Miner's Advice Home Page!
A message to working miners and ex-miners / Useful contacts
Who is David Douglass?
Recommended Reading
Links to other sites which may be of interest
The latest news
Mining 2000 - The Last Collieries
Please Sign Our GuestbookThis PageHatfield Main,   NUM Advice CentreMiner's Advice Reviews




To The Nameless Person Complaining About The North East Area

First off, the reason why you know my name, is because I have written replies to your complaints and assertions, I signed those responses. You have chosen not to acknowledge the replies or sign your name on this correspondence either. That forebye. Do I defend the deduction of a % from common law settlements by NUM Areas,( NUM Areas because all areas do it, by the way ) ? The Union has been whittled down to less than 5,000 paying full members, meantime there are 60,000 former mining pensioners or widows and offspring seeking to submit claims. How would the 5,000 full members ever pay enough subs to cover the administration costs and representation costs and adviser costs for the 60,000 plus claimants ? It cannot be done without charging the former miner or claimant a fee of some sort. Now then, the level of that fee is the real issue, not the fee itself. In Yorkshire, Arthur tried to introduce a percentage fee for DSS benefits recovered, I opposed that move and fortunately it was not pursued. However he did succeed in bringing in a 3% charge plus payment of back subs for limited members. This means, a man with a chest claim in, which runs for three, four or five years, will have deducted all that accumulated back subs, plus a 3% charge. Settlements for COAD tend to be around £2000 or less (for bronchitis) this means the man can have 10% 15% or 20 % deductions from his compensation. I have always opposed such charges and called for a maximum total cap of 5%, I have not been successful in that endeavour. A man can be working down the mine, paying full contributions and have an accident which makes him finish work, he finds he then becomes an Ill health retired member and while he will owe no back money he still has the 3% deduction from his compensation. This is true if the man finished through dust or white finger. It is also true of our sacked men, dismissed and victimised during the 84/85 strike. I happen to believe that is a scandal. Different areas charge different levels of deduction for the service they offer, I don't know any area which does it for free, nor do I know how they could, unless they provide no advice, and no representation and therefore incur no expenses. So, yes the practicality of the situation demands that some sort of charge be made, but this ought to be not too much. You seem to think what you call "The North East Area NUM" are doing something especially bad, they are not as I have demonstrated.

There is ,so far as I know, no "North East Area" scheme, I believe both Durham and Northumberland operate their own respective 'associate' schemes for running these claims, the Durham one makes you a member of the Durham Miners Association the Northumberland one just takes a deduction for the work they do but you aren't a member. In Yorkshire you become a Limited Member for the duration of the claim only. All of these schemes give you the right to advice, to have your claims against the employer and the DSS processed and to have representation before appeals and Tribunals. None of the normal commercial solicitors or incidentally free advice agencies such as CAB do all of this, so the service offered by the NUM is special, personal and focused. Most miners and former miners, widows and pensioners have been very grateful for the assistance they have received from all areas of the NUM. I would be very surprised if you have not with the help of the Durham Area recovered a substantial sum of money for your compensation claim , and I expect they are still working ,despite your criticism, on getting you further compensation.

Now then, on the question of the constitution of the NUM, you either know the answer to this and are just throwing dust in peoples eyes and causing confusion, or you genuinely don't understand. If you are who I think you are, you took this question to the TU. Certification Officer brought in by the Tories . They found the North East Area sound as a pound, and give you a detailed reason as to why. If you are not who I think you are I apologies. Let me explain. The current situation in the NUM is one of two mixed constitutions. We were in theory moving from an old constitution in which areas were their own separately constituted constituent areas affiliated to the 'national' Union, but preserving their own identity, rule book, officials and income etc. To one in which the old areas dissolved themselves into the national union, handed over funds and independence and became areas of the national union rather than area unions affiliated to a national 'federation' of sorts. At present Yorkshire and Nottingham are part of the new national structure, while Durham and Northumberland, Wales, Scotland, COSA etc. are not. The whole transition has stopped, because both sides have dug in following protracted, inter union warfare. Its about politics, and power and control, and distrust. You will know about his because your e-mail's are shots in that war. Nothing is as innocent as it seems. So yes we do have to all intents and purposes two sets of rules for two different types of body operating at the same time. That is a simple matter of the unions evolution and political struggle within it. The situation is unlikely to change because neither side will give way. So I don't mind your raising awkward questions and debate that is what this is all about and we welcome it. It might be helpful if anyone from the Durham or Northumberland Miners Associations responds and sets the record straight. Meantime I hasten to add that I am not an official of either of those areas and have no authority to speak for them.
David Douglass
NUM Branch Secretary Hatfield Main Branch .Doncaster.



Back to Our View