As troubled Thoresby Colliery faced another blow this week, Local Campaigner Léonie Mathers called on heavyweight backup for redundant miners.
Léonie asked Shadow Work & Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves MP to meet with some of the 270 employees who were sent redundancy notices earlier this month, and the Shadow Minister was shocked at what she heard about the lack of support being offered.
Now Ms Reeves has now written to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, and Energy Minister Michael Fallon to remind them of the promise the Government made to provide a ‘Rapid Response’ service to help get the miners back into work.
Despite the Government promises, Ms Reeves and Ms Mathers heard that support offered so far has been minimal. Miners told how they gave their details to JobCentre staff ‘weeks ago’ but have yet to hear back, and said they have been told they would not access retraining until they had been unemployed for six months.
Ms Reeves has today written to Conservative Work and Pension Secretary Iain Duncan Smith and Energy Minister Michael Fallon urging them to work fast to support the miners.
Fears are increased by UK Coal’s announcement that Hargreaves Services Plc, who had been expected to invest £5m in the wind-down of Thoresby over the next 16 months were no longer prepared to be part of the bid - raising the possibility that twice as many jobs could go imminently.
Thoresby Campaigner Léonie Mathers, who invited Ms Reeves to Edwinstowe, said:“Despite Hargreaves pulling out of the deal, I’m still fighting to keep Thoresby open. As long as 40% of our energy still comes from coal it’s vital for our national energy security that we still have some British Coal to rely on.
“But we also need to make sure the guys who are already leaving Thoresby have access to new jobs and skills. It’s just not good enough for the Government to turn their backs on almost 300 men and leave them sat at home on benefits.”