formally signed the closure funding package.

He said: “This is not unexpected because UK Coal plan is to make everyone redundant over 18 months, but it is strange that they are continuing with a plan that has not been financed and could change at any minute. It seems a bit premature.”

The union is supporting miners considering an employee buy-out at Kellingley and is also calling on the government to press for European funding to keep the mines open. It believes that Kellingley, which has been losing money over the last 12 months, can be profitable, and said last week it produced 48 tonnes of coal when just 38 tonnes were planned, an extra £1m in revenue.

UK Coal confirmed ‘at risk’ letters had been sent to 14 staff at Kellingley, 36 at the head office and 182 at Thoresby, although the NUM believes more staff who had put forward for voluntary redundancy will also be contacted.

UK Coal spokesperson Andrew Mackintosh said it was aware of the buy out plan, but without the financing deal, of which redundancies are part of, the company would go into liquidation next week, and the buy out would not be an option.