Miners agree closure of last pit in South Wales: Tower colliery men accept redundancy

BRITISH COAL'S last deep mine in South Wales ceased production yesterday after miners voted to accept redundancy payments four days after agreeing an offer to keep the pit open.

Miners at Tower colliery, near Aberdare, would have lost pounds 19,000 a head by maintaining production until privatisation at the end of the year with no guarantee of a buyer.

About 250 members of the National Union of Mineworkers voted at a mass meeting to reverse last Friday's decision to work on following pressure from management, miners who wanted to accept the package, and four other unions which had already opted for closure. NUM members calculated that a weekly pay packet until the end of the year would not match the enhanced redundancy payments on offer.

The colliery will now be kept on a 'care and maintenance' basis in case a private company decides to bid for it. Tower made pounds 28m profit in the last three years, but BC wants to close it following a fall in demand for power station coal.

Miners took the decision despite a personal plea by Arthur Scargill, president of the National Union of Mineworkers, who visited Tower on Monday. Mr Scargill condemned the corporation for conducting a 'dirty tricks' campaign.

Yesterday British Coal confirmed that a 'non-negotiable' national offer would be presented to miners' leaders which would maintain the maximum basic redundancy payment of pounds 27,000. The extra pounds 19,000 on offer to Tower men would not be available after this month.

Colliers would have to agree flexible working practices in order to qualify for the new package, corporation sources said. A lump sum of pounds 6,000 would be paid to miners on acceptance of the new deal.

Although yesterday's decision by the Tower men came as a surprise, BC sources pointed out that some 70 miners had earlier expressed an interest in taking the enhanced redundancy payments.

Tower miners voted on Friday to accept a British Coal offer to keep the pit open, but the NUM subsequently contacted management informing them that they were reconsidering the decision.

All other unions at the pit, Nacods, the pit-deputies, Cosa, the white-collar NUM branch, BACM the managers' union and GMB Apex for administrative staff, had already reached agreement with the corporation on taking redundancy.

Ann Clwyd, a Labour employment spokeswoman and MP for Cynon Valley, yesterday clashed with the Speaker, Betty Boothroyd, in the Commons after claiming that David Hunt, the Secretary of State for Employment, and British Coal were 'peddling untruths'.

Similar unparliamentary language got the Prime Minister into trouble recently. Mrs Clwyd was told three times to withdraw accusations that Mr Hunt and British Coal were 'lying through their teeth'.

Mrs Clwyd staged a 27-hour sit-in at the pit last week, emerging from underground when British Coal agreed to postpone its closure.

She said the Government's pit closure programme had forced thousands of men on to the economic scrapheap.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea