Dozens of miners who lost their jobs after the closure of Hatfield Colliery are being urged to fight for compensation payments after their employer allegedly failed to properly consult will them.
The closure of Hatfield – one of the last deep coal mines in the UK – was announced at the end of June, with the loss of more than 400 jobs.
Now, lawyers representing a number of the former mineworkers have urged others affected by the closure to join the legal fight for compensation after the redundancies.
Shaun Duffy, an employment specialist with Raleys Solicitors, said: “The law is quite clear in cases like this.
“Where groups of 20 or more workers are affected by redundancy then an employer has a duty and legal requirement to go through a period of consultation.
“If the employer fails to comply with this regulation, then those workers affected are able to make a protective award compensation claim.”
The announcement of the intentionto close Hatfield, was made on June 29.
“From the next day onwards, workers were being immediately dismissed on the grounds of redundancy,” said Mr Duffy.
“We are being told that there was no consultation whatsoever with these men. Miners who had given years of their lives to the colliery were just sent packing.”
Although many of the former staff are members of the National Union of Mineworkers and are being represented by the union, Mr Duffy said more than 100 miners from across the region were not members and would therefore need help in bringing their claims. There is a September 28 deadline.
“We already have a number of clients and we know from them that there are dozens of their former colleagues that may be unaware that they have the right to bring this claim,” said Mr Duffy.
“But the clock is ticking. If they fail to begin the claims procedure before the deadline next month, there may be no further course of action for them to take and they run the risk of missing out on a potentially substantial award.”
Mr Duffy said that where an employer is insolvent, the Redundancy Payments Service can make payments to ensure workers owed money by a former employer are not left out of pocket.
John Grogan, the former chairman of the Hatfield Employee Benefit Trust, which owned the colliery, said: “Because the Government pulled the plug on Hatfield, refusing any more financial support, the directors of the company had to cease operations immediately. To have done otherwise would have involved trading illegally once it became clear the business was insolvent.
“The company was able to meet all redundancy payments and outstanding pay. I would urge all former miners to take legal advice to see what they might be entitled to claim from the Government’s Insolvency fund.”