UDM leader holds talk with MPs over miners’ job prospects

Thoresby Colliery
Thoresby Colliery

Future employment and the health concerns of redundant miners were at the top of the agenda as union leader, Jeff Wood, met with MP Mark Spencer and business minister, Anna Soubry.

Mr Wood, president of the Union of Democratic Miners (UDM), arranged a meeting with the politicians to highlight concerns over the support and possible re-training of those who were recently made redundant from Thoresby Colliery.

Sherwood MP Mark Spencer

Sherwood MP Mark Spencer

The pit, which was the last deep mine in Nottinghamshire, finally closed last month after 90 years of production.

More than 600 jobs have been lost, many of which are UDM members.

Owners UK Coal announced last year that the company was in serious financial trouble and set about winding down production, blaming cheap imported coal from abroad for the industry’s downfall.

Since then, some miners have managed to find alternative employment but many left the industry without job prospects.

“There’s a great deal more that could be done to support them,” said Mr Wood.

“There’s not enough variation in the jobs on offer, and the funding’s not there for the kind of re-training these guys want to do.

“I’m really grateful for Mark’s intervention, he’s always supported us, and I’m confident he’ll come back to us with some results.”

As well as funding for re-training, Mr Wood was joined at the meeting by UDM colleague Ian Gill to highlight health concerns of the redundant miners, particularly pneumoconiosis - a disease affecting the lungs that can be caused by years spent down the pit. This disease has often gone unnoticed, but after several Thoresby Miners were recently diagnosed with it, there would seem to be a case for having all of the workers checked over to avoid long-term problems.

Known as ‘black lung disease’, it can cause shortness of breath and coughing.

Several avenues were found to improve the level of support locally, and Mark Spencer’s office will now work with Mrs Soubry and the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to find solutions over the coming weeks and months.

Mr Spencer said: “I’ve worked with Jeff and the UDM for a long time now on issues like the coal allowance, and trying to find funding for Thoresby.

“I’m certain that there are gaps in our support for local miners and I’m pushing every government minister I can to find sources of training and work, and to look at these health concerns they’ve raised.

“I’ll be busy with those discussions and I hope to be able to report back with progress.”