UK coal digs itself out of a hole and saves 2,000 jobs

Its pension liability is going to the PPF but two mines will remain open

by Gabriella Griffith
Last Updated: 10 Jul 2013
Struggling miner UK Coal has reached an agreement which will save 2,000 jobs but see miners’ pensions cut.

The rescue deal follows yesterday’s decision to put part of the company into administration. It will ensure two of the company's deep coal mines stay open, preserving jobs there.

The company’s £543m pension liability will be taken on by the PPF, the government’s inundated pension protection fund. The fund will only partially honour the pension promises made to past and present workers, meaning the retirement savings of some 7,000 people will take a hit.
 
'Entering administration and the subsequent restructuring was the only way we could preserve any of the business, and while I’m delighted we’ve saved 2,000 jobs, we’ve also had to make some very difficult decisions,' said Kevin McCullough, chief executive of UK Coal.

The already struggling company ran into severe trouble following a fire at Daw Mill in February, one of its three pits. Alas, 350 jobs will be lost at Daw Mill, with 120 workers transferred to its other sites.

Troubles aside, UK Coal still fuels 6% of the nation’s electricity supply and a third of the country’s domestic coal supply. The historic industry may seem like an archaic remnant of our past but it remains a vital part of Britain’s energy strategy. We certainly don’t want to lose it.

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