RETIRED mineworkers would receive an average of £770 per year more in pensions under a future Labour government.

It follows a successful motion to Labour’s recent national conference, backed by party members in County Durham.

The National Union of Mineworkers’ motion, supported by Bishop Auckland Constituency Labour Party (CLP), was adopted by conference delegates in Brighton.

It relates to a pension scheme arrangement, dating from British Coal privatisation in 1994, which retired mineworkers believe has fleeced them of several billion pounds.

The ruling Conservative regime of the day was said to have pressured the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme into a take-it-or-leave-it deal.

It meant if they wanted any guarantee on their pensions, they would have to surrender half of any surplus to the Government, for a “rainy-day fund.”

Labour activists said since there has been “no rainy day” and successive governments have taken more than £4.4 billion from the scheme, giving nothing back.

They claim it is money earned by mineworkers, but taken by the Government, while their £84 weekly pensions are said to be well below the national average.

Bishop Auckland CLP and the NUM agreed a joint motion to the conference calling for the £1.2 billion to be returned to ex-mineworkers, their widows and children.

Seconding it, Sam Rushworth, vice-chair of Bishop Auckland CLP, said it was no radical move.

“It’s simply returning £1.2 billion back to the retired miners who earned it, and to their widows and children.

“This will see an uplift of, on average, of £770 per year for every pensioner.

“That’s money they’d be spending in their communities or using to support children or grandchildren to have the opportunities everybody deserves, but too many lack.”

After the motion won unanimous conference support , Mr Rushworth said: “We hope this is the first win of many.

“The next step is getting Labour to pledge to restore the grant to the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, which was cut under the Conservatives, and making sure more of the billions of pounds of investment Labour plans in green energy, including training and university places, comes to County Durham, so our young can have the skilled jobs of the future.”

He added that it was, "a significant milestone" in the fight for pension equality for ex-mineworkers.

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