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Last Updated: Friday, 4 March, 2005, 09:43 GMT
Mining job losses 'not replaced'
Tower Colliery, south Wales
Tower is the last mine on the south Wales coalfield
Employment in the south Wales coalfield is lagging behind other ex-mining areas of the UK 20 years after the end of the miners' strike, research has found.

A new study on the 20th anniversary of the end of the 1984-5 dispute has found that more than 20,000 mining jobs in Wales still have not been replaced.

The Sheffield Hallam University research also found lower pay and high levels of ill-health.

The Welsh Assembly Government said it had created 122,000 jobs since 1999.

Professor Stephen Fothergill, who led the research, said the findings were a "sad reflection" on the scale of the job losses in the coal industry.

Since the mines have closed, everyone has had to move out of the valleys to get work
Ex-miner Terry Hiatt

The study said that only 60% of coal job losses in England and Wales since the early 1980s had been replaced by other forms of employment - often more poorly paid than work in the pits.

Researchers fund 90,000 coal jobs throughout the UK have not been replaced - 22,000 in south Wales.

While smaller mining areas in Leicestershire and Warwickshire were well on the way to full recovery, others, such as Northumberland and, in particular, south Wales, had made slow progress, the report said.

Mr Fothergill estimated it could take another 10 to 15 years for a full economic recovery.

'Hard times'

The report also points to around a 100,000 former miners in the UK who are classed as "hidden unemployed" because they are claiming incapacity benefits.

Former colliers in the Garw Valley, near Bridgend, told BBC Wales that unemployment had been a problem in the area since the end of the miners' strike.

Kevin Beynon, a former miner in the valley's Ocean Colliery, said: "A lot of people fell on hard times.

"There's quite a number of boys (unemployed). Some have gone with ill health - the majority can't find work."

Many miners have not worked since the pits closed

Former miner Terry Hiatt, who opened his own double glazing business in the aftermath of the pit closures, said more should be done to provide employment in coalfield areas.

He added: "Since the mines have closed, everyone has had to move out of the valleys to get work.

"A lot have gone self-employed and retrained , some it's worked for and some it hasn't."

Ogmore MP Huw Irranca-Davies added that the pool of potential workers in the south Wales valleys should be used.

He said: : "We should be tapping into the entrepreneurship of the south Wales valleys. "We have so many people in the valleys who are untapped talent thrown on the scrapheap."

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said action had been taken to regenerate coalfield areas.

A statement said: "Since 1999, 122,000 new jobs have been created by the Welsh Assembly Government.

"Recent figures show average earnings in Wales have increased more than any other UK region demonstrating that we have not only dealt with the scourge of mass unemployment, but created high quality jobs which are transforming our economy."

In 1981, the coal industry employed 229,000 workers in England and Wales, but just 7,000 are employed today.

Only eight pits remain open in the UK today - including Tower near Hirwaun in south Wales - compared with 170 at the time of the miners' strike.

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