A RETIRED miner who put almost half a century into the industry is now worried that he could be ‘left with nothing’ following a recent cyber attack - though he hasn’t blamed the hackers for the issue.
Hundreds of ex-miners across the town had their data compromised following the attack on Capita - the service which holds all information from the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme - in March.
Alex Mathewson, 69, from Pogmoor, dedicated almost half a century to the mining industry working at collieries like Elsecar, Barnburgh and Selby.
But he now feels he could be left with ‘nothing’ - and is demanding an apology from Capita.
“It was upsetting that the press knew before I knew,” Alex said.
“When you’ve given nearly 50 years of blood, sweat and tears and then you’re told something like this has happened, you feel let down.
“When I found out, I immediately contacted my bank and building society because I was worried that all I had worked for was at risk.
“I’m quite switched on with technology, but a few of the older miners won’t have had a clue what a breach even is.
“Most don’t even have internet banking so they wouldn’t know even if they were hacked.”
In 2018, the National Mineworkers’ Pension Campaign, a group set up for miners of which Alex is a member, raised objections to Capita’s management of the scheme, but their calls for change weren’t actioned.
The cyber attack in March targeted people’s pensions which were administered via Capita’s systems, resulting in individuals falling prey to phishing attempts, fraudulent calls and emails purportedly from their providers.
Following the incident, The Pensions Regulator made contact with more than 300 funds, encouraging investigation into whether their personal data had been compromised.
Alex, who first went down the mines at 16, is now questioning whether it was even worth it.
“It was 800 metres into the mines, and I would then have to take a four-mile train journey alongside 150 other men, followed by a two-mile walk just to reach the coal face,” he added.
“It got to 40 degrees with colleagues occasionally fainting due to dehydration.
“I now live with rheumatoid arthritis, and I’ve had my hips and shoulders replaced since I retired.
“It’s like the rug has been taken from beneath our feet.
“It’s disgusting that a huge organisation like Capita can let this happen.
“They’ve handled it terribly.
“When you get to my age you expect to be able to take it easier and enjoy your life, not having to worry about your life’s savings.”
Stephanie Peacock, MP for Barnsley East, has long been campaigning for more support for retired miners - and she has been in touch with Capita about the recent breach, asking them to do more to protect those affected.
She said: “I recently met with Capita to discuss the recent data breach that affected many former mineworkers, including those who live in Barnsley East.
“The Capita data breach of former mineworkers’ pensions is understandably very worrying for those who have been affected.
“I have written to Capita, raised this matter in Parliament, and I have recently met with them to discuss this issue and how we can ensure that it will be prevented in the future.”
Alex has now asked for help from Barings Law in a bid to gain a formal apology - and he wants miners to come together against the firm.
“Many people would say miners were the backbone of this country,” he added.
“We worked hard and we thought that people looking after the money would do their job.
“We were never greedy men and would generally accept a reasonable living in order to provide for our loved ones.
“So, when we’re let down like this it really does hurt.
“I don’t blame the hackers.
“If your motorbike is stolen and you’ve left the garage door open, then it’s your own fault.
Capita, in my opinion, left the door wide open with a sign at the top saying ‘take what you want’.
“They are a huge company and should have been able to deal with this.
“I just hope myself and the hundreds of other miners can get the justice we deserve.”