70 workers axed at Doncaster pit

Hatfield Colliery at Stainforth.
Hatfield Colliery at Stainforth.
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Doncaster’s last remaining pit has made more than 70 workers redundant - but the future of the mine is secure, according to bosses.

Hatfield Colliery was forced to carry out a raft of compulsory redundancies after a month-long consultation with workers at the pit, privately run by mining firm Hatfield Colliery Ltd.

But a spokesman for the firm and union officials have pledged the long-term prospects for the business, which employs nearly 700, remain strong.

Hatfield Colliery spokesman Mike O’Sullivan said: “It is always a matter of huge regret when people are made redundant, but to secure the future viability of the pit we have to look all measures.

“However, Hatfield Colliery is not in trouble. The pit is continuing to operate normally and produce coal and the plan is for it to continue to be viable and profitable.”

Mr O’Sullivan said the redundancies had been forced on Hatfield Colliery following a decision to introduce a new shift pattern at the mine, the only remaining colliery in the Doncaster area.

The number of shifts had been increased from three to four with more men brought in to cover the workloads in a bid to increase productivity, around a year ago.

But he admitted that, due to geological issues, costs and other problems, bosses had decided to revert back to the three shift system - meaning the men brought in to work the additional shifts were no longer required.

He added: “We didn’t get the result we had anticipated and there were several technical issues underground that meant we had to go back to the three shift pattern.”

Mr O’Sullivan said the company had been working with various agencies, including Doncaster Council and local job centres, to find new employment for the workers, which range from coal face workers to managers.

Chris Kitching, president of the National Union of Mineworkers, also blamed the losses on geological issues at the pit and added: “The mine wasn’t producing enough coal on a four shift system to keep everyone in a job.

“The firm had originally proposed more than 90 redundancies, but the NUM has managed to bring that number down and save some of the jobs.

“The hope now is going back to a three shift system will maintain and secure long-term employment of those still at Hatfield.

“Obviously, nobody’s future is guaranteed but we think going back to a three shift system and producing consistently will help secure the long-term future of the colliery.”

It has been a torrid 12 months for Hatfield. In February this year, a massive spoil tip landslide at the pit wrecked the main railway line between Doncaster and Scunthorpe, buckling tracks and causing severe disruption for more than six months.

The railway lines are open again now.