COAL COMBINE MEETING

NUM / unite the UNION
The meeting was hosted by the NUM in Barnsley with Jerry Swain (National Officer Unite), Graham Walton (Unite Shop Steward and Coal Combine Secretary), Nigel Yaxley (Managing Director CoalImP) and Chris Kelsey (Communications Manager Banks Group).
The need to raise awareness of the serious situation regarding the coal industry was discussed at length. Coal seems to be overlooked with coal needed not just for electricity generation but also iron and steel manufacture, cement manufacture, coke manufacture, domestic heat generation, sugar production, food and beverage production, chemicals production, patent fuel manufacture including smokeless briquettes, carbon fibre products and many other uses.
Early Day Motions were discussed as a way of trying to raise awareness of the plight of coal and it was considered useful that MP’s be made aware that if the UK is to have any fuel security at all then the whole coal industry from production to distribution and use needs to be considered. In a written answer to Philip Davies MP, Con, Shipley, the Minister said on 12 June 2018 ‘I have regular discussions with Ministers in other governments on a range of topics, including the production and use of coal, promoting the UK’s Industrial Strategy and maximising opportunities for UK firms after Brexit.’ The meeting asked what had been discussed in relation to the UK coal industry and what could we expect ‘after Brexit’.

Since the meeting Ronnie Campbell MP, Labour Blyth Valley has tabled an EDM which is common sense and should be supported by all MP’s. Ask your MP to support this motion.

Early day motion 1596
NEED FOR COAL TO MAKE STEEL AND CEMENT IN THE UK
• Session: 2017-19
• Date tabled: 10.09.2018
• Primary sponsor: Campbell, Ronnie
• Sponsors:
That this House notes that coal is an integral part of the UK manufacturing sector used in the chemical process to make steel and cement; further notes that over the last decade around nine million tonnes per annum of coal has been needed in the UK for non-electricity generation purposes; notes that if coal is not produced in the UK it will be imported from countries including Russia, the US, Colombia and Australia which produce more carbon dioxide through its transportation than coal produced in the UK; and therefore calls on the Government to recognise the production of high quality coal in the UK supports jobs, skills, taxes and investment in the UK and cuts down the carbon dioxide emitted in transporting coal from producers thousands of miles away.

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT

Opened 3 Sep 2018

Policing during miners’ strike: independent review
Closes 30 Nov 2018

Contact
minersstrikereview@gov.scot

Overview
This is a general call for evidence on the impact of policing on affected communities in Scotland during the period of the miners’ strike from March 1984 to March 1985. Evidence is sought from affected individuals and representative groups. The evidence gathered in this exercise will help inform the report and any recommendations made by the Independent Review to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Humza Yousaf MSP.

Responses are requested by Friday 30 November 2018. Please make your response in no more than 2,000 words.

See link for further information.
https://consult.gov.scot/justice/policing-during-miners-strike-independent-review/

Miners’ Skegness Home Under Threat

The closure of The Miners’ Retreat, Skegness formerly the Derbyshire Miners’ Convalescent Home, would be yet another blow to those who worked in the coal industry.
The home which is open to all with mining background has been open since 1939 and according to CISWO is still in high demand “the level of demand for rooms remains very strong with occupancy level in 2015 of 91.3% with 1,159 rooms booked out of an available number of 1,460.“
With its seafront location it is no wonder why people are upset, and the NUM has written to CISWO to see what has been done to retain this facility.

Read Chris Kitchen’s letter here.

Why Do MP’s Not Sign Early Day Motions?

(https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)

The latest briefing paper on the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme placed in the House of Commons Library 25 July 2018 is worth a read (click here).
The paper covers the issues raised by mining MP’s who were members of the NUM at the time and those that continue to help.
It also acknowledges and references the work of Les Moore’s ‘Mineworkers Pension Scheme for Justice and fair play Association’ and that the campaign is calling for a review of the 50/50 sharing of surpluses to be changed to reflect: a more realistic percentage which reflects the guarantors’ risk and recover all monies that rightly belong to the mineworkers of the UK.
It should be pointed out here that although there are those who feel that an MP’s Early Day Motion (EDM) is a waste of time the fact that a well worded EDM in support of miners’ pensions is not shown as supported by all Labour MP’s does not help our cause and we urge all MP’s to support the case for a review and support EDM’s that reflect that.

 

 

When Is An Increase Not An Increase?

Correct me if I am wrong but most MPS pensioners over 65 won’t know exactly what separate headings constitute their pension let alone what each figure is and how it is worked out.
So, when they are informed that the “Guaranteed pension (excluding GMP) is the heading that actually gets the 4.2% rise they are not much wiser. They are then informed that there is a Pre and Post 1988 GMP along with “Reducing bonus” and “Level bonuses granted from 2012 to 2017” you would forgive them from getting a little confused but now there is another element “New level bonus granted in 2018”.
So after “good investment returns” and a “large surplus” MPS beneficiaries would be expecting to at least hold on to the same shopping basket this year as they did last year?
But wait the “Scheme Actuary has decided that a payment of £475 million should be made from the Investment Reserve to the Government by 30 September 2018.”
Click this MPS logo  to see the latest information from the MPS Meeting with the Membership Support Network.
The example given for a pensioner over 65 shows that the pensioner is going to have to take something out of the shopping bag this year. The example shows a pensioner on £84 will see the pension rise to £86.08 but with inflation at 3.4% to stay level they would need £86.86 so something must go out of the basket and if they pay tax then they will have to do without something else.
The cynical among us will say that during the six years that the “New level bonus granted in 2018” has to run – how many thousands will die and receive very little of the “large surplus”? It also remains unanswered as to what would happen if there is another surplus in 3 years? How would that effect the 6 years roll out of this surplus?
They talk in Parliament about their “gold plated pensions” at the same time as they take another £475 m of miners’ pensions money. With Government coffers being topped up again with pensioners money there is a clear need to look again at whether MPS beneficiaries are getting value for money.

Chris Kitchen

NUM Fight For Fairness in Ill Health

NEC Member Dennis Howard – Photo thanks to Chris Bevan former Askern Miner www.chrisbevanphotography.co.uk

Miners who are not able to work due to ill-health say they are not to blame for the closure of mines and yet with the closures they are no longer able to apply for an early pension due to ill-health that is unreduced, and this is a cause for concern.

 

The issue has been raised at the NUM Yorkshire Area Council meetings and passed on to the NUM National Executive Meetings.

The NUM members who are trustees on the IWMPS have raised this issue with the MPS who have been asked to look at this issue.

 

NUM National President Nicky Wilson

The NUM say that miners are still being hit hard, losing their job, losing their health and losing their pension. The NUM is still alive and kicking and will push for justice on this and many other issues.

 

 

 

MPS MEETING REPORT – CHRIS KITCHEN

Miners’ Leader Chris Kitchen – Photo thanks to Chris Bevan former Askern Miner www.chrisbevanphotography.co.uk

Attendees: Gloria De Piero MP, Nick Smith MP, Stephanie Peacock MP, Dan Jarvis MP, Ian Lavery MP, Chris Cheetham, Paul Trickett, Bobby Clelland (Elected Trustee), Dan Whincup, Andy Gibbons, Holly Nelson (Coal Pension Trustees [C.P.T.]. Nicky Wilson, Wayne Thomas, Chris Kitchen, Alan Spencer, David Hamilton (NUM) Rob Skelton (First Actuarial).

Apologies: Grahame Morris MP, Chris Elmore MP, Yvette Cooper MP, Dennis Skinner MP.

The meeting convened by Gloria De Piero MP was held, 26 June 2018, in meeting room 4A in the House of Lords and was a joint meeting between the Labour Group of supporting MP’s, the NUM (with Actuarial advisor) and the Trustees of the MPS (with CPT advisors). The purpose of the meeting was to present the NUM commissioned report previously discussed with the Labour MP’s group to the MPS Trustees and their advisors.

The aim is to find common ground that will enable a joint approach to Government for a review of the current surplus sharing arrangement with a view to improving benefits to Scheme Beneficiaries. Following discussing the NUM commissioned Report it was agreed that the co-author of the report present at the meeting would hold further meetings with CPT to explain the assumptions used in the report and gain a better insight into the assumptions used by the MPS actuary in the tri-annual valuation and scheme rules. It was agreed that this meeting would take place within the next couple of weeks.

The MPS Trustees present informed the meeting that they had approached the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and discussions had taken place in respect of possible improvements to Scheme benefits. The improvements the Scheme Trustees were seeking centred around guaranteeing the bonus payments currently in payment. While this would be a step in the right direction it was felt on the basis of the NUM commissioned report from other parties present that a more substantial ask should be made than that of just guaranteeing the current bonuses in payment.

Although discussions had been started with BEIS no conclusion was reached and the Trustees had decided to suspend talks to concentrate on the tri-annual valuation the results of which should be known in the next few weeks. Once the valuation results are known it is the Trustees intention to restart the discussions with BEIS.

While any improvement to Scheme benefits is welcome the NUM’s view remains on the basis of the report that the focus of the review and future benefit improvements should not be based on what is fair between the Government and the Scheme for how future surpluses should be split but what is in the best interests of Scheme members. The focus of future discussions should be on what is a fair price and value for money for the Scheme beneficiaries for the Government in return for the guarantee, a guarantee that so far has not required the government to put in a single penny of new money into the scheme but enabled it to benefit by taking £billions out, not a bad return for taking on such a low level of risk.

It was clear from the meeting that there is still a significant amount of work to do in order to reach an agreed position that would enable the parties to present a united front to Government. The ask of government should be to improve benefits for Scheme members in the short term as it is now that they need the money while recognising that the government will always be there and can wait for it. That the government receives what is a fair payment based on the level of risk it has taken on by providing the guarantee which on the basis of the report should be far less than the current 50%.

MINERS’ CLAW – UPDATE NUM and IIAC Press For Review

28 June 2018 Minister promises review of Dupuytren’s Contracture ‘miners claw’ ruling

The long running campaign to have the debilitating Dupuytren’s Contracture industrial disease recognised reached an important milestone this week with a senior government minister promising to unblock the process.

Dupuytren’s Contracture is the first industrial disease since 1947 not to be brought on to the statute books following an IIAC recommendation.

The NUM and Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) have been campaigning since 2014 for the government to accept the IIAC recommendation and allow this disease to be prescribed as an Industrial Disease thus allowing miners who suffer from the condition to make a claim for benefit.

The Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IACC) is the independent body that recommends which industrial diseases be added to an official list.

Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work Sarah Newton MP met with County Durham MP’s and Durham Miners’ Association representatives to try to find a solution to the delay.

Sarah Newton MP promised that Chief Medical Officer, Professor Gina Radford, would review the evidence and report back within the next few months.

Alan Cummings, NUM NEC Member and DMA secretary, said: “It is a disgrace that miners, and other workers, have had to wait so long for this matter to be resolved. We now think there may be some light at the end of the tunnel.

“We would expect an answer to this long running issue sometime in the early autumn. We will be holding the minister to her word.”

Also, at the meeting were Durham City MP Roberta Blackman-Woods and North Durham MP Laura Pidcock. Laura Pidcock MP said: “This is a dreadful condition which we now know is caused, in part, by industrial work. It is time the government took action.”

Roberta Blackman-Woods MP said “We organised a big lobby of MP’s to support taking this action forward and we would expect to see results. This is an incurable condition which affects many people, particularly miners, and we need to see justice being done.”

Extract from Minutes of the IIAC Meeting – 11 January 20184.
Dupuytren’s contracture
4.1 IIAC published its command paper on Dupuytren’s contracture on 8 May 2014.
4.2 Sarah Newton MP, Minister for Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, wrote to IIAC via the Chair on 30 November 2017, advising the Council the Department would not be proceeding with its recommendation to add Dupuytren’s contracture to the list of prescribed diseases.
4.3 It was noted that this is only the second time in at least 30 years that a recommendation from the Council has been turned down. Concern was raised that Minister may not have had the full breadth of information and evidence available on this topic.
4.4 In the letter, reference was made to Dupuytren’s often being mild and not requiring treatment. This was countered by a member who, through direct experience, made the case that the condition is often serious and can have a negative impact on patient’s lives and functioning. Research reports were also identified that cited quite high complication rates if surgery is needed. It was felt that the Command paper published back in 2014 (Cm 8860, Dupuytren’s contracture due to hand-transmitted vibration: IIAC report) did not emphasise this aspect enough.
4.5 The letter also stated that the Department considered priority should be given to diseases which are more severe in their effects. A member noted that this decision marked a considerable change in policy from the government, although a DWP official said that there was no explicit intention to alter policy. It was noted that several other conditions which are less disabling in nature are scheduled within the Scheme and, moreover, that the legislative framework provides for aggregation of conditions. The decision by the Minister thus appeared at variance with a basic provision of the Scheme and previous practice and precedent, raising questions about policy intent, consistency and the equal treatment of claimants and potential claimants.
4.6 A member considered that the decision might be challenged under the Equality Act. Another thought that it would raise criticism and challenge in the House.
4.7 The letter from the Minister offered the opportunity to meet with the Chair to discuss the matter. It was decided that this meeting should take place as soon as convenient and ahead of Council correspondence. Two members with relevant expertise agreed to accompany the Chair to the meeting.

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Durham Gala Fringe

Established in 2013 Education 4 Action facilitates events in the week preceding the Durham Miners Gala. We are a team of enthusiastic volunteers with a shared mining and Labour heritage. We work closely with the DMA, Marras and like- minded organisation and will warmly welcome anyone interested in joining us. See events here

Breakthrough With Lung Diseases

Chris Skidmore Yorkshire NUM Chairman – Photo thanks to Chris Bevan former Askern Miner www.chrisbevanphotography.co.uk

How many miners have worked in tunnels where solid rock has been shot fired with clouds of dust so dense that you can’t see your hands in front of your face and how many miners have breathed in the dust as the ventilation forced it outbye?

Well, as a direct result of a question raised by Chris Skidmore, NUM Yorkshire Area Chairman at the public meeting in Manchester on 6 July 2017 the Industrial Injuries advisory Council (IIAC) has recommended that in future a coalminer with silicosis and primary carcinoma of the lung should be eligible to apply for benefit. (THE INDUSTRIAL INJURIES ADVISORY COUNCIL POSITION PAPER 41 Coal mining, silicosis and lung cancer gov.uk/iiac)

At present Prescribed Disease PD D11 excludes coalminers suffering from both of these diseases from benefit and provides entitlement only where the claimant is and has been exposed to silica dust in the following occupations namely:
glass manufacture, sandstone tunnelling and quarrying, the pottery industry, metal ore mining, slate quarrying and production, clay mining, use of siliceous materials as abrasives, foundry work, granite tunnelling and quarrying, stone cutting and masonry.

At the meeting the NUM questioned whether the exposure conditions for PD D11 (b), “tunnelling in, or quarrying sandstone or granite “could apply to work as a coalminer; and if not, whether the prescription should be amended to enable such coverage. This was prompted by a case in which a coalminer with lung cancer and silicosis was initially refused benefit for PD D1 (pneumoconiosis), a position reversed upon appeal when it was successfully argued that coal mining was a form of “tunnelling” that could be through hard rock. IIAC has now said that it would expect that, since it has long been recognised that exposure to silica dust and cases of silicosis can arise in coal mining involving cutting of sandstone strata, usually by tunnelling or drilling.

The Council recommendation will now be referred to the Minister and it is expected that the legislation will be revised to incorporate the IIAC view that a prima facie case exists for recognising PD D11 in a coalminer with primary lung cancer if (i) a diagnosis of silicosis can be sustained, and if (ii) it can be shown that their work has involved “tunnelling in, or quarrying sandstone or granite”.

We shall notify you on these pages when the relevant change occurs so that former coal miners suffering from these diseases can take advantage of these significant changes to the law.