But government accused of attempting to deny NUM members the cash
LIQUIDATORS for an insolvent coalmining company were given government cash to fight a legal battle to deny Yorkshire miners extra compensation when they were sacked at Kellingley Colliery, the UK’s last deep coalmine.
Miners at Kellingley stayed solidly out in the strike against pit closures of 1984-85.
But five months before they were sacked, in July 2015, when miners from a Nottinghamshire coalmine claimed the same compensation, it was paid out without a murmur of opposition from either the liquidators or the government.
The Kellingley miners have now won an extra £2 million in redundancy money.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) won a “protective award” for the 549 coalminers at Kellingley colliery in Yorkshire. Workers are entitled to a “protective award” equivalent to eight weeks’ pay if they lose their jobs when their employer is insolvent — as was UK Coal, Kellingley’s owner.
Each miner will receive about £3,800 on top of their original redundancy payouts following a tribunal ruling. The cash will come from the government’s National Insurance fund.
In July 2015 the last pit in Nottinghamshire, Thoresby, closed.
The union there with the most members was the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM), the scab union whose members worked during the miners’ strike against closures of 1984/5. The UDM claimed a protective award for its members.
UK Coal’s liquidators could not afford the legal costs to oppose the claim.
But when the NUM submitted the same claim for the Kellingley miners it was resisted.
NUM general secretary Chris Kitchen said: “The UDM put in for a protective award five months earlier and it was not opposed. We put in the same claim and it was opposed.
“Our MP Yvette Cooper made some enquiries and wrote to the energy minister Jesse Norman.
“We found out that it was money UK Coal owed the government that was funding it. The government was funding it.”
The fact that the government was funding the legal action was confirmed in a letter from then energy minister Jesse Norman to Nigel Adams, Tory MP for Selby and Ainsty, where some Kellingley exminers live.
Ms Cooper, Labour MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, whose constituency includes Kellingley, said the tribunal ruling proved that the government decision to deny the Kellingley miners the payment made to Thoresby’s miners was “an outrage and a betrayal of the Yorkshire miners.”