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IN PABLIAMJGST.—Hsssios 1889.'





Family Notices





-----_------------A NEW DRY…





MINERS IN CONFERENCE, IMPORTANT MEETING AT ABERDARE. UNANIMOUS DEMAND FOR AN ADVANCE IN WAGES. THE SLIDING SCALE SEVERELY CRITICISED. [FROM OUR PONTYPRIDD REPORTER. I A general meeting of delegates representing all the house and steam coal workmen of South Wales and Monmouthshire was held on Monday at the Bute Arms, Aberdare. There was an unusually large attendance. When the roll was called it was found that there were 118 delegates present, representing 47,284 workmen. The questions to be decided were (1) the advisability of asking for a further advance in wages; and (2) to consider the eight hours' system. Mr John Williams, Clydach Vale, was elected to the chair, the vice- ohair being assigned to Mr Alfred Onions, Cross Keys, Monmouthsbire. Mr John Lewis acted as secretary. There were also in attendance Messrs W. Abraham, M.P. (Mabon). D. Morgan, Aber- dare Isaac Evans, Neath Philip Jones, Aber- tillery; M. Weeks, Pontypridd; Walters, Monmouth, and others. Th& CHAIRMAN, in his opening address, con- gratulated the meeting upon the greatly improved prospects of the coal trade. In the past their cir- cumstances as workmen had been so low that they were hardly able to keep body and soal together; but looking at the present trade, he thought he could exclaim, "Good times are coming"—(bear, hear)—and be hoped and trusted that they would unite together to take firm and wise measures to demand their rights. In past years the supply of coal had been con- siderably in excess of the demand, but to-day things were reversed, and the demand was equal to the supply, One president of the Manchester Geological Society, in his opening speech on Tuesday, the 6th inst., declared that the produce of coal during the last 30 years had increased by about 3ijt per cent., and that taught them that it was their duty- be was glad to find that they were taking steps In that direction-to reduce the hours of labour so that they could also reduce the supply of coal In the market. (Hear, hear.) He bad in his possession figures showing the progressive increase in the produce of coal during the last 30 years. In 1857 they produced in the United Kingdom 65 rinihrm tons; 1866, 10J million tons; 1876, 133 million tons; 1886, 157 million tons. He believed, however, that be would not be wrong if he ventured the assertion that this increase had reached its highest point. Comparing the produce of coal iu 1882 with the produce of 1887, they found that there was a decrease of nearly two million tons but although there was this decrease taking the whole of the kingdom, still, double the quantity shipped in 1882 was shipped at Cardiff in 1887. This proved that the quality of coal in their district was vastly superior to that produced in other parts of the country. (Hear, bear.) The price of coal, also, in South Wales and Monmouthshire was higher than III any other part of the kingdom. Taking South Lancashire as representing the average price in coal-producing districts outside Wales, they would find that in South Lancashire the price of coal at the pit's mouth for the week ending November 10th was 10s 6d, 8 6d, and 9* second best, 7s and 7s 61. Now, the report of the Cardiff trade, for the week ending November 9!;h was as follows :— isteain coal has undergone a further advance even now buyers experience considerable-difficulty in getting their orders placea for prompt delivery. One contract for 20,000 tons has been booked at lis 4d p jr ton, after several other large contracts bad been closed at lis. There were some classes of coal to-day which could not be obtained at less than 13s, but this does not represent the market price, as these firms have practically no coal to sell, .so well are they supplied with forward orders. The actual selling ptice to-day lor best qualities was 11s 6d to 12s for good dry coias, 10s 6d t ) lis and for best Monmouthshire, 10s and upwards. Hmail steam w&s iii very good. dcrDcUid fit 5s io 5s 3d. These were the prices in Cardiff for the week endiug November lOolt, but he was ready, if necessary, to show that the same prices were maintained during the week ending November 17tb, so that he believed they could look forward to a bright future, and would be justified in taking wise but firm measures to demaud the rights which were due to them. (Cheers.) On the motion of Mr ISAAC EVANS, Neath, a hearty vote of thanks was accorded to the chairman for his address. The CHAIRMAN said that the next business was to consider the appeal from the various districts to ask our employers for a further advance in the present wages rate." It was an important subject, requiring careful and serious consideration, And one which, he believed, ought to have been taken up long ago. (Hear, hoar.) The next speaker, a DKJL £ GATE from the Blaen- avon district, said that fchey claimed an advance, not as a favour, but as a right. Ho held that the sliding scalewhich now regulated their wages did no:, advance on a rate equivalent to the increase in the price of coal. Taking the agree- ment as it stb'id, it was evident that they were paid ou a bA"iW, 1, of one-sixth of the price of the ton of coal, but when the price of coal increased it did not go up at that ratio. J66 represented 15 tons of coal at 8s per ton. The workman got 21 out of the;26, but when the price increased the workman got only 1'l on every Ii', so that when the 15 tons realised £ 12, the workman only got 60 par cent. The cost of production did not doubus when the price of coal increased, neither was there a large cast of wear and tear, so that the scale, therefore, ought to give them 2d on every Is. He did not complain of the basis of the scale except in so tar as the percentages were not high enough. A DELEGATK from the Rhondda Valley said that they were all bound to admit that the sliding scaie Was not the most effective system to give them the wages they were fairly entitled to. (Hear, hear.) Mr Abraham, M.P., in an able speech delivered at Ton, Ystrad, had quoted figures comparing their condition with that of miners in Yorkshire, Durham, aud Northumber- land, and he (the spaakec) would not dispute the figures quoted by the hon. member. His contention rather was that the basis of their scale was too low to start. In Yorkshire miners earned 4..1 8d par day of eight hours, while the average in South Wales was only 3s 4,1 per day of 9 hours. In other words, it the Yorkshire miners worked the same number of hours as they did in South Wales their daily wage would be 6-t. The question for them to decide was whether it would be w;se in them to adhere again to the sliding-scale, which enabled the masters to sell under contracts for 10, 6d per ton the beat coal which in open market realised 13s, and so deprive the workman of what was due to him. It was not right to say that they were going to break through the scarle and all organization. Experience bad taught them that the scale as at present constituted was injurious, and the masters themselves had already broken it. What about the Ocean men? Would they have had the recent advance of 5 per cent. if they depended on their scale? And in Ferndale, too, the masters granted 5 per ceut. advance while the scale did not justify it. The truth was that the scale was rotten to the core. (Hear, hear.) A house coal delegate said that if the huuse coal men had had their way the scale would have been swept away a year ago. He was glad to find that the steam coal men were at last awake, and, being awake, let them insist upon their rights, and not allow themselves to be sent asleep by a paltry advance of five per cent. (Cheers.) Mr ISAAC EVANS, Neath, having given the report of the sliding scale committee, gave it as hid opinion that this was an opportune time to appeal to the masters to agree to a revision of the sliding scale basis. (Hoar, hear.) He could not agree with those who maintained that long contracts cut both ways—that is, that they benefitted both masters and men if made when prices were high, and subsequently be decreased. His experience was that wages were not kept up by these long contracts, that wages rather followed the price of coal rapidly enough when decreasing, but not so rapid in their upward movement. (Cheers.) The prices of these long contracts should be taken into account only at the first audit after the date they were made—(hear, hoar)—and the employers themselves bad said that it was easier to make long contracts when prices were advancing than when they were coming down. Mr W. ABRAHAM, M.P., in reply to one of the delegates, drew attentiou to the 8th clause of the sliding scale agreement, which shewed bow the average prices of coal were got at for the purposes of the scale. Discursive conversation ensued, when proposals without number were made, among them being one that the scale should be revised in the manner suggested by Mr Isaac Evans. This was stoutly opposed, a large number ot delegates maintaining that the meeting had been convened for the purpose of demanding an increased wage, and not to consider the revision of the scale. Even- tually, it was decided to take the voice of each delegate as to whether he had been instructed to vote for or against asking for an advance. The result was as follows, the figures indicating the number of workmen represented l For claiming an a(!-vanem 37,779 For claiming an advance.. 37,779 Against 1,330 Neutral 8,175 The delegates representing the minority agreed to fall in with the views of the majority, and a unanimous resolution to that effect was passed. With reference to the 4qoestion of how ,best to approach the employers in the matter, with a view of securing the desired advance, Mr W. ABRAHAM (Mabon) suggested that a dozen workmen be appointed to wait upon the masters in conjunction with the workmen's representatives on the sliding scale. Mr D. MORGAN opposed, and suggested that the only way to make au effectual appeal was to try and arrange a conference between the mnsters in the coalowners' associations and workmen representing each colliery, where the whole question could be thoroughly discussed. He was in favour of revising the sliding scale, but the question was, how could that be done ? He had no desire to cast any reflections, but be feared that the present system of ascertaining the prices for coal for the purpose of the periodical audits was not a proper one. Most of them were under the impression that the accountants were allowed to go from office to office and see the books themselves, but was that so? "What, then, is done," continued the speaker. "The Coalowners' Association have certain forms to present to the accountants. These forms or sheets go to the col!iery agents, who fill them in, and then send them to their accountants. Now, wuen I was on the sliding-scale board I asked the masters whether it was true that this was so. They replied that it was done, that the accounts received the sheets from the colliery agents, but that the BEaEBSajTN' ——"——————— accountants had a right to go to the offices and see whether the books tallied with the sheets. Now, is thaf being done? I doubt tt. You, as workmen, could only appoint as accountant some person of whom ta., masters approved and under the whole scale the number of accountants chosen was accordingly limited to five." He bad every respect for Mr Abraham, but he did not think that the workmen's repre. sentatives on the sliding-scale re the best men to demand this further advance on their behalf. Mr ISAAC EVANS, Neath, declared that Mr Morgan was wrong, for it was a fact, and he could prove it, that the accountants not merely inspected the sheets, but also compared the sheets with the books in each of the colliery offices. He had the greatest confidence in their accountant, Mr Parsons, of Newport, who, he felt sure, would be willing to appear before them to make any explanation they desired. Mr ABBAHAM, M.P., concurred, and said that they, as representing the workmen on the scale, would not be doing their duty if they did not see as they did that all was conducted fairly. Subsequently it was proposed— That this meeting is unanimously of opinion that the time has arrived when we should ask onr employers for a furte: advance and instruct our representatives on the sliding-scale, accompanied by twelve persons to be elected at this meeting, to approach our employers to that effect. The VICE-CHAIRMAN suggested as a rider— That the representatives chosen by this meeting to carry out these instructions be allowed to adopt tneir own means, and to use their own discretion in the adoption of means, to secure the advance. Both resolution and rider were unanimously passed, and representatives were appointed — three for Rhondda, three for Monmouthshire, three for Merthyr district, and three from among the house-coal men—to act with the sliding scale representatives in the matter. THE EIGHT HOUR MOVEMENT. With reference to the oroposed adoption of the eight hour Bystem, Mr PHILIP JONEs,Abertillery, reported that the conference on the matter intended to have been held between the work- men's representatives on the sliding scale and the employers had not yet taken place. It was, therefore, after a discussion, resolved to leave the matter for three months longer in the hands of the sliding scale board. The meeting then ended, having lasted for over seven hours.










---------------ATROCIOUS MURDER…





---------------THE CARDIFF…