Miners pension campaigners set to take 100,000 name petition to Downing Street

Supporters of the Mineworkers Pension Fairplay petition gather signatures outside the Four Seasons shopping centre. Pictured are from left, Amanda Fisher, Barry Wright, Harvey Hunt, Charles Chiverton, Mick Newton and Steve Betts.
Supporters of the Mineworkers Pension Fairplay petition gather signatures outside the Four Seasons shopping centre. Pictured are from left, Amanda Fisher, Barry Wright, Harvey Hunt, Charles Chiverton, Mick Newton and Steve Betts.

On Wednesday (March 6) former mineworkers from the Mansfield area will join others from across the UK to present a 100,000 name petition at 10 Downing Street.

The Chad which has covered the campaign from day one will be covering the event on the day.

The petition calls for a review of the mineworkers’ pension arrangements for more than 150,000 former mineworkers and widows.

Former miners feel they have been “robbed” of half their pension fund and say it is an injustice that their pension fund worth billions of pounds has been siphoned off by successive governments.

Under a deal made in the 1990s, the Government agreed to underwrite the pension, but in return take a huge chunk of the surplus each year - with £750 million paid into Government coffers last year alone.

The UK Mineworkers Pension Association for Justice and Fair Play is campaigning to get the 50-50 split of pension surplus renegotiated.

Mick Newton of the UK Mineworkers Pension Association said: “The size of our petition quite clearly and overwhelmingly demonstrates the passion and anger in our coalfield communities.

“We call this the great pension deception, because the pension fund was worth £27 billion back in 1994 and is now worth £11bn.

“We want a three -year review set up monitoring miners’ pensions, and for money to be returned to the miners and their families.”

“The historic government intervention in the mineworkers pension fund has been treated as a steady source of funding for the Government and is nothing short of a national scandal.

“Mine workers and widows would be receiving double what they are currently getting if the pension fund had been allowed to retain investment returns.”

Mr Newton, a former Thoresby Colliery miner added: “In real terms our pensions have been slashed in half by successive governments - we have been financially penalised all the way to the grave.”

In 1994 at the time of privatisation the Government and the Mineworkers Pension Fund agreed a deal to secure mineworkers’ pensions for the future.

At the time the Government advised the deal would be based on a 70/30 per cent split of investment returns.

The share of the pension surpluses would amount to no more than £2 billion over a 20 year period.

Since 1994 the Government has changed that share to 50/50 - after tax, Mick Newton says this is now 30/70 in the Government’s favour.

Mr Newton added: “This so-called guarantee has resulted in a massive take from the mineworkers with £5 billion from the Mineworkers Pension Scheme and a similar amount from the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme since 1994.

The ultimate insult is that successive governments have used the pension to pay the mineworkers their redundancy, compensation for industrial injuries and for regeneration schemes in former coalfield communities.”

“Our call for action is very urgent due to the sad loss of 10,000 former mineworkers and widows every single year, through premature death due to mining related illness.”

Presenters of the Petition will include former mineworkers from South Wales, Yorkshire, the North East, Kent and Nottinghamshire.