The HR director in charge of the Selby mine closure has found himself in the paradoxical position of fighting the unions to safeguard more than 2,000 jobs.
Norman Haslam, managing director of HR at UK Coal, is trying to persuade other mines to work around the clock to accommodate miners from Selby.
Haslam told Personnel Today that while 2,100 jobs at Selby are to be phased out by 2004, a move to introduce more flexible working arrangements at other pits could save some of those jobs.
He said: "They [the union] are not keen for a Saturday and Sunday rota, but we are seeking 24/7 working."
Steve Kemp, national secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers is opposed to the suggestion of mass relocation and a change of working hours.
"To demand transfers [to flexible working] is disturbing to say the least. It's almost blackmail," he said.
The union is likely to ballot on strike action if a change in work structure is demanded.
Selby is due to close following losses of £107m over the past three-and-a-half years.
Workers were told of the closure as they exited the pits last Tuesday. In a series of face-to-face interviews they will be asked about their preferences, with voluntary retirement, retraining and relocation all being options.
The Government has offered a £40m aid package - £30m to regenerate the region and £10m to UK Coal to allow it to extend redundancy packages.