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Haverfordwest Board ofI Guardians.

South Wales Colliery Dispute.;


South Wales Colliery Dispute. STRUGGLE OVER AT LAST. AGREEMENT SIGNED. AGREEMENT SIGNED. MABON'S DAY SURRENDERED. The special correspondent of the Daily News, writing from Cardiff on Thursday, says:— The great coal strike is at an end. I wish I could add that the points at issue between masters and men have been amicably and finally settled. Unfortunately that is not so. The men will, I fear, go back to work in an exceedingly bitter and resent- ful temper, and though it hardly seems probable that another strike will happen in this part of the world for a long time to come, it will certainly be a long while before anything like good will can be established. I have little doubt that the result of to-day's conference will have done as much as anything that has happened all along to chafe and irritate and embitter the feelings of the men. The Conference was opened this morning in the Engineers' Institute about eleven o'clock, the two committees haviug for a short time previously been in conclave separately. The agreement was finally signed between three and four in the afternoon, and the whole of the intervening time was occupied in an attempt on the part of the men's representatives to bring the employers to some sort of compromise on the subject of Mabon's Day," which in this mining district is not altogether an ideal institution. It was set up some years ago without the approval or consent of the employers, and for the specific purpose of affording the men an opportunity to come together for the discussion of their common interests. For that very reasonable purpose it has undoubtedly been a failure. One day a month for discussion of purely business affairs among miners was certainly a very liberal allowance, and, as might have been expected, the first Monday in each month has become simply a miners' holiday. Most of us who live above ground would probably be disposed to regard this arrangement very, very indulgently, and none of us will find much difficulty in under- standing the reluctance of the pitmen to give it up; but the truth is that the colliery owners have long chafed under what they regard as a great nuisance, and some of the best friends of the men have been those who have most sincerely desired some alteration. They say that it is the occasion of a great deal of drunkenness and general demoralis- ation, and the masters say that it interferes with work for a whole week. On the Tuesday following the Monday holiday the employers rarely get more than fifty per cent. of their men, and on Wednesday only about seventy-five, and some do not get back for the whole week. They have, of course, just the same standing expenses whether all the men are working or only half, and I have heard it stated that this monthly holiday adds about 3d a ton to the cost of coal. Nobody could have been surprised that the masters took this opportunity of insisting on a reform, and from my conversation with "Mabon," I gathered that he himself waS quite prepared for some better arrangement. The masters do not seem to have done all they might have done to restrict the evils they complained of. Every man absenting himself after the holiday was breaking his contract, but so far as I can learn, no attempt has ever been made to enforce penalties. Last July, in the plenitude of their powers, the colliery owners, as I explained yesterday, posted at their pit-heads, among other terms to be accepted by the men, the stipulation that Mabon's Day was to be given up. From all I heard, I should say they were right in doing so. Where I think they were wrong was in expressly declaring that nothing equivalent to it would be conceded. Plenty of the men, as I have found in conversation with them, would have been willing enough to give up the first Monday in each month if they could have come to some arrangement for an annual holiday somewhere, equivalent to it, or for two or three days at certain periods of the year. I take it that their unanimous resolution in favour of the retention of Mabon's Day yesterday was intended as a basis from which to treat with the masters for some arrangement in substitution of the monthly Monday. It is for this that they have been strenuously fighting all day long. They have fought, however, altogether in vain. "Mabon," deeply conscious of the necessity for mitigating the disappointment of the pit-men, is said to have pleaded with the employers in the most moving terms for some concession to go back to the men with, impressively warning them that without it this could not possibly be a lasting peace. He pleaded to no purpose, however; not the slightest concession has been made; and after a gallant struggle the Provisional Committee have accepted the pit-head terms, with the addition that has already been explained. It has been a most deplor- able struggle, and there is no denying that the masters have proved the stronger of the two. Un- fortunately, as I believe, they have used their strength in a harsh and ruthless way that is not likely to be soon forgotten. At the same time, it should be borne in mind that it is not altogether a triumph of their strength. It is to a considerable extent due to the good sense and reasonableness of the men and their leaders that they are giving in now, and not because they are absolutely unable to hold out longer. They might certainly go on for another month or two if they would, but their com- mon sense forbids what passion and rancour would suggest. They see that winter is approaching, that credit is exhausted, and that further obstinacy must entail deplorable suffering on themselves and others, and, like strong and reasonable men, they have yielded to the inevitable, while as yet they feel quite equal to further endurance. They have not fought for nothing either they came out with 121 per cent. —they arc going in on lit. They have certainly got some recognition of the principle of a minimum, and they have shown, unorganised and totally without funds as they were, a power of endurance and resistance that cannot but have contributed to the respect with which the Associated Coalowners will henceforth regard them, while they have gone already a long way towards the formation of a strong union among themselves. I TERMS OF THE AGREEMENT. It appears that four out of the sixteen workmen s representatives declined to agree to the owners' terms, and refused to affix their signatures to the agreement. The following official report of the proceedings was supplied to the Press by Mr Gascoyne Dalziel, the Coalowners' secretary The joint meeting of the Employers' Emergeucy Committee, adj ourned from Saturday last, was re- sumed at eleven o'clock on Thursday morning at the Coalowners, Offices, Cardiff. Sir Wm. Thos. Lewis again occupied the chair, and Mr Wm. Abraham, M.P., the vice-chair, and there was practically a full attendance of representatives, on both sides. As the outcome of a very full discussion and frequent adjournments, so that both sides might thoroughly consider the various proposals put forward, the fol- lowing agreement was entered into and signed as a settlement of the dispute, and providing for the resumption of work at the Associated Collieries as and from to-day (Sept. 1st) "Memorandum of agreement made the 1st day of Sept., 1898, between the undersigned [here follow the names] and other persons who shall execute this agreement duly authorised to act on behalf of the members of the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coal Owners' Association (hereinafter called the employers) of the one part; and the undersigned [names follow] and other persons who shall execute this agreement, duly authorised to act on behalf of the workmen (excepting enginemen, stokers, and outside fitters) formerly employed at the collieries of the members of the Association, of the other part 1. It is agreed that work shall be resumed at the Associated Collieries as on and from the 1st day of September, 1898, upon the following conditions "'2. The terms aud conditions of the sliding scale agreement (known as the old scale), which terminated upon the 31st March last, shall, together with Clause 3 of the agreement of the 17th February, 1893, be embodied in an agreement which shall con- tinue in force until the first day of January, 1903, and may be determined by six months' notice on cither side, to be given on the 1st of July, 1902, the 1st of January, 1903, or any other following 1st of July or 1st of January 3. The monthly holiday known as Mabon's Day shall be abolished, and no other holiday of a like nature will be permitted. 4. The wages payable up to the 30th November, 1898, shall be 17.V per cent., above the standard of December, 1879. 5. An audit of the selling prices shall be taken for the two months ending 31st October, 1898, to regulate wages as from the 1st of December, 1898, in accordance with Clause 12 of the 1892 agreement. 6. If, after the 1st day of September, 1898, the employers, by virtue of this agreement, reduce the wages of the workmen below 121 per cent. above the standard of December, 1879, the workmen shall have the right of giving six months' notice to terminate this agreement on the 1st day of any January or July next ensuing, notwithstanding clause 2 of this agreement.' Subsequently a special general meeting of the Coal-owners' Association was held at the offices of the Association at Cardiff, when Sir William Lewis, the chairman of the Emergency Committee, pre- seoted a report to the Association upon the discussion which had taken place, and submitted the agreement which had been entered into. The report was adopted, and a resolution expressing approval of the action of the Emergency Committee was passed unanimously. The agreement was unanimously ratified. An official version of the Conference has also been supplied by the Workmen's Provisional Committee. The nature of the proceedings is sufficiently indicated by Our Special Correspondent. It is stated that the following was agreed to by the Employers' Emer- gency Committee: It is understood that all the workmen shall be reinstated in their former em- ployment, as far and as soon as practicable. "-Daily sew4.

On to Khartoum. 1 -i