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IMPERIAL PARLIAMENT,

TO CORRESPONDENTS.

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©LAMO rgaujSHtre.

NEW NOTIONS-MAGISTERIAL LAW…

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NEW NOTIONS-MAGISTERIAL LAW OF WAGES. (From the Mining Journal,) A statement, forwarded to us by a Swansea cor- respondent, to which we should not readily have given credence but from our knowledge of the party, will, we think, give to our readers a strange notion of the Swansea magistracy, and their ideas of business. We have deemed the matter of sufficient importance to give it a place in our columns, inasmuch, that if Swansea law were generally applicable, it would behove all those interested in mines and manufactures to be extremely cautious in the engagements they may make and tho men they employ but as we have every reason to believe that in the Vice-Warden's Court of Cornwall, and indeed every court of common sense in the United Kingdom, a different decision would have been arrived at, we trust that an expose of the way in which tilings are done in Swansea will have the desired effect of showing to gentlemen (who can hardly be expected to combine with their clerical duties a knowledge of business) that awards of the nature such as have been brought under our notice, cannot be passed over without observation. From the evidence adduced, upon a claim for arretirs of wages, before the bench of magistrates at Swansea, on Tuesday, the 12til instant, Dr. Hewson presiding, it appeared that about the month of August last several men were employed as mechanics and labourers on some works in the course of erection in the vicinity of that town; that amongst others was the plaintiff, who was engaged at the rate of 2s. per diem, and who accordingly worked at that rate, being paid weekly; on which occasions a "docket," or paper, expressing the number of days he had worked, and the rate per diem, with the total earnings for the week, was given. During the period that he was so employed, and after the lapse of nearly three months, the plaintiff joined a party who had entered into a contract for quarrying stones, by whom lie was paid 2s. 6d, a day during the time such contract existed; that subsequently he re- sumed his occupation as a common labourer on the works, and was paid regularly each week, according to the number of days he had worked, at the rate of '2s. per diem; and in" this manner receiving his pay- ments weekly, he continued in employ until the end of February, when he was discharged. During the whole of this period, the plaintiff ac- knowledged that he had never claimed anything be- yond the amount paid him weekly; and that, on his being discharged, he had never made any application for any balance or arrears of wages, which, before the magistrates, he stated to be due to him and thus months elapsed without the complainant (a labourer at 2s. per day) ever mentioning to any person that he received short of his regular pay, the first intimation of any claim existing being a summons to appear before the bench of magistrates. The otdy evidence, and that of a conflicting nature, as to the precise words used in support of the claim, was, that in a looge conversation as to further employ, between the manager of the works and one of the parties with whom the plaintiff had joined under the contract referred to, the manager had statedtliat, as soon as the bargain was up, he would find work for them as firemen (i. e. to attend the furnaces),for which they would receive 2s. 6d. per day and this was stated by the witness to be "for all the winter." However, it appears that the parties were not required for that work, and they were accordingly either set to other labour or dis- charged. On behalf of the defendant, the pay-book was pro- duced, which, however, the reverend chairman would not receive as evidence. Evidence was, however, given, that on a late occasion, upon the payment of the week's earnings to the plaintiff, he was called by name, the contents of the paper or docket read over to him, that he admitted it was right, and accordingly received, as usual, his wages, at the rate of 2s. per day; that lie had since visited the works, had made no complaint, but wished for further employ, requiring, however an advance to his wages, or 15s. a week, which was not acceded to, and hence the present pro- ceedings. Dr. Hewson, who, throughout the hearing of the case, evinced a bias which magistrates, however they may feel, should be careful not too openly to express, stated his conviction that the contract was made out, that the plaintiff was entitled to recover after the rate of 61. per day for the past months which had been withheld from him; that the pay-list or dockets given could not be received as evidence; that his ad. mission, on receiving his money with the docket, that "all was right," was not to be construed as meaning that the amount per diem was right, but merely the sum received as in part; that the absence of any in- stance of money being held back from the workmen was not to be taken into consideration in this case; that it was equitable the plaintiff should receive 2s. 6d. a day, although the rate paid to all others was only 2s.; and summed up by ordering the payment of the difference. Thus, then, it would appear, that a daily labourer, after being employed six or seven months, and settled with regularly every week, may, after being dis- charged, summons his employer for an additional rate of wages; and, with magistrates such as Swansea may boast, he will be sure to have a verdict in his favour. from which there is no appeal. And here we would make one remark, which may not be considered as in- applicable generally in cases where magistrates are called on to determine upon questions like the present The employment of miners or labourers, whether paid at the expiration of the week or iiioiitl'i, -ire ever considered (except in cases of contract woik) to be engaged by the day, and accordingly when pay day arrives the number of stents," siiifls, ()I- (I;tvs' libotir, during the period which has elapsed since the preced- ing pnv, are calculated, and the amount p"id, thus settling the past, and a fresh engagement may be considered to he entered into for the future. The de- livery of dockets (being an account of the earnings and deductions, if any) to the workmen should be viewed in the light of an acquittance, if no objection be raised within a reasonable time. But in the prú- sent case many months are allowed to pass by—no application made, no objection raised, the man con- tentedly receives his weekly pay, until being dis- charged he ventures on an appeal to the magistrates, having, as it appears by the sequel, well judged his "worthy and approved good masters," and a decree is accordingly made, to the effect, that the non-payment of his claim was to be considered as a "reserve," that the works were in fact a "savings bank;" and we only wonder the decree did not include iiitci-et, It and after the rate of 3 per cent, for the use of the money. We could say much more, but have endeavoured to condense as far as was practieablc tlw statement of our correspondent,omitting those details which, however important for the consideration of those locally inte- rested, do not bear on the main question at issue.

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