Vulnerable OAPs 'Could Die' After Free Coal Axed
28 Aug 2013
Union warns of health dangers over cost cuts after collapse of UK Coal and closure of Daw Mill Collliery.
Vulnerable West Midland pensioners could die this winter with the end of free coal in the wake of the collapse of UK Coal and the closure of Daw Mill Collliery .
The grim warning that lives would be put at risk by the latest cost-cutting measure following the demise of UK Coal was sounded by Daw Mill UDM branch secretary Dave Meuse.
Thousands of recipients of the free coal – supplied for many years to former long-serving mineworkers and their families – will no longer receive the concessionary fuel allowance, equivalent to heating costs of more than £1,000 a year.
The supplies are being stopped by administrators BDO who have overseen the restructuring of UK Coal to save 2,000 jobs and enable the Pension Protection Fund to take over the company pension scheme, reducing retirement funds for some staff by 10 per cent.
But Mr Meuse said the axing of free coal posed real dangers for pensioners, including many in the West Midlands, who had relied on the supplies for their heating in winter. “UK Coal have got a lot to answer for. This issue has been put to one side and people do not realize the implications of it.
“It is a fact that people will die. Pensioners rely on the coal. All the old people who have got it rather than worry about a cold winter, very few of them will be able to afford to go and buy their coal.
“And where are they going to get the money to be able to change their heating system? It is only now when the coalman is not coming that they are phoning up to ask what is happening with the coal.
“There are a lot of people out there who have worked hard all their lives and at least they could look forward to being warm – that has now gone, and they may not have the money for a new gas system.
“We are not taking this lying down. We have MPs chasing this up for us and if we do not get any joy, we will go to court and if we do not get any joy there, we will go to Europe.”
Graham Newton, BDO Business Restructuring partner and Joint Administrator of UK Coal Mining Limited, said: “Regrettably, as the company is insolvent, it is no longer possible to provide this benefit. Previous recipients of concessionary fuel benefit can make a claim against the company as unsecured creditors.
“However, former benefit recipients will not get back the full value of their claim. At this time the concessionary fuel beneficiaries do not need to take any action to pursue their claim and we will be writing with details of their potential claim in due course.
“We do recognise that this may cause difficulty for people, which is why we are working with Capita, who administered the benefit, the trade unions and members of parliament to offer what advice and support we can.”
OAPs Get Winter Fuel Boost After Ex-Miners' Victory
8 Jan 2014
Hundreds of pensioners across the West Midlands have been granted DOUBLE winter supplies. Hundreds of pensioners across the West Midlands have been granted DOUBLE winter supplies of free coal worth more than £1,000 – thanks to a victorious union campaign.
The Government has backed down on plans to end free supplies for ex-miners and their families in the wake of the collapse of UK Coal, following angry objections by the NUM, UDM and NACODS.
And in a double boost for worried householders, many of them in former West Midland coalfield areas, the supplies have been backdated to last summer, when it was axed following UK Coal’s demise.
The about-turn by the Government means that thousands of recipients of the coal will now get double supplies to keep them warm in the depths of winter.
Daw Mill UDM branch secretary Dave Meuse, who backed the campaign to reinstate the coal, said: “It is absolutely fantastic news for the people who had depended on the coal. This came completely out of the blue and they have even had it backdated for six months.
“All the delivery loads will be doubled up throughout the winter for January, February and March. The only problem for people will be where to put it all.
“We always thought that we had a strong case but we never thought in our wildest dreams that it would be solved as quickly as this.”
Daw Mill Miners ‘To Lose Severance Pay’
28 Jun 2013
Hundreds of workers fear they could miss out on thousands in redundancy payouts if UK Coal goes bust
Hundreds of miners fear they could miss out on £18,000 or more in redundancy and pensions following the closure of Daw Mill Colliery.
Former pitmen at the last colliery in the West Midlands have revealed that men have lost out on payouts amid fears UK Coal will go bust – and are currently being paid weekly for a 12-week period.
UDM and NACODS officials from the North Warwickshire colliery, which was forced to close following a huge underground blaze in February, revealed the financial turmoil.
Dave Meuse, Daw Mill UDM branch secretary, said: "May 31 was the end of the 90-day consultation period, during which we were on 60 per cent of basic salary.
"We got a letter telling us that we were on notification of redundancy. For 12 weeks it is a week for every year of service to a maximum of 12 weeks.
"In the past, you have always got a lump sum but because UK Coal have not got the money they have been paying us weekly. The reason they have not paid us a lump sum is because they know that at some stage they are going to go insolvent. If they had paid us a lump sum, it would have cost them a lot of money."
Union leaders fear that ex-workers could lose up to £18,000 if they end up with statutory redundancy – and the loss of thousands more from their pensions.
John Moffat of NACODS supervisors' union, said: "We realize our mining days are over but we want what we are owed and it does not look as if we are going to get it. People have been in limbo for four months – they are just sitting at home and they are people used to working six, seven days a week."
Andrew Mackintosh, from UK Coal said "I am really disappointed at the inaccuracy of some of these comments and totally reject some of the allegations.
"We did not want to be in this situation. It is the result of a major fire which cost the company a third of its business almost overnight.
"Of the 650 colleagues affected by the closure, we have worked hard to minimise the impact on as many as possible."
8 Jan 2014
Mr Meuse, who is still helping ex-miners at Daw Mill who lost their jobs when the West Midlands’ last pit closed last March, had warned that the ending of free coal supplies could cause deaths in winter.
The concessionary fuel allowance scheme, which had run for decades, was equivalent to annual heating costs estimated at around £1,400 but the supplies were axed by administrators BDO.
The scheme had provided free coal for life for long-serving miners dependent on their age and length of service.
“It is marvellous news. I have had a few people phoning to say it is brilliant what the unions have done,” added Mr Meuse.