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Former miners warn the government: Hands off our pension funds

EX-MINERS have gathered more than 100,000 signatures in a petition calling on the government to stop raiding their pension funds to the tune of billions of pounds.

Former miners from South Wales, protesting over the rip-off, will take the petition to Downing Street on March 6.

The Tories struck a deal with pension fund administrators following the privatisation of the coal mining industry in 1994, which meant the government would underwrite any losses the pensions’ investments suffered in the future.

In return the pension funds had to hand over 50 per cent of any surpluses accrued.

Since then, the pensions’ investments have produced a surplus every year, and the Treasury has received £5 billion which could otherwise have gone to retired miners or their widows.

Miners’ union the NUM has been campaigning for years to end the arrangement, but successive governments have refused.

The average pension for a miner is £84 a week and some miners’ widows receive as little as £10.

The South Wales petition has been organised by five retired miners, among them 84-year-old Harry Parfitt.

“We are all getting on, but we managed to achieve 100,000 signatures in the last three years,” he said. “The government is making £1 million a day out of the pension funds, and it is ex-miners and their widows who are getting £10 a week pensions.

“There’ll be four ex-miners from South Wales going to London, and three from England.”

Mr Parfitt will not be going with the delegation as he has mobility problems resulting from his working life as a miner.

The main Mineworkers Pension Scheme has about 200,000 members.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell will be guest speaker at the annual David Jones and Joe Green Memorial Lecture at the miners’ headquarters in Barnsley on Saturday March 9, starting at 10.45am.

The two men were killed on the picket line during the 1984-5 strike against pit closures. Also speaking will be Mike Jackson of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM).

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