GMB Members To March In Knottingley To Mark Closure Of Kellingley



UK will lose skills, traditions and culture associated with coal mining and communities will suffer the social deprivation of losing their source of employment says GMB.

GMB, the union for energy and coal workers, will take part in a march through Knottingley on Saturday, 19 December to mark the end of Kellingley Colliery which is closing on Friday 18th December. This is the last deep mine in the UK. The march will leave the Town Hall at 12.30 pm to Kellingley Miners Welfare Club for a rally.

Phil Whitehurst, GMB National Officer, said "Kellingley affectionately called the "BIG K" once employed 3,000 miners and was the biggest deep mine in Europe. Now the final 450 miners, the last in a long line stretching back for generations, are having to search for new jobs before the shafts that lead down to 30 million tons of untouched coal are sealed with concrete.
Kellingley and the coal industry in general has been let down by successive governments – both Conservative and Labour – who have failed to halt the pit closures. Thatcher in 1984 wanted to break the NUM because it was the bastion of the trade union movement but failed. The Cameron's Conservative Government with no industrial strategy has now succeeded where Thatcher left off and the last deep mine in the UK is to go. This is a very sad day as our proud industrial heritage is destroyed by the Conservatives.
Pam Ross, lay officer in the GMB Yorkshire Coal Staffs branch, said "It is very sad time and the death of UK deep mined coal – it started, really, with privatisation – British Coal was privatised in a different way to other nationalised industries. I think the underlying purpose of that was possibly to try and kill off the industry and the NUM as a punishment for the 1984 strike.
The real disappointment was the lack of support when Labour swept into power in 1997 – we waited for some kind of sign from them – although, after a lot of campaigning, we did manage to get some funding for developments, but it was never enough to save the industry. UK Coal and its predecessor, RJB Mining, failed to make a success of the industry, but there were so many other contributory factors, world price of coal, events beyond our control such as the problems with Daw Mill, and in recent times the dumping of cheap US coal in the UK because of fracking in the US.
It is ironic, considering that we will still be burning coal – certainly till the moratorium in 2025!- but none of it will be UK deep mined coal. The UK should be world leaders in Carbon Capture and Sequestration – and despite every Government over the last 20 years paying lip service to an energy policy which includes that, and has included coal, nothing has been done – every project has come to nought, including the most recent one, which has been scrapped.
Whenever the politicians talk about security of supply, here we are, sitting on hundreds of years of coal, for which the technology exists to burn it cleanly (it is happening in Canada!) but we will no longer have access to it.

We will also lose skills, traditions and culture associated with coal mining, and obviously suffer the social deprivation from communities losing their source of employment. It’s ironic that there are so many coal mining museums in the UK – obviously the general public has a lot of empathy for miners and mining, pity the UK Government did not share that empathy and invest the future of the coal industry."  


Contact: Phil Whitehurst 07968 338810 or GMB Press Office on 07921 289880 or 07974 251823.


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