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THE PENRHYN QUARRY DISPUTE.

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THE PENRHYN QUARRY DISPUTE. Mr Clement Edwards writes as follows to the "Daily News" — The conflict at the Penrhyn Quarries has now beeii proceeding for more than three months, and fhe prospect of peace appears more remote than ever. From time to time I have dealt with the individual ques- tions at issue. It is well now to bring these questions to a focus, and see precisely the line of cleavage dividing employer and em- ployed. This can best be done by summait- ising the results of the Conference. The men's deputation asked for 1. The right freely to elect spokesmen from the ranks of the men in the quarry to discuss grievances with the management from time to time. 2. The right of the men during the din- ner hour to discuss matters among thiCm- selv in the quarry. 3. The reinstatement of certain victi- mised leaders. 4. The establishment of a minimum wage. 5. The punishment of unjustifiable con- duct on the part of foremen and officials tc- wards the men. 6. The introduction, experimentally, of a system of co-operative piecework in place of work hitherto done under contract. 7. The humanising of the harsh rules of discipline, and the reduction of the punish- ments for breaches of them. 8. The re-introduction of the aoinual holiday on the 1st of May. 9. More democratic control of the Quarry Sick Club. Let us see what Lord Penrhyn's manager did in regard to thisi list of grievances. He promised to tinquire into the working of the i r, sick club. He undertook to consider the re-introduction of the annual holiday. With regard to the rules of discipline, 1 c undertook to reduce the penalty for com- ing taite, sin the case of .reasonable excuse given, and gave a general promise of other modifications after the men should resume work. And upon No. 5, he promised to deal severely with any proved cases of un- justifiable conduct. These were the whcae of the concessions, tangible or intangible, which he was prepared to make. Upon all the other points he was rigid in his refusal to modify or concede. The effect of the discussion was therefore to leave practically every one of the men's grievances unremedied, and not only un- remedied, but with a refusal to remedy them in the future. And no one, except perhaps" Mr Young, was in the least bit sur- prised when tlie men contemptuousily re- fused to resume work upon such conditions. The refusal of the Penrhyn management to make any real concession effectively seems to show the spirit of administration at Bethesda. Not to mince words, my only frank view is that that spirit is entirely responsible for all the present trouble. The ma,nagement seems to me to,apply just or- dinary rules of book-keeping to the con- duct of the Quarry, without the smallest regard for the human side. The sentiments, the feelings, the rights, even the manhood of the men are ignored. That great com- munity of near three thousand men, born in an atmosphere of freedom, breathing r. deep spirit of religion, keenly sensitive of right and wrong, and standing above the industrial average for character and mora- lity, are treated as so many inanimate dig- gers of stone and getters of slate. Every industrial dispute is a tragedy made up cf an infinite number of smaller tragedies, but no dispute of modern times has impressed me so strongly for its intense tragedy as this conflict. It is all so needless and so cruel. One hour's wise handling of the questions at issue, based upon an "Under- standing of these men, should straightway bring peace to these hillsides. But this is unlikely, for the mail1.agement lacks know- ledge of men, and has not sufficient imagi- nation to appreciate the springs and motives which move and animate this won- derful industrial community of deeply re- ligious home-loving men, who have toiled here from generation to generation since the days when Shakespeare moved among living men. I went down to Bethesda as ,itii unbiassed outsider to make impartial investigations. I had no pre-oonceived notions about the rights and wrongs of the conflict. I reserved criticism until every- thing had been done that could be done to bring about peace and concord. But very few days of inquiry served to show me how hopelessly out of touch was the manage- ment with the men. Irritating grievances of long accumuilation that struck me as palpable were airily laughed at as non-exis- tent. That men should be moved by sen- timent, or should have ideas outside the scope of the pay-sheet, appeared to be quite an interesting phenomenon, fit sub- ject for mirth, but scarcely such as a hard- headed business man could take cognisance of. Grievances were "silly sentiment," "rubbish," or a "parcel of childish nonsense. And in this mental attitude towards the men one can easily trace the source of all the friction and trouble and rebellion of recent days. With such an attitude also it is easiily understood why no concessions should be made, for if you do not think a, grievance really exists, you can scarcely undertake to remove it. But as to the genuineness of the men's grievances, I.have no manner of doubt. To have leader after leader discharged upon the trivial1 pretence that they have com- mitted a technical breach of discipline (for which other men are not discharged) is a genuine grievance. To be denied the right of freely using their own dinner hour ior discussion is ai genuine grievance. To be refused any m-odifioatiioii of the objection- able sub-contract or sweating system, when such a system works harshly, and when the men have been led to understand that such a modification would experimenta-My be tried, constitutes ai genuine grievance. All these grievances, however, are of comparatively mrinor importance by the side of the question of the right of delega- tion. This is the great issue in the con- flict. The men ask for the right to appoint their own spokesmen in their own way. The management deny this right, and insist upon vexatious restrictions. The attitude of the management belongs to the begin- ning of the last century. The men are not asking to have their union recognised. They are not asking to elect,a delegate from men outside the employment of Lord Penrhyn. But within that employment they ask for absolute liberty of election. In my opin- ion, their cla.,im is a perfectly reasonable one. Lord Penrhyn appears by a spokes-. man of his own free selection. The men have an equal right to do the same. They are asking for nothing to which public opinion has not given fullest sanction. In fact, they are asking for a good deal less. It seems, therefore, to me that on grounds of public poiify IW men in the suu<r.gu.« that is before them aro entitled to the cordial' sympathy of all who hare :1YY regard for the elementary right of tree representation. APPEAL BY THE COMMITTER. Th* Relief' Committee have issued a cir- ooiar appealing for assistance on behalf cf the old men, widows, and orphans who, tiey state, are already suffering great hard- ship- in consequence of the leck-out. inc circular states that the signatories, who are on the spot, and are sufferers themselves, know full well the justice of the men's c.. use: The circular proceeds: -"Thp- cir- cumstances of the strike of 1896-7 for Be- curing the right of combination are so ia- ln.-iiar to all that we need not enter into them. Lord Penrhyn claims that he has provided for the proper representation of grievances but as the management will cnlv consider complaints that are person- ally made by the aggrieved, it is obvious that compliant* became marked men, ar.Q trifling faults can afterwaaxis be mad4 the cause of their dismissal. Th,^ fact is clear to us all here, and there is no doubt in the minds of anyone in the district that five men who took an active part in that movement have been dismissed from the quarry without any reason whatever being given for their dismissal, and the reasons have been refused to those cf the men who asked for them. i. appears to us tnat the men are deternunea now to remain c'u: till these men are reinstated, and their just rights are granted them; and we, with confidence, appeal to the public ge nerally for support to ena ,!e them to secure these things." xiie circular is signed, on behalf of the Relief Committee, by Messrs W. J. Parry, chairman; G. Ro- berts, J.P., vice-chairman; Daniel Lloyd, treasurer; and' the R-e-v. W. W. Lloyd, general secretary. A CIRCULAR FROM MR YOUNG. is stated that nearly 1000 men have made written application to the manage- ment of the. Penrhyn Quarries to be al- lowed! to resume work, provided they are t assured of protection. To these men Mr 1' Young, Lord Penrhyn's agent, has sent the subjoined circular: — I:> I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, and glad you have written, thus giving me an opportunity of communi- cating directly with you and your fellow- workmen on subjects which are of import- ance to all who were lately employed at the Penrhyn Quarry. I have recently been in communication with other men who are also anxious to return to work, and it has >. vv oecn made clear to me that many of the late employees dislike the proposed sys- tem of fines' for being late or for other breaches of rules. This question has again heen leferred1 to Lord Penrhyn, who has no more desire for the introduction of 'fines' than I have which would not have been thought of had, I not been previously led to- believe that such a form of punishment wculd be preferred by the men. There will therefore in future be (instead of 'fines') a system of suspension (from a quarter of a day upward', according to the merits of each case). For instance, the punishment for being late, not over 15 minutes, a first time would be a 'caution;' the second cffer-ce, a quarter of a day's suspension; the third offence, half a day's suspension; but persistent offenders would be more seriously punished or dismissed. As soon as enough men have sent me their names with addresses, ,and late quarry number, applying for work, you shall hear from me again. For your guidance I enclose here- with copies of the rules relating to the re- piesentation of any grievance, and also a new rule about discipline." There is much speculation in the district as to the results which may follow. There ca.n be no doubt that in agreeing to abolish the system of fines MrYoung has made a substantial concession. If the statement that close upon 1000 men have sent in written applications to be allowed to re- sume work is correct, there is a possibility of an early settlement of the dispute. y The Gwyrfai District Council and the Electric Light Question. At a meeting of the Council held at Car- narvon on Saturday a letter was read from Mr Peterson, solicitor, who represents a London syndicate, stating that he was pleased to understand that the Council had taken a reasonable view of his actions in regard to the electric lighting order. He assured them that he would not prove un- worthy of the trust reposed in him by the Council. As to the suggestion that there should be inserted in the order an under- taking that the work would be commenced within three years from the date the order would come into force he referred the Council to section 21 of the Electric Light- ing Act, 1899, which provided that the work must be commenced within two years from the date on which the order is signed.—Dr Fraser (Medical Officer of Health) wrote stating that there was little if any evidence that any person in the district had been poisoned by drinking beer which might have contained arsenic, and therefore he did not think it was necessary to send samples to be analysed.

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I The R.S.P.C.A. in Anglesey…

Carnarvon County Court.