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THE BLAENGARW COLLIERY COMPANY SUED. AN INTERESTING COUNTY COURT CASE. At the Bridgend (adjourned) County Court on Monday-before His Honour Judge Gwilym Williams-Thomas Phillips, Pontycymmer, brought a claim against the Blaengarw Colliery Company (Ltd.), in respect of wages which he alleged had been actually earned, and of damages for wrongful dismissal. The Company brought a counter-claim of £5 18s 10d against Phillips for damages alleged to have arisen by his negligence in causing a fall.- Mr T. J. Hughes appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr S. H. Stockwood for the defendant Company. Plaintiff stated that on October 22ad he was in the employ of the company as fireman, and had been for the previous three months. The colliery employed over 100 men. On the night of October 18th he was engaged as night fireman. Just before going out he was seen by Wm Davies, the overman, who told him to cut down the cross heading. On going down after his rounds, he found two pieces threatening to fall. It was an urgent matter, and witnees attended to it at once. Two men were at it all night by his directions. They saved one piece and the other came down. Witness's time was up at five o'clock the two men had not finished then, and he left them removing the rubbish. In the evening before going down. he saw Mr Hunter, the manager of the colliery, who told him that he had done very wrong in putting the men on the three cross headings instead of another place. Witness gave him his reason for doing so-it was a thing that bad suddenly developed. Mr Hunter also com- plained to him that he bad allowed too much overtime that morning, and thai he was not to allow in. At this stage the plaintiff, who can speak Welsh better than English, got rather mixed, and the Judge had some difficulty in ascertaining from him whether Mr Hunter told him that he was not to allow overtime on any account, or that he was to allow it when absolutely bound. Asked to give his answer in Welsh, however, plain tiff distinctly stated that Mr Hunter told him that henceforth he was to allow overtime under no circumstances. Continuing, witness said he reported this to the day fireman, and that the fall had not been cleared. "There will be trouble ahead," witness said, but I can't do anything considering the orders I had." It would have taken about two hours to clear the fall. On the following night he received a written message from Wm Davies that he was not to go as fireman, but he could go as timberman if he wished. He saw Mr Hunter on Monday, and asked him for his money. Mr Hunter said he would not have them as he had not stopped him. Witness showed him the note, and he said William Davies had no business to do so." There were four days' wages due to witness—17s. He claimed 21 turns in lieu of a fortnight's notice. Cross-examined by Mr Stockwood It was not part of his engagement to do any repairing, but only to look after eight or nine men. Mr Hunter told him at first that he was not to have overtime unless bound to; but on the day mentioned be was told that he was not to have overtime on any account. His Honour It's hardly probable that any man in his senses could have said that, because all sons of unforeseen developments corne about in a colliery. Plaintiff Mr Hunter told me that I did wrong in putting men on on the 18th, and then it was the fall of a roof. Cross-examination continued Did you tell one of the repairers put in a shot and let the place go to -"P Plaintiff; No sir. Did one of the repairers tell you that there was no need to do what you told them to do ?—No sir. Did he tell you afterwards that he had put the shot.-Yes sir. On the same day he instructed a repairer to put a shot somewhere else and it was done. He gave notice because he would not take a row unless he deserved it." He did not tell any one that John Richards was going to fire a shot that would" b- the place up." Nor did he say to Davies, the overman nothing that I do is of im- portance, but you'll see about the importance now." He did not tell him the place was roofed up. He was not annoyed at Mr Hunter speaking to him about the overtime. Mr Stockwood Didn't you fire the shot with the express purpose of bringing the top down so as to atop the work ? Plaintiff: No sir. Didn't you do it in spite of the fact that the repairer told you it was not safe to do it ? Defendant: No sir. You know the fall did stop the work ? Yes for some time. I had an offer to continue working at the same wages, but not as fireman. He supposed they thought he was not fit to be in charge of the job. Mr Hughes: On the Monday, though you are alleged to have threatened to blow the whole thing up you were offered a job there at the same wages ? —Witness Yes. I Watkin John, who said be had been a collier for 24 years, gave it as his opinion that it was not safe to take out the two pieces of timber, as the plaintiff was told to do. The shot was fired, and the roof come down. It would only take two hours to clear the fall, but Phillips told the repairers that he could not allow any overtime. By Mr Stockwood He was a lodger with Phillips. He did not hear Phillips say that they could pull the place to By Mr Hughes He was not lodging with the plaintiff now. This was the plaintiff's case. THE DEFENCE. Mr Hunter (manager of the colliery), giving evidence in defence, stated that he never com- plained of the overtime in clearing an heading, He complained to plaintiff on the 19th that he was making overtime when there was no necessity for it, and his instructions to him were that he was not to allow overtime unless it was absolutely necessary. He never told him to have no over- time on any account. His instructions to him were to interfere with the roof as little as possible -only the coler. On the Saturday he did not see Phillips, and appointed a man in his place. When he came on Monday he asked him why he left the full, and he then stated, You told me not to have overtime." The 21 turns for which the plaintiff claimed were very excessive. It should be Hi. In consequence of the fall there was a loss of £5 18s 5d. By Mr Hughes: Five trams were sent up from inside the fall on the 20th October, but not all worked that day. He took it that 34 tens more could have been worked but for the fall. In arriving at the total of.£5 18?, he gave credit for the coal that was worked on the 20th. By Mr Stockwood: The No. 3 heading, in his opinion, had nothing to do with the case. Evan Howell, a repairer, said be had orders to put in the shot, and alleged that plaintiff said Let the thing go to hell. He told plaintiff if his in- structions were carried out it would stop the work, Plaintiff told the repairers afterwards that there would be no overtime allowed to clear the fall. There was no need to put in the shot; two posts under the roof would have done, and that was what they would have done but for plaintiff's orders. The roof was a good one, and would stan'd with posts put under it. John Richards, repairer, John Cox, repairer, and William Davies, the overman, also gave evidence. The latter stated that there was no neoessity to put the shot in, the coler was too low; and what was necessary to be done was to put posts on each side. Plaintiff sau* to him '• It seems that everything I do is of no importance; you'll see the importance now." Mr Hunter did not tell plaintiff that he was not to allow overtime on any account. Mr Hughes submitted that the counter-claim must fall through because the latt witness had satisfied His Honour that the men, although not actually cutting coal on Saturday, were doing work in making preparations, which, under any circum- stances, would have to be done some time or another, and so enabling the output to be propor- tionally increased by the following Monday. His Honour: But each day stands by itself. The working expenses of a colliery go on and the only way in which a colliery can be made to pay is to produce a certain quantity of coal in that day and j what they say here is that the coal which they had a right to count on that day was not produced, and that in consequence of this fall. As to the plaintiff's case, that's gone a long time. He disobeyed the proper orders given him in the colliery. If he showed himself incompetent, and particularly if he disobeyed the proper order given, he can't complain if he is dismissed. But he was not dismissed from actual \York. With regard to the £1 3?, however, I consider he has earned that, and I give judgment accordingly. As to the counter-claim, there's no doubt that plaintiff caused considerable loss to the colliery by what he did and he is liable for the effects of his acts. We must give credit, however, for 11 trams of coal, whenever they came out. On the counter-claim I give judgment for £ 3. No costs for witnesses are allowed. =====












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