Closure-threatened Daw Mill Colliery in Warwickshire could survive against the odds – despite the last miners in the West Midlands facing the pit’s first compulsory job losses in over 50 years.
Owners UK Coal are seeking 113 redundancies early next year at the North Warwickshire colliery, including underground workers – and the Union of Democratic Mineworkers fears many miners could be forced out.
But the UDM remains hopeful that the mooted end of production in March 2014 may not spell the end of the road for the colliery, still the UK’s biggest deep coal mine.
Talks are planned to establish what criteria will be used to choose the employees who leave – but the UDM believes compulsory job losses are inevitable.
A UDM spokesman said: “In September, we had 26 people go and another 20 are due to go at the end of October.
“These are voluntary redundancies but there are another 113 to go early next year, including miners and other staff. We want to know how they are going to decide who goes.
“We have had a lot of men come through Daw Mill over the years and they have left when they wanted to. When they had pit closures before, the men have always been able to transfer elsewhere but now, there is nowhere for them to go.
“It looks like they will have to start making people compulsorily redundant, which has not happened in Warwickshire since 1968, when they closed Arley Colliery. They would be the first compulsory redundancies ever at Daw Mill.”
But the UDM says the pit could yet be thrown a lifeline despite UK Coal’s warning that production will cease by March 2014.
“They have said that they will cease production but that might not mean that it will shut. They can stop production, put it out to care and maintenance, and another company might come in and buy the pit.
“We would still love to keep the pit open – we have asked for meetings to see if there is anything we can do to extend the life of Daw Mill.”
UK Coal spokesman Gordon Grant said: “We do envisage some redundancies at the beginning of next year. We would always look for volunteers but we cannot guarantee that compulsory redundancies are not going to be necessary.”
He described UDM claims that Daw Mill’s life could be extended as ‘speculative.’