Passion and anger as former miners hand over 100,000 pension petition at 10 Downing Street
Former pit men have made an impassioned plea to be listened to by politicians in their fight for pensions justice.
Former pit men have made an impassioned plea to be listened to by politicians in their fight for pensions justice.Former mineworkers from Mansfield , Staffordshire, South Wales and Durham went to 10 Downing Street yesterday (Wednesday March 6) where they braved the rain and wind to hand over a 100,000 name petition.The petition calls for a review of the mineworkers pension arrangements for more than 150000 firmer mineworkers and widows.They say they have been ‘robbed’ of billions which has been siphoned off by successive governments following an agreement to underwrite the pension in the 1990s.The the UK miners pension scheme, for justice & fair play association is campaigning to get the 50-50 split of pension surplus renegotiated.
After handing in the petition, representative and former Thoresby miner Mick Newton said: “We commenced this petition just over three years ago and we have now got over 100,000 signatures on the paper petition, not online.“So residents in Mansfield and the surrounding areas have come out of their way to sign this petition.“That’s why feel that the passion and the anger that exists on this issue is second to none.“People are fed up of seeing their pensions being creamed off by the Government through this so called 50/50 guarantee and they want something doing about it.“We’ve handed the petition over to Number 10, but we are going to continue with the petition and we are going to continue to campaign.“We know that the coalfield communities, the mining villages, they are watching and waiting.“And on their behalf we have to continue and keep up the pressure and continue the resistance and persist at all costs to get them a better deal.”He said the former mineworkers will send a delegation to meet in Westminster on Monday (March 11) with Claire Perry MP the energy minister.He said he hoped local MPs would attend the meeting. Mick explained: “It started in 1987. The Coal Board came to the mining unions and said we would like to take a contribution holiday and if we do then we might have the money to stop some of the pits from closing..That was a deception of the greatest order“What they did with out pension money was they paid us our redundancy , they paid us our compensation for industrial disease and injuries and they used our pension money to pump in regeneration schemes in former coalfield communities .“So it’s been a long struggle going back to 1987.“We’ve been deceived at every single stage .“Since 1994 when they brought that agreement in when they said it would be in our best interests we know now whose interests that was for.“The only people who have benefited from that deal is the Government.We have over 150,000 pensioners and widows. 8,000 we will sadly lose in the course of a year as we stand talking today 35 former mineworkers or their widows will lose their lives .Some from industrial illness and injuries and it’s time that we sat down and looked at this seriously and urgently.“We say to the MPs the mining communities are watching and waiting what they do next and we urge all MPs to get behind this and get it sorted.”
Charles Chiverton, 55, another former Thoresby miner said campaigners want a serious review of the pension arrangements .He said: “Various reports in the past have said we should be getting at least 85 per cent of any share of our surpluses so we want that looking at seriously and I think we also want the government look at the bonuses side of our pension as well and maybe look at giving a one-off payment across the board to our pensioners and widows that are also suffering at the poverty end of the pension “Thank you to the Chad for the coverage in the past and this week’s coverage as well you really have done us proud as a local newspaper.“It says it all - enough is enough .“We’ve come to the corridors of power and we’ve met our great colleagues from South Wales and Staffordshire .“This fight doesn’t stop here.“We’re not idiots, we’re not fools.“We do understand the wheels of power and how slowly they work but we aren’t going anywhere .“However long it takes, this fight will never end until we get the injustices put right.“What I found insulting in the debate in Parliament a few weeks ago was the Minister for Pensions stating publicly live on air that the mineworkers have been looked after .“They had their eye prescriptions paid for , they had certain welfare benefits granted to them .“What an insult to mineworkers in and around Nottinghamshire and around the country .“The Coalfields Regeneration Scheme money is from our pension scheme.“Mansfield Market place was paid for by the miners pension scheme .“It is an absolute insult to us all., when all we are basically asking for is fairness..“We are not arguing about the guarantee they said they have given us.“We are realistic . Since privatisation when this came as ringfenced a low risk scheme underwritten by the Government itself , there have been 150,000 mineworkers and their spouses members of the scheme pass away.Miners probably due to ill health because of the conditions that we worked in.“Eight to 10,000 a year die .“The take out of the scheme is decreasing year in and year out yet these people can in power tell us - we haven’t got a case for our scheme to be reviewed.“We may have been mineworkers but we’re not stupid.“Under their own actuarial report in the run up to the privatisation scheme it stated that the split should be 85-15 in the members of the scheme’s favour and with a take of £2 billion, would suffice until each member had passed away .Then all the money would go to government .“We’re not even arguing about that. The £20 billion the scheme is worth the Government will take eventually so let’s have our fair share now.“We are being supported by these lovely WASPI ladies, wome of whom will have been married to mineworkers and so they are suffering a double whammy.”
John Tierney Cannock former miner at Littleton Colliery added: “It’s what we’ve been collecting signatures for two years for.“It’s been a long hard slog but we’re there. We’re hoping that the petition will open doors. All through everything, harking back to 1984 all we ever had was doors closed on us. There would be talks about talks and the same has been happening with this.”