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PONTARDAWE PUBLIC HALL-

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PONTARDAWE PUBLIC HALL- ACTION OF COMMITTEE TOWARDS CARETAKER, There was a good attendance at the Public Hall, Pontardawe, last Thursday night to consider the action taken by the Hall Committee in regard to the care- taker, Mr. G. T. Jenkins, and also to discuss the action of the farmers and milkvendors in raising the price of milk. The meeting had been called under the auspices of the Pontardawe Trades and Labour Council, and, Mr. David Evans (Trebanoe) presided. The Chairman at the outset, referred to the action of the Hall Committee. He said tha.t some time ago the committee decided that steps should be taken to economise, and the only way they could do this was by reducing the salary of the c,ai-etakcr from a guinea- to 10s. per week, with five shillings a week added subsequently as war bonus. He considered that, course a wrong one to adopt, es- pecially when the salaries of other men were thing increased on account of the high price of foodstuffs, etc. I Mr. Tom Jeremiah, who was the prin- cipalspea ker, said he was before them that evening to appeal on behalf of one who was a public servant, an d he (Mr. Jeremiah) was being continually told he would live to regret everything he was doing at present. He had been brought up as a worker, and although he broug It up <1,<: a w was young in the trade union movement, he was bent upon doing all he could to imwove the conditions of his fellow work- man if they were unfairly dealt with by a certain section in Pontardawe. The crime which he (the speaker) was sup- pose d to have committed was that he was young, rash, and too ready to answer a L'. h b' t f that questions straight. The object of that meeting was to try and get justice, free- dom, and liberty, and it was the duty of all people to render support in time of need. Prior to the erection of the Pub- lic Fall in Pontardawe they as workers felt they should have a hall, and con- trolled by themselves. At that time he spoke very strongly on the matter that they should have a place w here they could discuss public questions and edu- cate thmselves on various points. As soon as the news leaked out a certain section which vris always trying to flout and retard progress jumped in a.nd after a number of meetings held it was agreed to ciect the hali. About six months ago he (th" speaker) received a letter from the secretary of the hall informing him th:it there was a genea-al. meeting to be held to discuss the question of the care- taker. As it happened on that occasion -a meeting was held at the hall on a Sun- day night, and amongst the audi- ence was a certain lady. After she had taken her seat she noticed some dust, a.nd after making use of words such as "scandalous," etc., she complained to the standing committee, with the result that the caretaker, with- out being given a chance to defend him- self, was oondemned, for the simple reason that the lady had teen some dust on the seat. Since then things had de- veloped. Some time ago the billiard marker at the haU was taken ill, and sent away to a sanatorium. The marker's wages were 23s. pET week and 5 per oeni, of the takings in the billiard room. He asked those in the audience to con- sider that among the members of the standing committee were men who were receiving £ 400, JE500 or £ 1,000 a year. There were men there also from the trade union movement voicing the feel- ings of the workers, and yet they asked Mr. Jenkins, the caretaker, to do the job of billiard marker at 7s. per week. (Laughter.) The previous marker was getting 23s. per week and 5 per cent, on the takings, and the committee gave the present care- taker ten minutes to decide whether he would take the job at 7a. per week. The caretaker came into the meeting and asked the committee to give him .1. week to consider the matter. The committee refused. Was that the case when thty as trades unionists had grieva.nc i; to settle with the employer? Had an em- ployer ever given the men ten minutes to decide whether they would accept terms submitted to them?-No, never Yet, the chairman of the standing oii mittee was a Labour man by name, and he (the speaker) was quite prepared f meet him on any public platform and to say that he was not a Labour man. He had taken a keen interest in Labour mat- ters at the works during the pant four Years, but Mr Frank Gilbertson hai never given them or him to decide oer- t,ain matter, in ten minutes. Yet the men who --d ped t hat course called them- selves Christians. They were chapel men aod they were men v. ho rdused to wrk eight fiours. They preferred working twelve hours to get more money. Those he people wtio exiled others and hardsell (the speaker) infidels, because they stayed outside. He ventured to state that the former were the infidels. It was Chrit on Sunday and county oourt on Monday. (La-ughter.) Proceeding, the speaker said that the standing committee had no right to give the caretaker 28 days notice. He tried the matter before the general committee, but he was in the minority. Next he received a letter 'to attend a meeting to consider the question of advertising. He attended and he moved that the minute in regard to the care- taker be rescinded and that the matter I be deferred for three months. He was ruled out of order. He next moved that all members who were paying rent to- wards the hall should be given an oppor- tunity of hearing the position of the care- taker. He was again ruled out of order He moved for the third time that the hall be given free of charge for a public meeting in order that the caretaker should state his case. The chairman Mid that could not be done. He (the speaker) challenged the chairman and mentioned that the hall had been granted free of charge on the occasion of a Y.M.C.A. meeting some time ago. Proceeding to say that the matter should be taken back to the churches and chapels and the question should be asked during prayer whether it was right to put a man and his family on the road. He did not blame the men who came to the committee. He blamed those who had the votes to sendi such men to tho Hall. It -,N as no wonder that places of worship were getting empty j w hen there was so miuch hypocrisy j about. They must be honest and straightforward and let every man play the part of the man. In conclusion the speaker said that although he was doomed as far as the future was con- cerned, according to some men he felt convinced that he had done his best in defence of thie calretaker and his family. If he was not mistaken, the Kaiser's were not in Germany, but in their own midst. (Aplause). Mr. G. H. Davies, another member ot the Hall Committee, also criticised the action of the majority. He con- tended that they had no right to place a man and his family on thestreet with- out being given a fair trial. He was sorry that the spirit of Prussianism was dominant in Pontardawe. In conclusion he contended that the committee respon- sible for the notice had acted in an un- constitutional manner. Mr. G. T. Jenkins, the caretaker, also spoke. He complained of what he de- scribed as the tyrannical treatment meted out to him for months past, and criticised the committee which recommended the reduction in his salary from £1 Is. to 10s. per week, which he refused to ac- cept. He had heard it mentioned that one reason for reducing his salary was because he had one daughter in the teaching profession. He never heard of anything so absurd. That girl had earned scholarships which entitled her to free education. That was how she was teach- ing. It was immaterial to some members of the committee whether their child- ren won scholarships or not. They had plenty of money to put their children in colleges and universities. (Hear, hear.) He had another daughter as a nurse in Birmingham attending to the wounded from the Dardanelles. He had a son in the Army—(hear, heax)-and another daughter at school w ho had won scholar- ships, and although she was qualified to act as a teacher she was too young to adopt the profession. (Hear, hear.) A resolution was carried objecting to the unconstitutional and undemocratic manner in which the sub-committee of the Public Hall had dealt with the care- taker and further that they should de- mand the withdrawal of the notice. THE MILK QUESTION. I The next business was to discuss the milk question, and the action of the far- mers and mi Ik vendors in raising the price by Id., per pint. There were a large num- ber of farmers and milkvendors present. Mr. T. Jeremiah, who was the first speaker, said he believed there was a game being played by the farmers and he disagreed entirely with any section of the community which tried to exploit the masses. He knew very well that two years ago the price of milk was lid. per pint. Since then it had gone up to 2d., and now again it was to be raised to 2id. He admitted that the farmers were exceed- ingly well organised, but there was one amongst them who was a very clever man, and who was continually advising the farmers to raise the price of milk. The result was that the public wanted to know something about the matter. He (the speaker) was of the opinion that there were too many in the country who weire taking advantage of the war, and the farmers were asking the people to drink their milk and at the same time they were drinking the blood of the workers whose wages had not been ad- vanced equivalent to the advance asked for on milk. The speaker went on to state that potatoes had gone up from 4s. 6d. to 6s. per cwt., and eggs were now 2d.. each. A lady m the audience And swedes. (Laughter.) Mr. George Howells (Gellyfowy), in de- fence" of the farmers referred to the ad- vance the farmers had to pay for their good;, since the outbreak of war. Barleymeal had gone up from 12s. to 27s. per sack. whilst cake for cattle had gone up double, etc. A long discussion took place and the meeting broke up at 10.30 p.m. before any decision was arrived at.

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