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THE PLYMOUTH CRISIS. MASS MEETING AT THE THEATRE. Another mass meeting of the workmen connected with the Plymouth Collieries was held on Thursday morning at the Theatre Royal, by kind permission of the lessee.—Mr. Robbins presided.—The first resolu- tion expressed the indignation of the meeting with the proposal of the Coalowners' Association with regard to the discharge notes, calling upon the repre- sentatives of the men on the Joint Sliding-scale Com- mittee to meet as soon as possible, and to endeavour to stop this unfair practice.—It was also resolved, That we, as unemployed workmen, tender our sincere thanks to the members of the District Council for the courteous manner they receiyed the deputation for the purpose of laying our request for work before them, also for the prompt action taken in searching for various requirements for public works, so as to find employment for as many as possible, thereby assisting to keep want and distress from the district." -It was further resolved to tender a hearty vote of thanks to Mr. Smithson, lessee of the theatre, for lending the building for the meeting free of charge.- An appeal for assistance is being sent out by Mr. J. Evans, secretary, on behalf of the Plymouth work- men, to the colliery workmen of South Wales. A notice has also been given by the leaders warning persons not to give monetary help to anyone unless they produce the books used by the committee, and containing their namea, MEETING OF THE DISTRICT COUNCIL. A special meeting of the District Council was held on Friday evening, there being present Messrs. T. H. Bailey, D. Davies, Dan Thomas, J. Lewis, J. Evans, Tom Thomas, D. James, V. A. Wills, W. Lewis, and T. F. Harvey (surveyor), and G. C. James (clerk). The chair at the commencement was occupied by Mr. Bailey.—The Clerk read the requisition calling the meeting, signed by Messrs. Dan Thomas, Joseph Owen, and J. Harpur.—Mr. D. Davies proposed, Mr. T. Thomas seconded, and the Chairman supported, a vote of condolence with Mr. and Mrs. H. W. Lewis, Abercanaid, on the death of their daughter also with Mrs. Bell and family on the death of Major Bell. Mr. Bailey then said he would prefer not to occupy the chair that evening for reasons which he need not dwell upon. The vice-president was not present, and he therefore asked the Council to elect another chair- man.—Mr. T. Thomas moved, and Mr. J. Lewis seconded, that Mr. D. Davies lie elected.-rhis was carried, and Mr. Davies then took the chair. The Clerk read the following letter, which he had sent to the Local Government Board "Re Unemployed.—On the 30th September, 1894, the Local Government Board issued a circular on this subject, and they issued a further circular on the 11th February, 1895. The state of the Merthyr Tydfil Urban District Council area is at the present time a perfectly normal one, except that the collieries owned by the Hill's Plymouth Company, and where 2,000 or 3,000 men are employed, are at a standstill in conse- quence of the employers having given their men notice to determine their contracts. This notice expired on the 1st inst. The contracts have not been determined consequent upon the exhaustion of coal at the collieries, but pending the settlement of a question in regulating wages of, it is eaid. aliOOtion of the men. The work at the collieries would be resumed immediately if the men would return to work upon the conditions stipu- lated for by the management. A committee, consist- ing of the whole of my Council, was held on the 10th inst., and the recommendations, a copy of which accompauiee this letter, were adopted for submission to the Council. A special meeting of the Council will be held on Friday next, the 14th inst., for dealing with the recommendations of the committee, when the Council will be much obliged for any suggestions which the Local Government Board It might be pleased to make upon the Council's position to spend the rates in finding temporary employment 0 for the unemployed men of the Plymouth Collierj. It will be observed that, according to the recommenda- tions of the committee, the Council are asked to approach tho Local Government Board with regard to borrowing money, and as clerk I have thought it light to advise that money can only be borrowed upon the sanction of the Local Got erment Board, and for the purposes of carry on permanent work, and after due formalities have been gone through, such as the acquisition by the Council of land, etc.That after- noon he had received the following telegram in reply to the above communication Re unemployed. Board can express no opinion as to whether sanction to a loan can properly be given until they are informed of the nature of the works which it is proposed to undertake, and have been furnished with plans and detailed estimates and with copy resolution of Council authorising application.In reply to this telegram he had wired to the Local Government Board as follows Under circumstances mentioned in my letter of yesterday are Council justified in giving temporary employment to unemployed ? "-To this telegram no reply had been received. Mr. Dan Thomas took exception to the terms of the clerk's letter to the Local Government Board. The paragraph about the exhaustion of the coal showed bias, and the whole letter was only an attempt at trumping up the case for the Plymouth Company. He understood that the Council were to see this letter before it was sent to London, and he should like to knew why that was not done.—The Clerk, in reply, said that, the matter being urgent, he thought it advisable to forward the letter with as little delay as possible. To submit it to all the members of the Council would have meant the loss of much time. He had therefore asked Mr. Tom Thomas and Mr. John Evans to attend at his office, and help him in the framing of the letter. This they had very kindly done. They had seen the letter, and had been supplied with copies of it. He (the clerk) thought they were quite capable of protecting the interests of the Plymouth men. Mr. D. James asked Mr. Bailey if his company would find work for some of the men out of employ- ment.—Mr. Bailey said they could employ men to do some repairing work.—Mr. T. Thomas And to cut coal as well?—Mr. Bailey No.—Mr. T. Thomas said the men could not accept Mr. Bailey's offer. The offer, in fact, had been made, he thought, to pre- judice the minds of the Council. Mr. W. Lewis was of opinion they had nothing at present to go upon. They did not know whether the Local Government Board would sanction a loan, and until they bad obtained information on that point, they were not in a position to do anything. As to providing work, and paying for it out of the General District Rate, there were many difficulties to be met. That rate had already been overdrawn to the extent of about J61,000, and if they went on still further, they would inevitably come into collision with the ratepayers.—Mr. J. Lewis asked if the scheme drawn out by the surveyor bad been sent to the Local Government Board.—The Clerk replied in the nega- tive, as it was the business of the present meeting to consider that scheme.—Mr. Wills said the surveyor's scheme would be useless unless they obtained the sanction of the Local Government Board to raise a loan. The current rate could not be drawn upon.- The Chairman said Mr. W. Lewis opposed anything and everything unless Treharri3 derived some benefit therefrom.—Mr. W. Lewis retorted that the chairman should be very careful in his utterances, and should not indulge in personalities. It was then decided to hear the scheme prepared by the surveyor. — Mr. Harvey said there were several roads that needed improvements. They were the following :—Road from Penrheol to Clwydyfasrwyr; from Gellifaelo? to Bryniau from Goitre to Pontsarn from Twvny- rodyn to C" mbargoed; Gwaunfarren to Gellifaelog the road leading past Cwm Pit; a road at Pengarddu; from Penydarren to Mountain Hare; and mountain roads generally. These would provide work for about 195 men, but he could not srive any definite idea as to the probable expense.—Mr. John Evans mentioned the road from Fairview-terrace towards the Dowlais Incline, and Mr. T. Thomas referred to the road leading from the Swansea-road to Ponty- capel Brewery. —Mr. J. Lewis said be had called on Mr. Thomas Williams, J.P., with reference to the road leading from Gwaunfarren to Gellifaelog. Mr. Williams had expressed his willingness to do every- thing he could to help the Council in this matter. He (Mr. Lewis) had also seen Mr. John Vaughan, solicitor, in his capacity as agent for Colonel Morgan, another owner interested in the road. The Colonel was communicated with, and intimated his intention to come over to Merthyr on the following Monday. In answer to the chairman, Mr. J. Evans said he had a list of 315 men who were in very necessitous circumstances. The names had been sent to him from men in the various districts.—Mr. Bailey thought the only proper person to give a list of people in distress was the relieving officer.-This view was dissented fiom by the members generally.—Mr. Bailey said if they gave relief to people other than those certified to be in need of relief by the relieving officer, they might get into a difficulty with the auditor.—Mr. Dan Thomas argued that the Council was not respon- sible to the auditor for the way in which it spent money, but only for the way in which the accounts were kept. They were responsible only to the rate- payers as to the objects towards which they devoted public money.—Mr. T. Thomas took the same view, and strongly opposed anything that would pauperise the men. After further discussion, it was agreed to give the men work on Monday, the clerk to communicate with the owners of the private roads in question, and also with the Court Estate with reference to the piece of land between the Brickworks and Twynyrodyn. The men to be employed in relays, to work nine hours a day, at the rate of 3s. 2d. a day the surveyor to procure a supply of tools. The ques- tion of approaching the contractor of the new water works was also discussed, but the Council resolved itself into a committee to deal with that matter.—In the course of the discussion Mr. T. Thomas com- plained that several resolutions passed by the Council had not been carried out by the surveyor. The sur- veyor, it seemed to him, had taken this work up in a very half-hearted manner, and had not made adequate effort to facilitate the work contemplated by the Council.—Mr. Bailey thought the surveyor had, in the short time at his disposal, got through what seemed to him to be an astonishing amount of work. -The Surveyor said he had done all he possibly could to carry out the wishes of the Council. The Council, it should be remembered, had given him no instruc- tions. All he was to do was to draw out a scheme. That scheme had been drawn out, and was sub- mitted to the Council that evening. He had taken much interest in the work, and bestowed on the scheme a great deal of careful thought. He did not see what more be could have done, or that anything ( more was expected of him, as he had done what the J Council had asked him to do. I Mr. Bailey at this juncture, rising to leave the room, asked the chairman if it was likely that he could give the Council any further information.—The Chairman said they were all no doubt anxious to know whether there was any hope of the dispute being settled.—Mr. Bailey said he had not been approached by the men. Several members Have you approached the men ?—Mr. Bailey explained that the matter had been entrusted to Mr. Jones, Varteg, who had power to settle the dispute on the part of the management. Mr. Jones had not been approaohed, as far as he (Mr. Bailey) knew. SATURDAY'S DOINGS The foregoing statement of Mr. Bailey' produced consternation among the men. Everybody thought that negotiations had been abandoned, and Mr. Bailey's deebmtion that thecompany's representative, Mr. Joncf, Varteg; WM waiting to be approached by the men was a great surprise. On Saturday morning, Mr. David Morgan was in Merthyr at an early hour, and he was quite as much surprised as the local leaders by what Mr. Bailey had said. Mr. John Bvana I"et no time in telegraphing to Mr. Jones, asking him whether or not he was prepared to resume negotiations with Mr. David Morgan, and whether he had full power to arrange the dispute on t>ehalf of the Company. Unfortunately Mr. Jones had left home for Somerset, and consequently no information could be obtained from him at that time. Ultimately it was arranged that Mr. Morgan should seek an inter- view with Mr. Jones on Monday. The men gathered during the day at the Globe Hotel. The leaders were busily occupied in making arrangements with regard to drafting men for the District Council work on Monday. The names of those in direst need of assistance were taken, and the men were arranged in gangs according to locality. On Monday morning a committee of workmen sat at the Globe Hotel for the purpose of recei ring names and distributing tickets to men who were desirous of doing work provided by the Merthyr District Council. Up to Monday al>out 2,000 names had been lganded in. In the morning a large number of men proceeded to Cwmrhydybedd, Dowlais, with severe dfficials of the Council, and commenced the work ofIhaaking a road through that place to the Bryn-road. On Tuesday the workmen's committee again sat at the Globs, but the proceedings were conducted in private. AID FROM EBBW VALE, A mass meeting of the colliers of Ebbw Vale and Sirhowy was held on Monday to receive a deputation of Plymouth men. Mr. W. Cottie presided, and there was a large attendance. The deputation, con- sisting of Mr. William Roberts and Mr. Rhys Davies, having explained the cause of the dispute at Ply- mouth, appealed for support from the colliers of Ebbw Vale. Councillor Thomas Richards, miners' agent, in addressing the meeting said reference had been made to one phase of the question which was of great importance to the whole of the colliers of South Wales and Monmouthshire. If the reports contained in the daily papers were correct, the Coalowneis' Associa- tion bad decided to enforce the "discharge note." One of the speakers had expressed a hope that the representatives on the Sliding-scale would broach the matter at the next meeting. He could assure them that the question would be raised, for it was a dis- tinct violation of the agreement. If they could not effect the withdrawal of the discharge note by means of the Sliding-scale, then it was time that a revolution should instantly take place amongst the colliers throughout South Wales and Monmouthshire. The enforcement of this objectionable method by the owners would have to be strenuously opposed. He counselled the Ebbw Vale colliers to hold themselves in readiness to sacrifice and to suffer if it was found necessary, and to fight this matter to the bitter end. Mr. Richards then dealt with the Ply- mouth dispute. A short discussion ensued, after which it was unanimously decided to vote jB50 out of the funds of the association towards the support of the men locked out. and that the question be placed upon the agenda for the monthly meeting to see what could be done further towards the same object. On Monday night a largely-attended meeting was held at the ante-room of the Temperance Hall for the purpose of taking into consideration the advisabil- ity of giving relief to the children of the men out of work at Plymouth. The meeting was convened by the Merthyr Ministerial Union, and the Rev. W. Francis Jones presided, the Rev. W. Evans acting as secretary. It was unanimously agreed that steps should be taken to relieve the children of the unem- ployed. A general committee was formed, with Aid. David Davies as chairman, Messrs. J. Morgan and H. A. Hooper as joint secretarie-. and Mr. William Harris (who very generously subscribed jBlO towards the fund) as treasurer. A deputation was appointed to wait upon the trustees of the Merthyr and Cefn Starving Children's Fund, to see whether any allowance could be made upon thisoccasien. We understand that enquiries have been made, and that thereappears to be very strong doubt whether any of the funds could be devoted to the purpose suggested. The reputed trustees, we understand, are themselves engaged in investigating the constitution of their trusteeship. A soup kitchen has been opened at Troedyrhiw, where soup is given out every day from twelve to two. A soup kitchea has also been started at Abercanaid. Mr. H. W. Lewis has contributed £ 25 to the Plymouth men's fund. Subscriptions in aid of the families of the un- employed are rolling in. The following amounts have been received — Cyfarthfa, jBlO; Blain& Collieries, P,20 Lower Dyffryn, Mountain Ash, £5 (pending a general collection); £ 1 from Mrs. Bell, Merthyr Vale and the collieries at Dowlais have promised £ 100. On the 13th February, a writ was issued by the High Court in London, by the agents of Messrs. Morgan, Rees, and Bruce, Pontypndd, on behalf of John Davies, described as a collier, and served upon the Hill's Plymouth Company, for damages for alleged wrongful dismissal. We understand that this will be a test case on behalf of a large number of workmen at Plymouth. AT THE COUNCIL YESTERDAY. At the usual meeting of the District Council yester- day, Mr. T. H. Bailey presiding, Mr. Harvey, the surveyor, in the conrse of his usufil report, stated "In pursuance of your orders, I have engaged a number of men at present out of employment at the Plymouth Collieries, for the repair of roads, &c., and I have been in communication with the Cyfarthfa and Dowlais Iron Companies with respect to certain roads which have been at different times brought under the notice of the Sanitary Authority. "-Mr. John Lewis Are the men to be paid to-night ?—Tho Clerk To- morrow morning.—Mr. Wills Is the chairman going tosign«he cheques t—The Clerk: Mr. Davies has agreed to do so, I believe.—Mr. Davies The chairman of the Council has always signed the cheques, I believe. -The Chairman: At the special meeting of the Council I spoke about it, and I said I thought it was better that as I am connected with the matter it is not advisable for me to sign the cheques.—Mr. D. Davies: I propose that the vice-chairman sign the cheques.—Mr. D. W. Jones I thought Mr. Davies would be equal to his promise. At the special meet- ing he was the man who said, "I will sign the cheques." Now he wants to give me that honour —(laughter)—and I do not want it (laughter).— —(laughter)—and I do not want it (laughter).— Mr. J. Lewis I propose that Mr. Dan Thomas and Mr. David Davies sign' them. — Mr. Dan Thomas: I refuse.—Mr. D. Davies I am not prepared to be made a scapegoat of. I am prepared to sign the cheques like anybody else. It Mr. Dan Thomas signs I will do so, because he is the chief agitator in this matter. At the special meeting the chairman asked who was going to sign, and I said I have no objection."—Mr. Wills I think Mr. Davies should sign, because at the special meeting on Monday night, when the question was raised as to the legality of signing the cheques, and the clerk said Sit was illegal, Mr. Davies said "Then I will sign the cheques."—The Chairman: It would place me in a very invidious position indeed to bign cheques to pay money to the Plymouth men.—Mr. Dan Thomas said he would like one little matter cleared up. He found fault at the meeting on Friday night with regard to the letter the clerk addressed to the Local Govern- ment Board. He did so because he was led to believe that the letter was of a partial character. The clerk then said that before he sent the letter to London he submitted it to Mr. John Evans and Mr. Thomas Tbomsis. That statement came as a thunder-clap to him, and he would like to have another denial by the clerk that day. He asked, "Was that letter submitted to Messrs. Evans and Thomas, and did they approve of it?"—Mr. D. Davies: The clerk did say so in their presence, and they did not deny it.—The Clerk said that on the evening of the 12tn February Mr. Thomas Thomas and Mr. John Evans called upon him at his office. He told them that the draft of the letter was then complete. He (Mr. James) read the letter to them. Mr. Thomas suggested a slight alteration in one part of the letter. He inserted the alteration, which appeared in ths copy of the letter now before him, ana in order to satisfy them he read the letter over again from beginning [to end.—Mr. Thomas, looking at Mr. Evans, said That is a very fair statement of the facts as between both parties," and Mr. Evans quite endorsed what Mr. Thomas had said. They then asked him if he could give them a copy of the letter. He (Mr. James) remained at the office for some time, his clerks having gone, and made a copy of the letter, and handed it to them, and they took it away.—Mr. Wills: I am pleased to hear you say that, because several of the workmen interested have mentioned the matter to me. They have said that a very unfair letter was forwarded to the Local Government Board unawares to anybody. It has been said that a letter waa sent to London by the clerk behind the backs of the representatives. I could not believe that such a thing was done, and I told them what the clerk has said now. After that I think it is fair to our clerk, to ourselves, and to the men's representatives, that all facts should come to light, so that there can be no misconception one side or the other.—Mr. D. Davies said he thought the explanation should be made in the presence of Messrs. Thomas and Evans (who were not pre- sent that day). There was a great deal of exaggeration going on, but he heard Mr. Evms ask- ing the clerk about the letter, and Mr. James told him to call at his office. He then asked the clerk whether it would be legal for him to sign the cheques. Not that he feared a great deal, but unfortunately on one occasion some of the members on another board made representa- tion to the auditor about his signing the cheques, and he was surcharged, He did not think it fair that one member should be singled" out to sign cheques, when it was always customary for the chairman or vice- chairman to sign them. Ho asked the clerk whether he would be justified in signing ?--The Clerk said that that matter had been thoroughly considered by the Council. He told them at the outset, when the employment of the Plymouth men for temporary purposes was considered, that the surveyor had made w estimate for the present period, and that the Council had a sufficient number of ordinary workmen, but that it re.itedjwith the Council entirely how many men they would put on. He looked upon the Council as the trustees of the ratepayers, and they were to spend the money raised by the rate* in accordance with the estimate the surveyor had made. It was pointed out that the Council had a number of unem- ployed men in their district, and circulars were read to the effect that the Council could give work to un. employed men. In his opinion those circulars referred to widespread and universal destitution in the district, and not m a case of disagreement between certain men in one colliery and the management in that colliery. The distress in the present instance was partial, and did not affect ths whole of the district. He would point out again that he could see it was questionable whether, when the auditor came round, he would not take exception to the circumstances under which the men were employed. The auditor would see they were spending an abnormal sum of money on labour, and he (the clerk) fully expected that he would surcharge thsrn that was to say that the geutlemanwhosigned the check would have to meke good his position with the Local Government Board. He sent the letter to the Local Government Board in order to obtain from them an expression of opinion, and they only replied with regard to that part which dealt with the loan. He telegraphed to the Board, Under the circumstances mentioned in my letter of yesterday, me the Council justified in giving temporary employment V" and he had received no reply. He had done all he could in the matter, and he would like to put evorybody in a proper position, because there was considerable risk in what they were doing.—Mr. Dan Thomas said the letter to his mind was of an ex-parte character. He still considered the letter was unfair. But he wr-i surprised that the gentlemen named did not make known to himself and others, when they were con- sulted, that they had seen the letter. They led him to believe that they had not seen it.—Mr. John Lewis said he thought they should have submitted to the Local Government Board a scheme showing the work proposed to he carried out.—The Clerk But Mr. Davies said the men would starve in the meantime.— Mr. Harpur I said at the time that we should not put any men to work until we had sanction to doso.— The Clerk said he did not object to any man saying what he pleased about what he had done. If he had bad a fortnight to write the letter referred to he could not have done it better. It was a fact that there was a dispute at one colliery between master and men, and to have said there was widespread destitution would not have been true. He had done what was right and proper, and his statement was a true statement of the fact and nothing else.—Mr. Davies: I think there must be great poverty in the district.—The Clerk This is a dispute with regard to regulating the wages of a section of the men. It is not at Dowlais or Cyfarthfa. —A reference was made with regard to the men being unable to get employment elsewhere, which the clerk said was a great hardship.—Mr. Dan Thomas said he held hi? own opinion, and if he had had anything to do with the letter he would have omitted the para- graph dealing with the dispute. It was favourable to the side of the employers.—Mr. D. W. Jones said it seemed to him they were going quite outside the matter which was of prime importance.and that was, who was going to pay these poor men who had been employed by the Council. It seemed that Mv. Davies hesitated to sign the cheques, although, when he (Mr. Jones) was in the chair, Mr. Davies did say that he would sign any cheque for the purpose of paying the men. If Mr. Davies still declined to sign, he (Mr. Jones) felt it was his duty to the men whom they had employed to let them know that the Council could not pay them, or find some provision in order that they should be p_aid.—Mr. Davies: You sign.— Mr. Jones: You advise me to sign then. I tun quite prepared to put my hand into my pocket if necessary. —The Clerk: We shall be putting on another set of mon to-morrow, and we "hall require another set of cheques signed on Friday.—Mr. Jlarpur: I think we had better stop the work until we know where we are.—Mr. John Lewis: You are only trying to threaten us. We have passed a resolution, and why dispute that more than any other resolution ?—Mr. Dan Thomas: In order to he on the right side, I move a proposition that Mr. Davies be authorised to sign the and that the fact be recorded on the minutes. — Mr. John Lewis seconded, and it was carried.—It was said that complaint had been made to the effect that tho Counoil had not employed enough men.—Mr. Dan Thomas 3aid he was told that young men were put on the work who elbowed out men who had families. He trusted Mr. Harvey would have regard to older men with families in making his selection.—Mr. Harvey That point has been brought to my notice.—Mr. Dan Thomas asked the clerk what kind of work the Board of Guardians could give the men without their being regarded as paupers. He went through the workhouse that day and saw a large number of sleepers, and there was no firewood in stock. The Clerk They can have any work with- out being paui>ers.—Mr. W. Lewis asked if the men could not have been employed on the Penydarren- road or the new water works.—He received a reply in the negative. A MISLEADING RUMOUR. At the conclusion of yesterday's Council meeting (jur reporter saw Mr. G. C. James and informed him of the rumour in circulation that hp, as solicitor to the Hill's Plymouth Company, had sent a private letter to the Local Government Board with regard to the Plymouth men out of work and their employment by the Council. Asked whether there was any truth in the rumour Mr. James replied, "It is absolutely untrue. The whole thing is a falsehood."




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