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Cymmer Miners and Agents. --+-- District Meeting Disapproves of Vote of Censure. A meeting of the Rhondda No. 1 Dis- trict of Miners was held at Porth on Saturday, when the charges made by the Cymmer workmen against Messrs. Watts Morgan and Tom Evans were the subject of an exhaustive enquiry. The charges, it will be remembered, were three in number —(1) That the agents had demanded and coerced the men at Cymmer to return to work, espe- cially those- working in the new seam, by urging them to adopt the Trehafod price list in order to prevent a stoppage of work; (2) That Mr. Watts Morgan had been responsible for making a statement at a meeting that, in any cases of dispute where the men were unable to get their full wages paid by the colliery company, he (Mr. Morgan) would be responsible for making their wages up, and obtain money from somewhere to make it up to 7s. 8d. per day; and (3) That Mr. Morgan had declared to a deputation of the Cymmer Lodge that he had absolutely no sympathy with men who were out of work. So serious were the issues raised, that Mr. Morgan intimated at the outset that he had placed his resignation in the hands of the District Committee pending the decision of the meeting whether he retained the confidence of the district or not. The trouble was over arbitration pro- ceedings for the fixing of a price list at the colliery, and Mr. Morgan had there- fore invited one of the arbitrators, Mr. Vernon Hartshorn, Maesteg, to attend the conference, together with special repre- sentatives from other lodges who had knowledge of the circumstances. The deputation from Cymmer to formulate the charges to the district meeting was headed by Mr. John Hughes, and they submitted the evidence which occasioned the vote of censure. Mr. Watts Morgan reviewed the whole of the price list arbitration proceedings from May, 1906, until January, 1909, and of the acceptance by the men of the con- ditions laid down by the management of the colliery as a preliminary to the con- tinuance of work. He detailed his efforts in getting the price list settled, and emphasised that the Cymmer deputation now admitted that the resolution to con- tinue working was passed before he made any reference to the matter of the colliery company making up the wages of the men working in bad places. That in itself proved that he had not coerced the men. What he did say was that he could pro- mise to give supplemental pay in addi- tion to the strike relief to those men working in bad places to whom the col- liery company did not grant sufficient allowance. A number of the workmen at Cymmer left the colliery of their own accord, because they had been promised work elsewhere, and he did admit saying he had no sympathy with these men who had run away from the fight that their comrades were waging at Cymmer. When these men referred to failed to get work at other collieries, they then applied for financial assistance from the funds, aj> they urged that they had been victimised because of their failure to get employ-' ment elsewhere. On the facts placed before him he did not think they were entitled to financial aid. Mr. Vernon Hartshorn dealt minutely with the arbitration proceedings empha- sising that the Cymmer deputation had every opportunity of placing their case before the arbitrators, and acknowledged the great assistance rendered by Mi". Morgan in presenting the case for the' men. Mr. Tom Evans, who was accused as all assenting party to Mr. Morgan's policy, also replied. Several lodge delegates expressed strong indignation at the action of the Cymmer workmen towards the agents. A resolution was unanimously adopted- expressing the fullest confidence in the action adopted by the agents in the matters complained of, and calling upon the Cymmer workmen to remove their vote of censure. It was also pointed out that the Cymmer workmen had acted contrary to the standing orders of the district by passing such a resolution, as all complaints in relation to the agents were to be formulated and forwarded to* the district meeting for investigation. Prior to the above inquiry, the question of whether certain workmen who left the Cymmer Colliery and failed to secure employment elsewhere were entitled to victimisation pay was discussed. Mr. Watts Morgan had decided against the claim, and after hearing the evidence the meeting unanimously decided to uphold the action of the agent, unless some addi- tionaLfacts could be adduced for the claimants. At a special meeting of the Rhondda Miners on Friday, it was decided to approve of the out-of-work scheme, and a. suggestion was made that the coalfield should be ballotted on the question. Messrs. Watts Morgan, Tom Evans, W. H. Morgan, T. Harries and T. George were unanimously re-elected on the- Executive Committee.
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The Out-of-Work Fund, Mass Meeting at Porth Speeches by Messrs. Watts Morgan, Ben Davies & Tom Evans On Wednesday evening, at Salem Chapel, Porth, Mr. John Hughes (check- weigher) presided over a representative meeting of the workmen of the district. The meeting was held with a view of ascertaining; the feeling of the members of the. Federation towards providing an out-of-work scheme, whereby men would be able to obtain support when out of work through colliery explosions, owners' liquidation, lock-outs, &c., and which scheme would be incorporated into the rules of the present organisation. After a brief address by the Chairman, Mr. Ben Davies (miners' agent) addressed the meeting. He expressed his apprecia- tion of the opportunity afforded him of addressing them on this important ques- tion. He was sorry the day was not an opportune one, inasmuch as there were counter attractions in the district, it being St. Patrick's Day; and the Territorials were also holding a meeting at Porth. He feared, however, that before the end of June these people would be prepared to listen more anxiously to the particular business which affected them more directly. They had thought—and were led to believe so by the employers!— that the clause for a minimum wage was settled. They had practically agreed upon this question. But the employers had gone back upon their word, and now w anted to terminate all existing contracts and rearrange all their prices. Judging by the present actions of the owners, they were quite justified in saying that it was time that extremities should be resorted to. The employers were endeavouring: to force prices upon men which would not give them a living wage. Was it fair to have machines to cut coal, and ask skilful miners to fill it for lO-i-d. a ton? (Cries of No "). It was absolutely absurd, and manifestly unfair. When they first approached the masters upon the ques- tion of a clause for a minimum wage in abnormal places, the answer was directly in the negative, and that very emphatic- ally. The prevailing conditions under which men worked were deplorable, and demanded a living wage. There were dozens of men at the Standard Colliery working for 2s. 6td. per day (" Shame "). Was this a living wage for any man, with- out taking consideration of his family? No Then it is to avert this iniquitous system that we wish to incorporate the out-of-work scheme into oar organisation," continued the speaker. Ours is the only Federation in Great Britain which has not got this provision incorporated into its rules. The other organisations pay 2s. a month contributions, yet some of them do not pay anything like the amount of money we pay out to meet our contin- gencies." The best and only remedy to prevent strikes, and also to finance the funds, was by drafting an out-of-work scheme to meet these emergencies. The best way to prevent war was by preparing for war. and this method had proved the safety of the other Federations to a, very large extent. Had they been properly organised in 1898, there never would have been such a lamentable crisis. But to have struck when in such a disorganised state and held out nearly six months was a fitting example of the determination of the South Wales miners. Thousands of men were on the road through no fault of their own, and if they had but made a provision similar to the scheme they now advocated, these men would be amply provided for. Mr. Davies concluded with an earnest appeal to the loyalty of the men to give the scheme a full considera- tion. Mr. D. Watts Morgan followed, and in a brilliant speech, which could not fail to awaken the interest and capture the sympathies of the audience, he outlined in Welsh, and afterwards in English, the whole scheme. A large number of men, he said, were out of work through no fault of their own; thus was the con- clusion forcibly thrust upon them that some measures must be taken in order that these and other men should be adequately, supported. If the present new scheme" was not acceptable, they were bound to make other provisions whereby these men would obtain the help they sorely needed when in such predica- ments. The expenses incurred by the Federation in fighting cases, &c., ren- dered it absolutely essential that they should raise funds through some channel or other'. The speaker referred to-sonie owners who had close^ down their col- lieries and had invited the workmen to inspect their books to see for themselves that the expenses were too heavy to allow of these collieries being worked at the present rate of wages. These pro- prietors and all owners of lower grade collieries have ouir sympathy," exclaimed Mr. Morgan, but we cannot for all that allow a reduction of wages. Far better for these collieries to be closed down for a season than they should be subservient to a, reduction of wages." It was apologetically said that some of the men did not want work; that they were habitual loafers. It was not for the men to say these things, said Mr. Morgan, as the employers were too fond of depriving men of work, and that upon the slightest pretext (hear, hear). He did not believe in, or see why men should be forced into such difficulties. Under the out-of-work scheme, men would be in a position to go to the secretary of the lodge and say, "Look here, I have been out of work for so long a time, and I want some pay," and he would get it (hear, hear). Speaking of the recent Aberaman crisis, the Agent said: youi know these men received notices—nearly 2,000 of them. This matter was discussed at the confer- ence at Cardiff, and while extreme measures on our part were not resorted to, yet a subsequent meeting of the Con- ciliation Board terminated the drastic policy of the Powell Duffryn, and the men were allowed to resume their work. What was the reason of their changed attitude ? Probably this. You will remember at the beginning of the year a case was fought before his Honour Judge Bryn Roberts at the County Court, and during the hearing of this case his Honour said that money for abnormal places was purely gratuitous; that the men had no legal claim for anything. Such a thing had not been heard of before," continued Mr. Morgan ("Shame"). "Why did they agree to appoint a separate committee to discuss this question ? If an agreement had been obtained, then these men would have had restored to them the right which, in their opinion, Judge Bryn Roberts had taken away. On the 31st of October, the employers made a proposal, which was accepted with but a few exceptions; They agreed to make up the men's wages in part when working in abnormal places. They wanted to establish a con. rate which was as low as 3s. 6d. and 3s. 8d. They were willing to pay the standard day's wage paid at each colliery respec- tively. But what we want," exclaimed the speaker, with firmness. is an agree- ment similar to that we obtained for the hauliers; a fixed standard wage, so that there would be a uniform wage through- out the entire coalfield (hear, hear). Referring' to the Eight Hours question, he hoped that the masters would yet see
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the folly of causing an embroilment in the coalfield by attempting: to frustrate its operation. They were only being asked to give what had been conceded by Act of Parliament. Ever since! 1868 the men had asked for less hours, but up to the present they had not had the reduction. It would make no material difference to the employers, if they only provided the necessary requisites for the men at, hand, thereby causing no delay (hear, hear). He had no doubt that if these things were provided—rails, timber, &c.—that the output could be increased. Until the masters had given the eight hours a fair trial, they were in no way justified in raising opposition, to its operation; and even if the cost were increased, they could well afford it. The Cambrian, last year, had made a profit of £ 190,000. What profit did the colliers get? Only their ordinary day's wage ("Shame")- While these thing,g were going on, the only remedy was for them to unite together in one bond and fight them to the bitter end (cheers). Mr. Tom Evans concurred in all that had been said by Messrs. Morgan and Davies on the clause for abnormal places, and in concluding a fine peroration said that they wanted a uniform rate for all men if performing the same work. We may not be able to get this and other much-needed reforms without a struggle," said the speaker, but if we are to fight for them, it ought to be a general fight and not sectional. We do not believe in a fight in South Wales., and allow England and Scotland to supply, the markets with coal, and make huge fortunes for the em- ployers in those places at the same time. No, if we have to fight, we must bring 9 the 20th rule into operation and refuse to produce coal through the whole, of Great Britain" (hear, hear). "If we do this, the struggle will be short, sharp and decisive, and we shall have the consolation then of not having accepted peace at any price, but peace with honour, giving the wage earners a more equitable share of the wealth they produce" (cheers). Numerous questions were submitted to the agents, which were answered to the entire satisfaction of all. A proposition in favour of the out-of-work fund was then moved by Mr. Luxton, and seconded by Alderman Morgan Williams, and car- ried unanimously. A vote of thanks to the speakers ter- minated the meeting.