Miners won’t give up fight for pension justice

Ronnie Campbell
Ronnie Campbell

One of the biggest scandals of the past 20 years has been the way successive governments have taken £3.3bn from the pension fund of ex-miners.

This is because of a deal made in the 1990s when the then Tory government agreed to underwrite the fund, but in return took a vast lump of the surplus each year.

As both a Labour MP and an ex-miner, it pains me to say that the scandal carried on through the 13 years my party was in power, and is ongoing. That is why I fully support the campaign by the UK Mineworkers Pension Association for Justice and Fair Play.

This shameful story began back in 1987 when British Coal took a pensions contributions holiday, saving £4.87bn, which it spent on redundancy payments following the closure of 75 pits.

In 1994, the government required funding to off-set compensation awards for miners, and used the pension fund. That year the government gained unlimited access to our surpluses.

In 1997, the Labour government came into power with a promise to change things. It did – it made it even worse. Two years later ministers instructed the then Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to remove every penny that would be paid to miners and their widows in compensation, and no other funding would be available.

Ex-miners have been fighting for a fair deal ever since. Anyone who knows miners knows that we never stop fighting.