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Miners at fire-hit pit dig in for cash; FIGHT OVER DAW MILL REDUNDANCY PAYMENTS.

MINERS cast aside with the closure of Warwickshire's last pit claim they are now being "shafted" over redundancy payments.

Despairing workers who lost their jobs with the closure of Daw Mill Colliery near Fillongley are facing a new fight - to get what they believe their full entitlement.

The coal mine was shut down last month after a massive underground fire, putting 400 miners out of work. Dave Meuse, who worked at Daw Mill Colliery for 39 years and is union branch secretary, said: "It looks like we could end up with half of our entitlements.

Our contractual terms are not being honoured because the pit owners UK Coal say they cannot afford it. We have been told the situation may change if the insurance money comes through, but this is just not good enough.

"Basically, we are being offered an IOU - and IOUs don't pay the bills."

Before the fire six weeks ago the mine's future was already in question, although things had begun to improve and there were signs of optimism. "We accept that the fire was a big one. But it is difficult to accept the decision to immediately call it a day," said Mr Meuse.

"There is a still a huge amount of good quality coal, in thick seams, at Daw Mill and I've got lots of blokes willing to risk their lives in an attempt to get the pit back in action. Obviously, safety is paramount but the area affected by the fire could be sealed. Sadly, UK Coal don't want to know.

"The workforce have gone from feeling shock and anger to being in absolute despair. We've been dumped on the scrapheap, it's as simple as that. To make matters worse, we are now being shafted over what is due to us in redundancy money."

Andrew Mackintosh, from UK Coal, said: "The loss of Daw Mill, because of the fire, was a major shock to our business and our main priority has been to try and keep the remaining 2,000 jobs across the company. We have been keeping the Daw Mill workers informed of the situation regarding their redundancy and it is our aim to make sure they are eventually paid what they are owed."

CAPTION(S):

Daw Mill Colliery, which was under threat, was shut down by a massive blaze. Inset, miners at the bit during its boom times.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Apr 20, 2013
Words:396
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