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Trades Council Supports Pearl…

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Trades Council Supports Pearl Agents lu Strike Action. 'Buses And Destructor For Town Considered. A Blind Worker's Indictment Of The Government. Like the November meeting, last Thursday's gathering of the Merthyr Trades Council and Labour Party was full of important 'and inter- esting business. Amongst other things the Council learned important details with respect to the powers sought under the Parliamentary Bill which the Corporation is promoting, from Alderman Chas. Griffiths' report on Council work. It pledged itself to give moral support to the Pearl Assurance agents, who 'are coming out on strike on Christmas tday for a higher re- muneration; and it strongly condemned and sought for effective steps to deal with the pro- fiteering in unoccupied .houses that is going on in the town. And it received a deputation from I the Swansea Blind Institute, a feature of which was the denunciation of the present Government from the blind workers' union for its 'heartless prevention of steps that could have been taken for the alleviation and improvement of the lot of the sightless. The question of the Assurance agents' strike arose on a letter received from the Treharris Branch of the National Amelgamated Union of Assurance Agents informing the Trades Council that the.strike was contemplated as inevitable, and asking that the Council should do all it I could to assist the Pearl Agents in their fight for higher pay. This was spoken to by the branch delegate, who pointed out that all that was asked for at present was moral support. Reviewing the causes of the dispute he startled the Council by declaring, in confirmation of the information conveyed in the lettter, that assurance agents had received no increase in wages during the past five years, although the companies had enormously increased their nett profits during that period. He said he knew cases of men w ho were earning no more than •"{•">/ a week, whilst the average weekly wage of the agents for the whole kingdom was under £ 2. In reply to ques- tions, he said the reason that the Pearl agents were coming out was because they alone of all the companies were really effectively organised into the union, and so they 'had chosen to fight the fight for the whole body of agents, the or- ganised men in the other companies having pledged every possible assistance in the struggle. Mr. Bert Brobyn was anxious to know just wiiat the union meant when it asked for moral assistance, to which the chairman (Mr. J. Ad- kins) replied that he took it that what was wanted was that the Council should use all its influence to induce the affiliated trades-unionists to refuse to pay their contributions to hlbek-leg agents that called at their houses. This raised the question of what would happen to the poli- cies in case such a course was adopted by a policy holder. The delegate pointed out that under the policy conditions no lapsing could take place under thirteen weeks, and the prevention of lapsing would itherefore be prevented by with- holding payments for twelve weeks, and then paying one week, a course that could ba kept up indefinitely. On t'he motion of Air. Bert Brobyn a resolution was adopted pledging any assistance possible, and requesting the delegates to take the ques- tion to their lodges so as to secure every support possible for the Pearl employees during the strike. WORKMEN'S TRAINS. I Two letters that had been written to the rail- way companies during ithe month were replied to. In the first case the 'request was made that in order that. the down-valley workers should not bo compelled either to pay the full return fare from the place of their occupation, or for the scheduled time at which workmen's trains were available, that in the event of work not being available the tickets should be used on any up- train to Merthyr, to be made available by the provision of an up-coach on the train. In reply to this the R'hymney Company could not do any- thing. Another letter had asked that the wait- ing-rooms should be thrown open to workmen travelling on cheap tickets. In reply to this it was stated by the com- pany that at one time the rooms (had been so open, but that owiJlg to the condition in p which the men left them they had bad to be closed, but the booking offices were quite avail- able i. case of inclement weather. In respect of rthe first point a colliery workers' delegate said that the position was that the down-valley surface workers finished every day in time to catch the :JO up train, but owing to the conditions of ticket issuance they were com- pelled to wait for the 4 o'clock up train before they could return home. The company provided coaches on the 7 and 9 trains for workmen, and one of these they would willingly sacrifice for the privilege of !a coach on the 3,30. It was agreed to put this view before the com- pany. LUXURY BUILDINC. I A letter from the Labour Party Advisory Com- mittee, requesting information on any luxury- building that was going on in the district to the detriment of private house construction, with a view to using such information for the purpose of forcing the Government- to seriously tackle the question of building working-class houses, was ordered to be handed 'over to the Building 'Trades Federation for particulars. It was asked in this connection whether plans for the erection of a musiehall had oome before the Town Council for approval, and on an a.n- swer being returned in the affirmative, the opinion was expressed that a protest should be sent to the Town Council, but this was not pressed when the President (himself an ex-build- ing trade official) reminded the delegates thai whilst the Council was inot getting on with houses and the building contractors were not en- gaging in Iiixiii-v building the workers in the building trades were idle, and they would pre- fer .to ,he engaged on luxury building to eating the bread of idleness. It was decided to seek further information be- fore expressing an opinion on a resolution sub- mitted from Bradford, and intended for forward- ing to the next Labour Party Conference, advo- cating a pooling of 20 per cent, of all national incomes from whatever source derived, and the distribution of the pooled sum to every indi- vidual at a flat rate irrespective of earning ca- pacity or other qualifications. s l'he Executive had considered a communica- tion from the Merthyr I.L.P. asking that the Council's 'own 'resolution to set up an Advisory Committee for the purpose of considering the question of the increases to high-salaried officials in the public services, and urging the necessity of a South "NY ales conference of La bour represen- tatives ou public bodies for the purpose of find- ing an uniform policy in dealing with the ques- tion should be adopted. The Council agreed to the Executive's recommendation that in view of the importance of the subject the question should be relegated to the new Council which will meet next month. CRAVE DICCERS CRITICISED. I I Recently the Council sent a deputation to the Municipal Employees' Association, as the result of representations made by the Graig Lodge, and supported by other bodies, with the purpose of trying to secure an alteration of the Saturday burial hours at the cemeteries. It was then pointed out that the added charges for the pay- ment of ogertime seriously penalised the poorer classes who more more concerned in Saturday burials than anyone else, whilst the observance of the present hours meant that any workers who desired to pay a last tribute of respect to a dead fellow meant the loss of a half -day's:wages. A reply ito that deputation was now read, in which it was stated that the sextons and grave- diggers employed by the Borough Council could not entertain any departure from their present working hours. If the public felt itself suffering from any grievance therefrom, it must take it up with the Borough Council, concluded the letter. That reply met with general condemnation from the delegates. The Graig delegate pointed out that no principle was at stake, for they found that the grave diggers were quite pre- pared to work if they were paid-and well paid for working overtime. When the general public, who had assisted them to get their demands by returning Labour representatives, asked them to meet them in a matter which greatly con- cerned that public, and particularly the poorer sections of it, then these men turned round and flouted that public. What they had been asked to do was not fto work extra hours, but to pro- vide an overlapping shift so as to meet the needs of the greater number of the community, a.nd their answer wa.s No, but we will do the work if we are paid for it! (Hear, hear.) Mr. Idris Davies said the question was getting far more serious than it was when the Council sent the deputation. Only the previous Satur- day lie had been tackled by some meji who had been to a funeral, arid owing to the existing con- ditions had been compelled to lose half-a-day. People then turned round and blamed the La- bour Party for the position. He saw no reason why these men could not tell off one of their number for the purpose of filling the graves, for the great task was in opening and not in filling the earth. The position was going to create a great deal of inconvenience and needless ex- pense, and the men should be compelled to meet the Trades Council on this matter. Bert Brobyn felt that it was unfortunate that the M.E.A. had taken up the attitude it had, and the delegates were with him and not with the chairman when he asked delegates not to stigmatise the action as unreasonable until they had heard the M.E.A. point of view, and it was unanimously decided that the M.E.A. should be told that the Council was not satisfied with the reply, and would expect them to attend before the Council for the purpose of explanation. MAY DAY SPEAKERS. The Secretary (Mr. W. J. Davies) intimated that Mr. Ben Spoor, M.P. (subject to no import- ant business being before the House of Com- mons) and Messrs. Bob Williams and C. T. Cramp had accepted invitations to address the Merthyr May Day gathering. They were ac- cepted. He also said that he wa.s still awaiting a reply from Miss Mary McArtliur (Mrs. W. C. Anderson) who had been away in America, and was endeavouring to get in touch with Mrs. Sheehy Skeffington and Mrs. Conolly for the same meeting.

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