The three-month extension to 30 June 1998 has caused uncertainty among many miners. I am receiving numerous inquiries from men who are very worried that this jeopardises their entitlement to enhanced redundancy payments worth up to pounds 27,000. Salaried employees might have expected considerably more.
The fear is that this short extension to June will result simply in a delay in the declaration of redundancies until after the date when entitlement to enhanced severance pay has lapsed. When the coal industry was privatised in 1994, previously discretionary redundancy terms in the industry became the subject of a formal contract. This is due to expire at the end of March 1998, simultaneously with the coal supply contracts.
As things are, the extension of the miners' employment could mean that they earn substantially less than they will lose by forfeiting the entitlement to appropriate compensation for the loss of their jobs.
Ken Coates MEP
(Nottinghamshire North and Chesterfield, Lab)