Following last week's debate on Kellingley, today Yvette has sent a letter to the Secretaries of State for Energy and Climate Change and BIS, asking them to intervene and offer a better deal to the last workers at Kellingley Colliery. The letter is co-signed by many other coalfield MPs. You can read the full text below:
The Secretary of State
Department for Energy and Climate Change
3, Whitehall Place
London, SW1A 2AW
The Secretary of State
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
1, Victoria Street
London, SW1H 0ET
Tuesday 15th December 2015
Dear Secretaries of State,
In just a few days’ time, Britain’s last working deep coal mine, Kellingley Colliery, will close after a two year campaign by workers, elected representatives and the local community to try to keep it open. The last 450 miners will lose their jobs before Christmas.
The hard work of Britain's miners has powered the British economy, kept the home fires burning and sustained our coalfield communities for generations and the Kellingley miners have stayed loyal to the coal industry until the very end - saving the Government tens of millions of pounds in doing so.
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. We also understand that the Government will be saving over £9m in future compared to the original estimate for concessionary fuel that was announced by the Chancellor.
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. We feel this is a total betrayal of these miners by UK Coal and the Government.
Miners who were made redundant under Margaret Thatcher and in almost all the pit closures since, have had enhanced redundancy pay as recognition of the long years they worked, the difficult and skilled job they have done, and the limited alternative skilled work available.
Yet the last miners who have been loyal until the end at Kellingley have had their redundancy cut back just to the minimum statutory redundancy pay.
UK Coal has finally said that they will receive severance pay in lieu of notice paid at average pay. However they have not been guaranteed the concessionary coal deal that the NUM had expected to help those miners just under 50 or those getting temporary work.
We are calling on the Government to work urgently with UK Coal to give a fair deal to the last British miners - including enhanced redundancy pay, full severance pay, an extension of concessionary fuel and a commitment to more skills and training support and regeneration in the coalfield communities.
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.
Yvette Cooper, Member of Parliament for Normanton, Pontefract, Castleford and Knottingley