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MR. JOSEPH LAWRENCE AT CARDIFF.

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I I A B17TY i?ii-NIEWS DEATH.1

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LONDON LETTER. I

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A NEW SLIDING-SCALE. I

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A NEW SLIDING-SCALE. I REMARKABLE ANNOUNCEMENT ON I THE SOUTH WALES COAL THADE. A MINIMUM MAY BE CONCEDED, WITH AX ADVANCE. A remarkable article appeared in the "Iron and Coal Trades Review" of Satur- day. It was said to be "from a correspon- dent," but bore, evidence that it wa' written by someone well acquainted with the condition of the South Wales coal trade. The author prophesies a con- tinuance of the prevailing "good times, and deals with what is likely to be done by the coalowners so far ahead as two years hence. The following are the mosr remarkable paragraphs in the article: "Probably at no period in the history of the South Wales coal trade has the pros. pect been so chcering as at the present time. The price of coal is steadily advancing, and there is an almost absolute certainty that this state of things will continue for months. The rice 'i the price of eoal in 1873 was soasnodic. ihe boom only lasted a short time, and, when over, prices fell more rapidly than they advanced. This is not likeiv to be the case now. as there are few colliery owners of any pcsition in South AVales v.hose books are not filled with orcier.? that will require aini(??t their entire output for months. The 1-??t Admiraity order, lcr 20'),0JO tons of South Waks steam coal, will be spread over several firms, as no one or two eoalowr.ers could execute the orders in time. Contracts also are new being offered the completion of which will extend to the end of Deccmbev, J 001. clearly showing that foreign merchants anticipate, in the near future, a still further advance in the price of coal. "The audit on Tuesday, coming imme- diately after the miners' holiday, giving all advance cf 5 per cent, on colliers' wages, making them 532 above the standard of 1879—a higher rate of waees than was paid in 1^73, when the highest point reached was .572—has caused some of the older colliers to consider whether their position will be improved by joining the Federation. There is also an abso- lute certainty of another adv.nce of 5 per cent, or more at the next audit, as the old contracts are now rapidly running out-contracts made at 1 h, and 12s. per ton to bo succeeded by others at 22s. and 23s. The present posi- tion of the South Wales colliers is not- only better than it ha., ever been. but there is every probability that at t,,? ter- mination of the present sliding-scale and)]pr sCRIp more advantageous to the colliers will he offered by the employers. "Daring the strike of 1^98, the coal- owners prepared a scale which thev offered to the men, but which the men refused to accept. This scale, which was posted up at every collierv connected with the Ion- mouthshire and South Wales Collieries' Association, offered to give 7\ per cent, on the shilling advance in the average splling price of coal, when that price was below 9s. per ton 8. per cent, on the shilling when the average price was above 9s. and under lis; 9j per cent, when the, selling price was above lis. per ton and under Vis. There the scale stopped, as there was no idca. at that time that coal would advance above 1.)s. per ton, but it was intimated that should the price of coal advance above 15s. per ton. a still higherl percentage would be given, probably 10 per cent. Had the colliers accepted the scale offered by the masters, their wages would now have been 59 per cent, above the standard so that the owners' scale w? a bettor one than that which they preferred. The rate now paid, 58J above the standard, shows that the average sell- ing price of coal during the past two months. including old contracts, was ] h. d. per ton: at the last audit it was 14s. At the next audit the average sell- ing price will be found to be over 1.)s.. and then the men under the masters' S'a le, would be paid] O} per cent, on the shilling instead of 81, as at present. "This scale will. it is stated, be again offered to the colliers when the present one terminates. The principle commends it.seif to the coalowners, and should also to the men. as a profit-sharing agreement in which the colliers partici- pate more and more ao the price of coal goes up. Among the South Wales coal- owners the claims of the Miners' Federa- tion make no impression, and, with yery few exceptions, the masters are as oetpr- mined now as they were during the strike of 198 to maintain the slidingscale intact, "At all the mcetingq recently held in connection with the Iiners' Federation, resolutions were passed that a minimum wage-rate be insisted upon in all future negotiations with the employers. To this the coalowners will not object. All the older scales had a minimum, but should the masters require a maximum, then the advantage to the collier, under existing circumstances will not be very great. ''The new South Wales Miners' Federa- tion claims to have 103.000 members out, of a total of 120,0"0 colliers in South Wales and Monmouthshire. There are, therefore, nearly 18,000 colliers who have not joined the Federation—most of thplll are old and experienced colliers—and should the present high price of coal con- tinue many coalowners anticipate that at the end of 1902, when the struggle between the Federation and the sliding- scale, it was said, would commence, the position of the South Wales branch will not be so strong as it is to-day."

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