This week marks the end of an era in British industry and history. Miners at Kellingley mine in North Yorkshire colliery have worked their final shifts as the closure of the pit brings an end to centuries of deep coal mining in Britain. The mine, known by the community as the as the “Big K”, was the largest deep pit in Europe and could mine up to 900 tonnes an hour. At its height, Kellingley employed more than 2,000 workers, but today the remaining 450 miners will be thrown on the scrap heap.
The NUM Branch Secretary Keith Poulson said it was a “very sad day” for the country as well as the industry. It is more than a sad day – it is the abandonment of a heritage and the industrial future of Britain. Nations such as Germany are continuing to build coal fired plants; with the appropriate technology they can make a real impact on reducing contributions to greenhouse gases.
Instead of using British coal to fire British coal fired plants we will transport foreign imports, simply because it is cheaper. This is regardless of the working conditions of those miners, regardless of the environmental impact of transportation and regardless of the damaging effects on the communities of Britain. In Colombia, there are still child miners. In two rural municipalities of Colombia, the percentage of working children between 7 and 14 years old rises up to 24% (1 out of 4 children works). Most of these children work in coal mines. So our country could effectively be burning coal produced in conditions not unlike those in Victorian England.
Kellingley played a prominent role in the industrial action of 1984/85 when the Thatcher Government set about destroying the industry and the NUM. The destruction of the mining industry typifies the warped ideology of neoliberalism which cares nothing about the nation and only about lining pockets of the few.
An example of the struggles of Colombian miners: