Kellingley: death of an industry

Kellingley: industry left to die with no palliative care

The union representing staff at Britain’s last large deep coal mine says the government has failed to provide enough support to help staff retrain or seek alternative employment, and robbed the UK of a potential vibrant export industry.



Speaking on behalf of management at the Kellingley pit on the day it ceases production, Prospect negotiator Mike Macdonald said: “We are proud of the hard work and engineering expertise of our members who have successfully delivered the last coal face in Britain under challenging physical and financial conditions. Everyone at Kellingley should be congratulated as they have met the managed closure plan safely.

“Their dedication has saved the taxpayer more than £10m as they have continued to produce coal at a profit for the last six months enabling them to pay off some of their debts and meet closure costs.

“If Kellingley had shut when the business collapsed six months ago the burden would have fallen on the state. Despite that, staff have only been paid their contractual redundancy entitlement and the promised support for training and financial help for the Castleford area is insufficient. It has already lost nearly 2,000 jobs in mining and power generation in the past 18 months.  

“A manger made redundant from the steel industry can get up to £40,000 for retraining from their Local Enterprise Partnership. This is not available to the coal workforce due to its dispersed nature and LEP funding guidelines. Coal workers only have access to £1,000. Electricity companies will retrain people with a £40,000 grant, but they cannot do very much with £1,000.”

Macdonald said the strong sense among the workforce is that Kellingley has been thrown on the industrial scrapheap. Even though it still has ample reserves and could continue to contribute to the country’s energy needs as clean methods of electricity production are developed.

“Coal remains a significant global fuel. The failure of the government to support clean technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage and Ultra Supercritical generation has condemned the industry to an early death.

“Instead of clean coal production using Britain’s reserves, we will rely on imported gas to produce electricity to fill the gap between nuclear and renewables. This short-sighted policy has lost the opportunity to create high-value work, to reduce carbon emissions and to generate a vibrant export industry. The workers at Kellingley and the nation deserve better.”

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For further information contact:

Michael Macdonald   01924 207890 (w)   07770 304486 (m)    michael.macdonald@prospect.org.uk

Katherine Beirne   020 7902 6625 (w)   07753 933174 (m)    katherine.beirne@prospect.org.uk