Workers ‘deflated’ after employee buyout of Kellingley Colliery collapses

Keith Poulson and Keith Hartshorne outside Kellingley Colliery.
Keith Poulson and Keith Hartshorne outside Kellingley Colliery.

Workers at Kellingley Colliery say they have been left “deflated” after scrapping an employee buyout deal to save the pit.

Members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) were working on a deal, which would have seen workers invest £2,000 each to keep the site open until 2020.

But after meeting UK Coal’s chief operating officer Derek Parkin, the NUM said the deal would not raise enough to secure a future for the site.

Keith Poulson, NUM branch secretary at Kellingley, said UK Coal had told unions they would need to take on debts of Thoresby Colliery, in Nottinghamshire, which will also close at the end of next year.

He added: “We are feeling really deflated. We never envisaged that we would incur the debts of Thorseby , which is around £8.5m.

“There is nothing else we can do because we have asked the workers to put in £2,000 of their own money and take a ten per cent wage reduction over the next five years and it still won’t be enough.”

A spokesman from UK Coal said the company was “bitterly disappointed” with NUM’s “false accusations.”

He added: “The company has spent a huge amount of time explaining what would be needed to make the employee buy-out scheme viable.

“At a meeting this week it was found that the steering committee had failed to pursue any of the recommendations made weeks earlier.

“A ‘heads buried in the sand’ approach had been adopted by some of the trade union officials.”

The pit is now expected to close by the end of next year, with the loss of 700 jobs, as part of a ‘managed closure.’

See next week’s Pontefract and Castleford Express for more.