A key ballot of miners at the Midlands’ last remaining pit is to be held in a new bid to stave off its threatened closure by 2014 – and save more than 600 jobs.
The Union of Democratic Mineworkers and owners UK Coal have issued a joint statement confirming plans to introduce new shift patterns at Daw Mill and potentially save the region’s last colliery from the axe.
Workers have already rejected by a two-thirds majority initial plans to lengthen night-shifts at Daw Mill, but a new round of talks has been launched to try to save the colliery, between Tamworth and Coventry.
A joint UDM/UK Coal statement said: “A further consultation meeting has been held between Daw Mill management and the UDM with a view to resolving the issues associated with the future of the mine.
“During the meeting shift patterns were considered which would provide sufficient MAT (Machine Availability Time) that would help to support the continuation of the mine.
“Taking account of the feedback from the workforce, the focus was on patterns as close to the current start and finishing times as possible.
“It was concluded that new working arrangements could be considered but that before they are put forward, the whole picture would need to be developed and set out, including any other proposed changes before these are all put to a ballot at the mine.
“As stated in March, for Daw Mill to have a future beyond 2014, the mine needs to consistently produce coal and become more efficient. Shift patterns are just one element of increasing efficiency, but play an important part in reducing the mines costs and stabilising production.”
Dave Meuse, UDM branch secretary at Daw Mill, said the first ballot had been rejected due to fears that new shift changes would increase the working day for miners who already commuted long distances to Daw Mill.
“The main change was on the night-shift where, at the moment, we do nine and a half hours and they want to extend it to 11, so that they spend more time on the job.
“But we have got lads coming in from Mansfield and some from the Nottinghamshire border with Yorkshire, travelling an hour and a half each way. At the end of the day, the men will decide. There is still hope for Daw Mill, and where there is hope, we will keep trying.”