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Retired mineworkers struggling to pay bills as government pockets billions from their pensions, union warns

RETIRED mineworkers are struggling to pay bills as the cost-of-living crisis worsens, while the government creams billions of pounds out of their pension fund, their union warned yesterday.

Under a deal between pension fund trustees and the government when the coal industry was privatised in 1994, the government takes 50 per cent of any surpluses mineworkers’ pension investments earn in return for guaranteeing to underwrite any losses.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said that there have been only minuscule losses, while the government has taken more than £4.5 billion out of the surpluses.

At least 75,000 retired mineworkers receive a pension of less than £84 a week.

The union has campaigned for more than 20 years for the agreement to be changed but the government has repeatedly refused.

NUM general secretary Chris Kitchen told the Morning Star: “It is unfair and immoral and shows how morally bankrupt the current government is, that they are prepared to continue this practice.

“The House of Commons’ business, energy and industrial strategy select committee said we were right and said it was unfair and immoral.

“It is a cross-party committee and the decision was unanimous, but the government still refused.”

He said it was ironic that Britain was facing catastrophic increases in energy bills “given that we could have been energy self-reliant if we had developed Clean Coal Technology.”

Meanwhile, Welsh Economy Minister Vaughan Gething has written to Westminster asking the government to change the agreement.

The government said in a statement: “We remain committed to protecting the pensions of mineworkers and ensuring they are paid their full entitlement.”

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