Digging Deep: UK coal in 'robust conversations' with union

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The Independent Online

FTSE 250 miner UK Coal is locked in negotiations with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) over plans to reduce employee travel and fuel benefits.

UK Coal chairman Jonson Cox has steered the company back to profit after four years of losses, but believes working practices must change to drive down costs.

Many proposals, such as changes to shift patterns, have been accepted by the six mining unions involved. However, the biggest union is the NUM, which represents a quarter of the workforce and opposes a reduction in the 10p-a-mile contribution towards travel and what is often a free domestic fuel supply.

The union's general secretary Chris Kitchen said: "This proposal looks to make those reductions for the long term, but this has been a short-term [financial] problem and should be looked at with short-term solutions."

A UK Coal spokesman said: "We have had some very robust and challenging conversations with employees and unions over these matters. We are pleased that employees understand that there need to be changes and we are currently negotiating certain terms and conditions."

UK Coal runs mines in central and northern England.