Union fury over mines sale

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The Independent Online
THE GOVERNMENT has confronted the breakaway Union of Democratic Mineworkers by agreeing to sell most of Britain's remaining deep coalmining industry to RJB Mining, a private coal company which floated on the stock market only last year.

A consortium involving the UDM and British Coal's former commercial director, Malcolm Edwards, had bid for pits in the Nottinghamshire area, but was left almost empty-handed.

Neil Greatrex, president of the UDM, whose members split from the National Union of Mineworkers and continued working during the 1984- 85 miners' strike, said: 'We were seen at one time to support the industry. We brought about massive changes to make it profitable and we have ended up with absolutely nothing. I think the whole situation stinks and the Government should be ashamed of themselves.'

RJB Mining has already indicated that it will recognise both the NUM and the UDM at its new pits, although that will not be for the purposes of collective bargaining.

Arthur Scargill, leader of the NUM, said: 'The fact that they have already given recognition to the NUM at the collieries they hold, and given representation rights, I hope is a good indication of what can happen.'

RJB Mining has been named as the preferred bidder for three of the five regional packages on offer. It will acquire most of British Coal's 16 remaining operational pits.

The company was founded by Richard Budge, who split off the mining operation two years ago from AF Budge, a family contracting group which subsequently went into receivership. Mr Budge, 47, started his entrepreneurial career in his teens by selling his own landscape paintings and was a successful amateur racing driver. He was born in Boston, Lincolnshire, where his father was a builder, and his first regular job was carrying bags of cement for his brother's firm.