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NUM ready to contest pit pay-offs

THE National Union of Mineworkers is preparing to take British Coal to court to stop enhanced redundancy payments being offered to miners to make them leave the industry, writes Malcolm Pithers.

Arthur Scargill, the NUM president, said miners were being 'blackmailed, harassed and intimidated' into accepting redundancy. About 4,000 had now been offered extra financial inducements, providing they agreed to withdraw their collieries from the review procedure.

But, Mr Scargill said, only the union's national executive committee could agree to collieries being withdrawn from review.

British Coal has been offering payments to miners based on 'fictional' earnings of about pounds 300 a week, leading to average redundancy payments of about pounds 23,000. In addition, miners are being offered pounds 10,000, but only if they agree to withdraw from the review procedure. If they do not agree, redundancy would be based on earnings of between pounds 150 and pounds 200 per week.