UK’s national trade union centre (TUC), along with three other unions, has called on UK energy minister Michael Fallon to discuss the future of Thoresby and Kellingley coal mines, as the deal to finance closure of the mines has failed.
In May, the UK Government had permitted the closure of Thoresby and Kellingley, two of Britain’s last three coal mines, by the end of 2015 leaving only Hatfield Colliery deep pit mine in Britain.
Meanwhile, the government initiated a £20m plan to delay the shutdown of the mines, which employ more than 1,300 workers.
However, Hargreaves has withdrawn from the deal, leaving the future of both mines in uncertainty.
TUC assistant general secretary Paul Nowak said that Hargreaves’ decision to withdraw from the commercial loan arrangement today means that all jobs at both mines could be lost.
TUC and other unions BACM-TEAM, NACODS and NUM jointly said that time is running out for the 1,300 miners at both pits and for the hundreds more jobs they support in the East Midlands and North Yorkshire.
Following the failure of the financial deal, the unions are now urging the government to seek permission from the EU to spend public funds.
Nowak said the government should overcome its reluctance to ask Brussels for permission to use state aid and act now to save the highly skilled jobs and the local communities where the miners live and work.
The public funds would not only allow both coal mines to remain open but would also extend the future of the UK’s coal industry by four years.
According to TUC, the cost of state aid, which is expected to be between £63m and £74m, can be easily recovered from the £86m of extra profits generated between 2015 and 2018, and from more than £500m in coal revenues.
Nowak said that using taxpayers’ money to keep the pits open would save money in the long run.
"It seems crazy to allow the closure of British mines when Germany and Spain are both using public funds to bolster their own domestic coal supply. Not only would at least 2,000 jobs be secured, it would also mean that less public money is spent on redundancy and benefits payments," Nowak said.