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WELSH COALFIELD

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WELSH COALFIELD ;'¡" -4 Remarkable Speech by M r. Geo. Barker I f%- â¢- i ? DELIVERED AT A PRIVATE li -WEETING Mr. Vy. Brace, M.P., and the Pressman At the meting of the "Western Va-Heys Miners' Council at Abertillery on Tuesday Mr. G. Barker (miners' agent) spoke at length on the unrest in the coalfield. Ho said tbat; the Conciliation Board had been tried 'in thb balance, and the scoop had always deflected to the employers' coffers, and the workers were conscious that they were bbiag 8upeff: In the shipping, railway, and minltig'industries the on the vcmc, of revolt, and not without cause. The South Wales miners had recently been refused by Lord St. Aldwyn the mcas-ro advance of 2; per cent. The owners' figures provâ¬<f that there had been an. increase in prices of 10r.4,ld, per ten, which on a. weekly output 01 a million tons meant that X41,000 was going additionally to th« -jdk> share- holders, who were already reaping enormous profits. Even under the oid agreement, the miners would be entitled to an advance of I 11 74 pt-r -.ei-t on such a rise in pricey, which on a weekly wage-sheet of LZMooo would hare Meant in additional £ 15,000 a week for the South 'Vals miners: "Was there any wonder that there was unrest among the {South1 Wile £ miners, an iutelligMtniody of wealth-producers, who1' were" toeing"- exploited in such an old Jieftrew f^snfon? There woiild bo' more "unreat' soon.' Wfrth' reference to the proposed reform t>f'the Federation, he would heartifry rccdmmend" tho'suft'-cfainiitteo which had been appointed to consider the aniend- ment of the coristifutioh to havo a'jolfit audit, taken as to-the selling pricee of-<kal and the Volume Of trades and profits. Ho wolf id also sug"st,that,tn auditor should be engaged lor the purpose. If the audit' v;,is reiusod the executive council s-hould' rail a. general confereface and advise the workmen to terminate' their otohnetflfoff'with the Con- ciliation1-Board.-The owoers'and tne workers were engaged" jointly ill' The "pi-bdiictioh "tff wealth, but while the owners knew what the workers recei^df the' latter" wefe Hi ""totire ignorance as to" the profits of the- owners-. ⢠How could arbitfitflon under such con- ditions give equitable results? All miners receiving lesa than the 3s. 4d. per day under the ctanHatd or 1879 with the per- centage should at once be authorised to apply for an advance to, bring them up io that rate, and when such a reasonable relueot was refused-the men should be authorised to tender a. month's notice,. That t4,ere were defecte in the constitution of tho F--dera tiOIL 1 wont without, saying, but. how was the oxec^-v tive council of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain elected? How many members of tho Federation, had a direct vote in the Election of the body which bad the power to direct the policy .of the F'ederation? They should certainly -be elated, directly .by men who were governed by their yolicy. It vr,143 of the utmost importance tha.t they should end .th.e, present.,foolish, .method of, making the wage, agreements for England,' Scotland, and South Wales at different times The preeent system was self-stultifying. There should be. a, general wages committer, consisting of onerepreeentati ve from eac-h district, to specially collect information and witch the wage iNerrels. of .,the workmen. Its duty should, bo to level up the wages. of all under-paid workmen. There should be no delay in. increasing the contribu- tions to the Federation, but not. in his opinion to crpate an out-of-work fund. There were probably always 5 per cent. of colliery employes idle, which would mean in South Wal,* that about £ 3,500 of the contributions would go every week in that direetion, and thus at the enii cf five years theworkmen would be- in the satn-e position as" they were BOW. only havirfg- the satiefac- tion of knowing that they had relieved the remainder of tlie community ol their reepon- sibility for the relief of the unemployed workers of the coalfield. Instead of the increased contribution going for aa out-of- wouk fund it should be utilised to create a a efficient and powerful defence and fighting fund. The starvation strike-pay of 10s. per ,%ee.k sboulci be Increased to lbs. per week, and a vigorous and m- Ilitant policy should be adopted to increase the wages of the lower- paid men, including thqre working in abnormal places. It was on such lines that reforms 6notild take place. The miners should also form an alliance with-the rail waymen -a"n<l Seamen'r. Union. The old method of a Union for each trade was obsolete, '&nd_ not in harmony with modern. condition^. â! £ he capitalists were combined in huge trusts, and the workers should follow suit and have one intorest-the securing for labour its, full share of its product. Mr. jjrape. M.P.. who, as advisory agent; was present the uaeeting. it is understood delivered a strong reply to Mr. Barker's speech, bjut when. ppokten to la.teT by our representative h -,e &a-id that he co-uld not give a summary of his speech, as he under- stood that the meeting was private and con- fined to the .council

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