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THE MORAL OF SENGIIEN YDD. On Monday the conference of the South Wales Miners' Federation will consider a series of important propo-, sals, formulated by the Executive Council, designed to make the working conditions in collieries more safe; The proposals are the outcome of much earnest thinking and heartsearching occasioned by the Senghenydd holo- caust. That disaster brought home to the public the danger of the miners' occupation in so far as they are exposed to moving accidents of that magnitude. But what the public do not realise, and what every mineworker knows, is that explosions, harrowing as they are, by no means constitute all or even the greater'part of the toll of the mine. The single fatalities, which average five a day, are the worst feature, but be- cause they happen singly, and net on a dramatic scale, they are apt to pass unnoticed and unheeded by the general public. For., the last ten years the average number of deaths "from colliery 'accidents in a year have been 1,420. "•This means that a number of miners equal to those employed in any one of the largest collieries in West Wales are annually wiped out. Five thousand dependents are every year bereft of their breadwinners and thrown helpless (save for the pitifully small compensa- tion allowance) on the dark and cruel waters of a friendless world. If these men lost their lives in battle on a South African veldt, or on an explor- mgexpcditian in the Antarctic, or in a in, the itntar(!t-ic, in' a to .0te %z ov ii) he.t of t} r.ation would be stipred to depths. But it L» a.poor nation, and a poor patriotism that account^ rniner; of less value than soldiers or sailors or explorers, or Transatlantic passengers, The- men who lose their lives winning th:1t keeps the \vhff.e. Gf -industry | :evolving perish in as good a cause as any officer or scientist whose bOIfc, are covered rudo cairns u: Polar war^-os. The tragedy is that these deaths in I collieries are preventible; they are not 1 a toll exact-ed by a cruel an inexorable nature over which men have no control. It is the business of the Federation to make this fact known, and to have the obvious implications acted upon. In another column v, ill be found a list of the proposals that the Federation is to discuss. These comprise provisions for prohibiting the stowing of inflammable or combustible material, particularly of small coal, for prohibiting the use of electric power for haulage, for substi- tuting electric lamps for safety lamps, for safety doors in intake roadways, and doing away with haulage machin- ery in return airways, for better super- vision by the workmen's examiners, and increase in the number of Govern- ment inspectors of mines. Whatever doubt may attach to one or two: of these proposals it is certain that the majority are feasible. One thing stands in the way—expense, or in other words the profits of the coalowners and the exactions of the royalty owners. The proposals which the Federation finally decides upon will not be adopt- ed without a struggle. The fight will resolve itself into a battle between capitalism and humanitarianism. Divi- dends or men's lives, profits or human well-being, greed or brotherhood, sel- fishness or love of our fellow-men r- that will be the issue on which the Federation will have to appeal to the public. We have no doubt which will triumph in the long run. Leagued with the coalowners and the royalty owners will be the great bulk of the capitalist interests, the Liberal Govern- ment and its egregious Home Secretary, and in a lesser measure, the whole of the mining department of the Home Office whose inspectors and officials are drawn from a class accustomed to look at affairs from the standpoints of the employers. On the other side there will be the sympathy and active assis- tance of the organised working class, and that ever-growing section of the community which inclines to view seriously its social obligations. The miners and the Labour Party must look forward to unremitting effort. After the death of one of her children the late Mrs. Margaret Macdonald could not bear to contemplate the statistics of infant mortality. They were so terribly real. She felt the poignant heart-stab in each of the units that made the total. There is tragedy, there are seal ed human hearts behind every one of the 1,420 deaths that occur annually in the mines. We must give the nation no peace until that is realised.




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