The Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers wrote to me on 20 December 2003 to express concern that UK Coal had announced reviews of three collieries shortly after being offered £36.5 million of Coal Investment Aid. The letter also expressed concern about UK Coal's plans for flexible working arrangements at Kellingley Colliery and sought to link the award of aid to UK Coal with a commitment that there would be no redundancies or colliery closures.
In my reply of 26 January 2004, I noted the union's views. I also noted that the company had accepted the offer of up to 30 per cent. support for planned investment at five of its eight mines, including for Kellingley, and said that it would be in the best interests of everyone connected with these mines that UK Coal should be able to develop these investment plans without further delay. (I can confirm that it has since accepted the offers of aid for two of the three mines in review.) My letter also said that flexible working arrangements are a matter for UK Coal.