Mine set to close amid row over ‘ransom’

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BRITAIN’S biggest coal miner is drawing up plans to close Daw Mill deep mine with the loss of about 800 jobs because it cannot strike a pay deal with a union.

In a letter to staff, seen by the Yorkshire Post, Doncaster-based UK Coal said it plans to create a “viable smaller business” by closing the West Midlands mine early.

This will leave the company with just two working deep mines – Kellingley in Yorkshire and Thoresby in Nottinghamshire, dealing a heavy blow to British mining.

UK Coal told staff its offer of a 4.7 per cent pay rise and 4.7 per cent lump sum bonus in 2012 – was rejected by the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM). The company claims this is the equivalent of a £1,000 pay-hike for miners.

The UDM accused UK Coal of holding its members “to ransom”.

UK Coal’s executive chairman Jonson Cox said in the letter to staff: “The board has commissioned external advisors to draw up the options for the immediate suspension of further development and the early closure of Daw Mill. This work will include the steps necessary to preserve the rest of UKC’s mines, by creating a viable smaller business.”

Mr Cox said the review is starting now and advisers will report in the new year – although it could act sooner. He added the company will try to draw up a “viable 2012 plan” as an alternative to closure – but has just three weeks.

Heavily-indebted UK Coal, which has 2,600 employees, did not put a date on the closure.

Daw Mill has enough coal to continue mining until 2028.

UK Coal said the deal is recommended by the NUM and accepted by the BACM, MPIS and NACODS.

But UDM president Jeff Wood said the pay deal is not being offered equally to all miners.

“We believe that the company are trying to hold the men to ransom in accepting changes to shift and working patterns,” he said.

UK Coal declined to comment.