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.