Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/886/22121
Capitalism ensures the end for deep coal mining in Britain
Malik J Rofidi, Selby Socialist Party
Kellingley Colliery closure marks the end of deep coal mining jobs in Britain and is a casualty of capitalism.
My thoughts and best wishes for the future go out to the 450 workers who have lost their jobs due to the closure of the pit in December 2015. It was a sad time for them, their community and indeed the country.
This is a sensitive issue. The tendency has been to depoliticise this matter somewhat, those who draw political links have been accused of using it as a "political football". However, the fact is that the politics behind this is inescapable.
Quite simply, within this capitalist system Kellingley's days were numbered.
As ludicrous as it sounds, it made sense for Drax power station, Kellingley's big client situated a stone's throw away, to import coal from thousands of miles away as it would be cheaper for them than using the coal beneath their feet.
Why is this so? It is ultimately because through years of struggle, workers in this country's coal industry have won better conditions - essential improvements in health and safety and the working environment, and fairer pay.
They are being undercut by coal suppliers who exploit their workers more effectively, such as in Colombia.
We stand in solidarity with those workers overseas who are exploited to a greater degree. Who wins? Not workers whose greater exploitation is justified by their employers. The Kellingley miners certainly don't win.
And let's consider the environmental cost - transporting coal thousands of miles when there is coal right beneath you?
We should make the transition to cleaner, renewable energy but while the technology is being developed and introduced, the coal that we still require would be better coming from the same area, as Drax's does from Kellingley.
Under capitalism, however, importing from Colombia is the right choice for Drax to make the greatest profit and stay competitive. They do not take into account the social and economic cost to the local area.
Profit should not be the driving force behind production. We need nationalisation under democratic workers' control and management to allow planning of resources to meet society's needs.
We could then both protect jobs and working conditions and plan the phasing out of coal and phasing in of cleaner, renewable energy.
I think these are goals well worth fighting for.
In The Socialist 27 January 2016:
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Teachers under attack
International socialist news and analysis
What we think
Council cuts and the fight in Labour
Workplace news and analysis
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