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FACTS AND FIGURES FOR THE WELSH MINERS. BENEFITS LOST BY CONTRACTING- OUT. CHIEF REGISTRAR'S CERTIFICATES. WORKMEN'S INTERESTS IGNORED. SEVERE STRICTURES BY MABON. Mabon writes:—Many and divers are the methods used to persuade the miners of South Wales to con- tract themselves out of the provisions of the Work- men's Compensation Act for considerations much less valuable than they are entitled to were they not to do so. We are told by the Western Mail that they understand that in consequence of the action taken by the miners' agents, the workmen in the South Wales coalfield are taking steps to test by a ballot the views of the majority as to the scheme proposed by the Permanent Fund in substitution for the provisions of the Act. If the miners' agents had done nothing else in the way of endeavouring to get the colliery workmen of this district to be allowed to enjoy the pro- visions of the Compensation Act than this weary action that is now attributed to them, they have fairly earned the lasting gratitude of those me., whose liberty in this matter they have thus secured. For it is evident that most of the South Wales employers and those that drafted their scheme for them, as well as the Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies, never thought it necessary that the workmen- the real bodies of workmen to be affected- should ever have such an opportunity. We find that among the last list of compensa- tion schemes that had been approved of by the Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies, made up to the 12th of September, there are six affecting collieries in Monmouthshire and South Wales, viz. Workpeople Messrs Lewis, Navigation Collieries, affected. Hafod, near Pontypridd United National Collieries, Limited, Wattstown, Risca, and Abercarn 46 Universal Steam Coal Co., Limited, Senghenith, near Caerphilly 8 Messrs Partridge, Jones and Co., Llanarch Colliery, near Pontypool. 48 Albion Colliery Company, Cilfynydd, Pontypridd 24 John Brace and Co., Pontypool 56 Now, just fancy what these facts and figures expose, and how completely the House of Com- mons was justified in its distrust of the Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies being a fit and proper person for the position he was hoisted into by the Home Secretary and other Government officials, and also how it was justified in the request made that the opinions of the workmen to be affected should be tested by ballot before any scheme should be provided for them. The Home Secretary, in nersuading the House to adopt this official, not only promised to bring this view before the Chief Registrar, but ex- pressed himself strongly in favour of the ballot as the mont reasonable means of ascertaining the opinions of the workmen before proceeding to act in the matter on their behalf. Well, so far as that has been done here in South Wales, we all know that the House has been completely duped in the matter. But let us take the contracting-out clause of the Act itself, and see if the action of the Chief Registrar with regard to South Wales has in any way met the literal requirements of the Act, much less the spirit thereof. The clause says If the Registrar of Friendly Societies, after taking steps to ascertain the views of the em- ployer and workmen, certifies that any scheme of compensation, benefit, or insurance for the work- men of an employer in any employment, whether or not such scheme includes other employers and their workmen, is on the whole not less favourable to the general body of workmen and their dependents than the provisions of the Act, the employer may until the certificate is revoked contract with any of those workmen that the provisions of the scheme shall be substituted for the provisions of this Act, &c., &c." Can any man anywhere be found unreasonable enough even to say that the Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies has carried out either the letter or the spirit of the Act towards the general body of colliery workmen affected in the schemes he has already certified for this coalfield in accepting the signatures of aboat 200 men out of the 10,000 or more that would be working at those collieries had it not been for the strike ? Has he shown any regard whatever for the opinions of the "general body of workmen" here in certifying those schemes when he well knew that the workmen that would be affected were out on strike ? Any man that takes up such an absurd position as to try to justify his action should be also prepared to say that the purpose of this clause is to take in or to dupe the general bodies of workmen through the action of the few. If it is thus he dea s out justice to the men with regard to ascertaining their views before certifying compensation schemes to contract out of the provisions of the Act, how can he be ex- pected to deal any better with the other point, that the proposed scheme should be on the whole not less favourable to them and their dependents than the provisions of the Act ? As the Chief Registrar has proved so indifferent to their rights in the one case the workmen very naturally will be doubtful as to his action with regard to the other. Let us test this other point. Speaking at Blaenavon on Wednesday night last, I expressed the opinion that the monetary consideration provided by the Act was at least one farthing per ton more than the employers were prepared to give for contracting-out. And the Mail says that surely Mabon does not profess to be a greater authority on the working of the Act than the Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies and his staff of actuaries." Decidedly not. But Mabon has a much greater authority at band than either of these, The Mail quotes, with regard to the Bill, the First Lord of the Treasury when he said, One pennyworth, of experience is worth a thousand pounds of theory." According to the Mail itself the Welsh miners have not had on the whole more than three weeks' experience of the operation of the Act. But the Chief Registrar had no experience what- ever of the working of the Act or any of the schemes he had certified for this coalfield up to the 12th of last month.All his calculations therefore were based upon theory, or upon some practical basis supplied to him from the working of the old South Wales Permanent Fund. If the former it is not according to the First Lord of the Treasury, and the Mail, worth one penny." If the latter, then we have a much greater authority on the question at home, a gentleman who, in South Wales, has already spoken authoritatively upon the matter. Sir W. T. Lewis,the chairman of the Employers' Emergency Committee, and the prince of all authorities upon the case, stated most emphatically, in a debate upon this matter between the Emergency and Provisional Committees, that according to the latest reliable actuarial investigation, the actual average cost of working the Compensation Act in the South Wales collieries would be 1 l-10d per ton. The miners of South Wales will believe Sir William in this matter before a thousand Chief Registrars of Friendly Societies and since the employers are not prepared to give the workmen more than the value of three farthings per ton for contracting themselves out of the provisions of the Act, Mabon is certainly right when he says that the monetary consideration provided by the Act is at least a. farthing per ton more than the employers are prepared to give for contracting out. Moreover, Mr Neisson, F.S.S., the actuary employed by the South Wales Permanent Fund since its commencement, in a report made for Sir William T. Lewis upon the bearing of the Workmen's Compensation for Accidents Bill, upon this coal field, made this astounding state- ment :—" That the financial incidents of the risks under the Bill would on even the most favourable assumption be, in respect of Per 10,000 men employed. Fatal accidents X7,000 Fatal aL Incapacity £9,200 Tots-I X16,200 Or say, JE1 12s per annum for every employee. Taking, the maximum allowance under the Bill, the cost would be£2 18s per employee per annum. Possibly, this latter figute will not eventuate, but it is right to bear it in mind, seeing that in the history of life insurance no organisation not founded on the mutual principle of assurance has ever yet been enabled to successfully cope with a disablement benefit. Disregarding altogether the statement with regard to the maximum allowance of. X2 18s, and accepting the ii 12s per annum for every em- ployee, you will see that it aiaounts to 7 5-13d, or a little over 7 per n ner week; in other words, a little over 2ici 1'1' week per man more than the employers are paying for their schemes for contracting out! Take the two statements together and you will find that according to the first-that of Sir W. T. Lewis-the workmen will receive from the employers a little over three-fourths less, and according to the second— Mr Neisson's-a little over one-third less, for con- tracting out than they would be entitled to were they to abide by the provisions of the Act. I will close this letter-I say this letter, for there are more points to be dealt with-by affirm- ing— (a) There are some schemes certified by the Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies and posted up at the collieries in South Wales as to which it is questionable whether the views of any of the workmen coming under them ever saw or heard of them before they were certified. This much is known that no number of such workmen is stated to have approved of them. Again (b), calculations as to the cost of these schemes to the employers have not been based upon any experience of the working of the Act itself at the collieries which they affect. (c) The title of the schemes is misleading. They are all one and the same scheme, prov- ing that the calculation with regard to them has been made upon some general basis and not upon any practical working of the Act at the collieries the names cf which they bear. (d) Without such practical experience of the working of the Act in the South Wales col- lieries the Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies could have no guide but that afforded him by the experience gained nnder the Permanent Relief Fund. That being so, we cannot accept his action *s in any way disproving the statements made by 3ir W. T. Ijewis and Mr G. P. Neisson, both of L whom have had some 18 years' experience of the working of the Permanent Relief Fund as affected by the mining accidents in the South Wales coalfield. (e) The difference between the benefits which the workmen of South Wales will receive from the schemes to contract out and what they are en- titled to under the Act, is the amount which they will pay for the Compensation Act. CRITICISM BY MR ABEL THOMAS, M.P. Mr Abel Thomas, Q.C., M.P., addressed a meet- ing at Burry Port on Saturday evening on the Compensation Act. attendance was a good one, and the chair was taken by Mr W. Howell. In a long and lucid address Mr Thomas first dealt with the common law with respect to acci- dents-in other words, the one in force prior to 1880. In that year was passed the Employers' Liability Act, which brought about a great change in the principle of the law. It was said by employers at the time that its adoption would be disastrous to the country's industries, but the result had been quite the opposite to prophesy. It had proved of great benefit alike to the employer and the workman, and its one fault was that it was not quite broad enough. Under that Act the workman could not recover compensation unless it was proved against the employer that he was guilty of negligence, or helped to cause the accident through his want of care or skill. If it were proved that the workman were guilty of con- tributory negligence the employer was exonerated from liability. After explaining the amount of compensation recoverable, Mr Thomas proceeded to deal with the new Act, and pointed out that it did not cancel any enactment previously passed. He described it as being extremely far- reaching in its effect, and said that in the various trades affected compensation could only be with- held in the event of serious and wilful miscon- duct of the workman. The real meaning of that phrase had yet to be determined,, and although the Act in some respects was very illogical, they had to remember that it was an • experiment and a step in the right direction. Again, disastrous results had been foreshadowed, but he was satisfied they would turn out to be groundless. He went on to detail the various employments within the mean- ing of the Act, and regretted that farm servants, sailors, and domestic servants were excluded. No shop assistants would benefit, except, he thought, they were injured whilst grinding coffee by steam power. The system of compensation was explained—by a joint committee, arbitrator, or county court judge—and he thought the body generally applied to would be the first named. In some cases possibly the benefits would be too great, as in the ease of a young healthy man earning JE1 per week who would be entitled to half that amount for the rest of his life. At the ordinary purchase system of 25 years he would very likely receive a lump sum of £1,3<X) in lieu of any further claim, and they must admit that it would be excessive. However, they must allow the Act to work out before making any altera- tions. Mr Thomas said liability was extended to owners and occupiers of works, not sub-contrac tors alone, and if one should become bankrupt the compensation would become a preferential claim in full. Mr Thomas dealt with the system of contracting out, and at the conclusion received a hearty vote of thanks. PROGRESS OF THE PROVIDENT FUND SCHEME. TUNNEL AND BLAENNANT PITS. A deputation, consisting of representatives from the workmen employed at the Tunnel and Blaennant Collieries, waited on Friday upon Mr James Lewis at the Aberdare Works offices for the purpose of requesting him to join with them in adopting the scheme propounded by the Board of Management of the Miners' Provident Fund. Mr David Evans, speaking on behalf of the deputation, stated that the Abernaut workmen believed that the old Permanent Fund had been a great blessing to them in the past, and they were desirous that the same good relationship shonld continue between them and their employers in the future. Other members of the deputation having expressed themselves to the same effect, Mr James Lewis, in reply, said he had gone into the question very carefully, and he was fully convinced that it would be far less costly for him to allow the Act to take its course, yet, when be saw what blessings a mutual arrangement had conferred upon the workmen and their families in the past, he felt inclined to assist them again, although the 5d per workman per week required by the scheme was far more than what the Act would cost him. He would therefore agree with them in applying for the scheme. ABERSYCHAN. With the exception of two the workmen em- ployed by Messrs James and Emanuel at Aber- sychan have decided to adopt the scheme. MAESTEG. The North Navigation Company having joined the Employers' Indemnity Fund, have so far declined to consider the Permanent Fund scheme. As over 200 of the Coednant workmen and a large number of the employees of other collieries belonging to this company have, it is stated, ex. pressed their desire for a scheme, it is probable that a strong representation will be made to the directors with a view of inducing them to join. ABERCARN. A ballot taken by the colliers employed at the Prince of Wales Pit, Aberearn, on the question of the scheme to contract out of the Act resulted in favour of contracting out by a majority of 50, the figures being :—For contracting out, 441 against, 391. THE EMPLOYERS' SCHEME. THE COMPENSATION ACT OF 1897. TO THE EDITOR. SIB.—In your issue of yesterday s date Lfiad a correspondent who signs himself Truth making certain remarks upon statements alleged to have been made by me on the previous evening at Tynewydd, Ogmore. He accompanies his remarks with a short ethical homily, which he would have done well to preserve for and apply to himself, it may be that I have fallen a victim to your" condensing process," but in this case it is extremely improbable, as I am not aware that a reporter was present. But in answer to your correspondent's remarks I beg to state that his premise is unwarranted and entirely wrong. The report is absolutely incorrect. I spoke for over an hour, comparing the Employers' Liability Act of 1880, the Compensation Act of 1897, the benefits of members under the rules applicable to Class A of the Permanent Fund with the employers' scheme," and the scheme suffered greatly thereby. He states that I told the men at Tynewydd that 3jd per week should be devoted to keeping ap the Permanent Fund and to keeping its £300,000 or £1100,000 invested funds. By this plan a man earning JE1 per week would on dis- ablement receive from the fund 6s per week, and from his employer under the Act 10s per week (one-half his earnings), in all 16s per week, whilst the new scheme would only yield him 10s for the same weekly contribution." The foregoing is a gross misrepresentation of my statements. It would simply be impossible for a person professing to possess the slightest knowledge of the conditions of membership under Class A to have committed the errors he points out. The £300,000 or £400,000 were not treated by me as investments, but in connection with a process of accumulation under certain conditions. I urged the men to continue their membership Hilder Class A, so as to preserve their interest in 1!e present invested funds. Also I pointed out to the men that by taking full advantage of the Compensation Act of 1897 the employers would at all times be made fully conscious of the fact that the lives and limbs of their workmen were under their care, and that thereby accidents would be greatly minimised in the future, as the result of greater care and better conditions, and consequently the liabilities of the Permanent Fund would decrease correspondingly, and a higher amount of disablement pay would naturally accrue therefrom. One of the comparisons made by me at the meeting referred to was as follows :—" That whilst the scheme gave only 10s per week in case of disablement for a monthly contribution of Is the Act would itself give to a disabled work- man earning an average of 24s per week 12s per week, and that if he continued his membership under Class A it would be supplemented by 4s 6d per week for the first six weeks, and 6s per week afterwards, so that under the Act and Class A of the Permanent Fund he would receive for the first six weeks 16s per week, and afterwards 18s per week for a monthly contribution of Is 2d, whereas he would only get 10s per week for the first six weeks and 8s per week afterwards under the scheme for a monthly contribution of Is." I made other comparisons between the "Act itself and the scheme," and according to my showing the former is preferable to the latter.— I am, &c„ JOHN WILLIAMS. Skewen, Sept. 23, 1898.





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