Kellingley could be saved, union claims

Kellingley could be saved, union claims

Kellingley could be saved, union claims

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York Press: Photograph of the Author by , Political reporter

MINERS at the threatened Kellingley mine will not accept job losses as inevitable and believe the mine could be saved with government help, their union has announced.

The National Union of Mineworkers held its monthly branch meeting at Kellingley on Thursday night and General Secretary Chris Kitchen said the miners were not prepared the accept a closure plan putting them all on the dole by 2015.

He said: "We are actively in favour of a more long term rescue. Instead of closure, we want a survival plan."

UK Coal, the company behind the Kellingley pit, is looking for up to £20 million in finance to manage the closure of the pit but the union wants to see that cash used to keep the mine working until the state aid can be lined up for a long term future. The first £10 million has been offered by private investors and the company has asked the government for the remaining £10 million.

Mr Kitchen said: "We appreciate that UK Coal will run out of money in the near future and it is imperative we do get the £10 million to ensure the pit doesn't go into insolvency.

"It's a commercial loan with an interest rate of ten percent. It's not a hand out."

After meetings between the union and the European Commissioner, they believe the UK Government would get permission to use state aid to save jobs in Kellingley, something government officials said was impossible when the mine last faced troubled times last year, Mr Kitchen added.

The union urged the DECC to ask the European Commission for permission to give state aid last year, but were told there was enough time and had their pleas ignored, he said.

They are now waiting for an announcement, expected on Monday, on whether UK Coal has secured the initial £20 million commercial loan to keep the mine going in the short term.

The union's next consultation meeting with UK Coal is set for Wednesday, by when they hope to talk about minimising job losses, and planning for the future of the industry.

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