Kellingley miners should walk out today 'with heads held high'

Yvette Cooper MP
Yvette Cooper MP

As miners at Kellingley Colliery prepare to leave the coal face for a final time, Pontefract, Castleford and Knottingley MP Yvette Cooper has said the men should walk away with their heads held high.

The closure of the pit today marks the end of deep coal mining in the UK and an end of an era for Yorkshire's coal communities.

Ms Cooper said: "This is a sad day for all of us to see the last working pit in Britain close - especially after we have fought for two years to keep it open.

“A hundred years ago, over 1 million men worked in the coal industry, and today the last 450 will work their final shift. The coal they cut through generations powered the industrial revolution, stoked the trains, lit the furnaces, and kept the home fires burning.

“Most of us round here have coal in our blood - family who worked in the local pits or further afield. So today is devastating for the whole community.

"As the last UK miners walk out today they can hold their heads high - all our coalfield towns are incredibly proud of the work miners have done in this area for generations.”

Ms Cooper accused the government and UK coal of "betraying" the miners, who she said will only receive statutory redundancy pay, a deal much worse than miners who lost their jobs in the 1980s.

She said: "The government and UK Coal have badly let down the miners at Kellingley. They failed on EU state aid and to find alternative investors. They deliberately dragged their feet, pushed costs up.

“But even worse they are now forcing the last miners out with only statutory redundancy pay - a far worse deal even than the miners got under Thatcher.

"The Kellingley miners have stayed loyal until the end - their work has kept UK Coal from going bust and saved the government tens of millions of pounds. Yet in return they have been betrayed.

“Many of us are furious at the Government's outrageous treatment of the miners and the coalfields."