Great Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on Mines.

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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that represent practically all the deputies in the county of
Durham ? — About two-thirds of them.

24397. Is the other one-third outside your Association,
or have they an Association of their own T — Some are in
the Miners' Association, and some are outside altogether.

24398. You, however, represent the majority of deputies
in the county of Durham ? — ^Yee.

24399. You speak not only for yourself, but for the
Association ? — I speak for the county .

24400. You say that no deputy should be allowed to
fire shots whilst having to follow his ordinary duties at the
face. Some deputies that have small districts and can get
through their districts without taking up the whole of their
time, are sometimes occupied on other work from time to
time, and it is that you object to, or is it only to shot
firing ? — ^We object to any shots fired during the day by
deputies. Where a deputy is not fully employed in looking
after his men at the face there is another kind of work
assigned to him, ordinary shift work, or any special timber-
ing. He has this to fill up his time, and where a deputy is
fuUy employed he cannot, with that safety necessary to
himself and the men he has to fire shots for, attend to this
duty too.

24401. You do not object to a deputy doing various
duties in connection with the mine that do not affect the
safety of the miner. His first duty is to do everything
necessary to ensure the safety of the mine ? — ^Yes.

24402. In addition to that, where he has a small district
it is usual to take a part, on behalf of the management,
in the working of the mine, that is, to look after the trams,
and so on ? — ^Yes.

24403. Do you object to that system ? — ^Wo do not
object to anything except the shot firing.

24404. Do you object to his being obliged to look after
shot firing ? — Nothing apart from the shot firinff. We
simply object to the shot firing.

24405. Why should you object to the shot firing more
than other kinds of duties that take up his time ? — ]&cause
we regard shot firing as being a more dangerous work
than the ordinary timbering or making places ready in
connection with the working of the districts, and a very
slight mishap on the part of the deputy might lose hk life
and those he is firing shots for.

24406. You consider that the deputy as shot-firer should
on all occasions be different people, or that tJie deputy
should have certain times assigned to him for looking after
shot firing, and that he should have nothing else to do
during those hours ? — ^We think that there ought to be a
specitd class of men appointed as shot-firers.

24407-8. Quite distinct from deputies ? — ^Yes, apart
altogether from deputies.

24409. Then you say when a deputy has made
complaints respecting over-work through having too
large an area and number of men, and gets no redress from
the management, that he should have power to appeal
to the Inspector of Mines for the district, whose decision
shall be bin(ting. You propose that the inspector,
if appealed to by a depuly on the groimd that the district
is too large and that the deputy cannot do all that he ought
to do, should have power to call in the Inspector of Mines,
whose decision shall be final 7 — When other means have
failed. First of all he must seek redress from the manage-
ment, and if he and the management cannot agree as to
what is reasonable for the deputy to do, then as a final
r^dsort he should call in the Inspector of Mines to say whether
ihe deputy has too much work or not. There is a general
complaint throughout the county now in consequence gf the
large area the deputy has to traveL The districts are so
wide, and the number of men to follow so many, tiiat it is
practically impossible to follow the men to do justice to
them and with safety to themselves.

24410. Can you not put those instructions before the
Inspector of Mines now and get him to suggest to the
management when he considers these districts are too large 7
— The law does not give us any power to do so.

2441 1 . You can make any representation to the Inspector
of Mines you like if it concerns the safety of the working
of the mine. It would be open to you to make any com-
plaint to the Inspector of Mines, and he might make any
representation he thought fit to the management:
whether the management would be bound by it or not
is another matter. Section 42 of the Coal Mine^ Regu-
lation Act says : " If in any respect . . . any in-
spector finds any mine, or any part thereof, or any matter,
thing or practice in or connected with any such mine, or
with the control, management, or direction thereof by the
manager to be dangerous or defective, so as, ia his opinion,
to threaten or tend to the bodily injury of any person, he
may give notice in writing," and so on. He may go
further than that. If remedy is not applied immediately
he can report to the Secretary of State. You say he ought
to have further powers, and without reporting to the
Secretary of State that he might be empowered by law to
compel managers to do anything he thought right in the
re-arrangement of districts 7 — Yes, that is our position.

24412. Then you say that no person for any cause
whatever should have power to call a deputy away t
from the district over which he is in charge, except
the person in charge of the mine for the time being, i
I suppose nobody could have the power to compel a deputy I
to go away from a district of which he is in charge except \
the under-manager or anybody in charge of the mine 7 —
We want to have that made very explicit and compulsory.
It is common now in small districts where there is not
sufficient work for a deputy to do, to give a deputy certain
duties to do outside of his district altogether, such as shift
work, which would take him away from his district.

24413. It is only the under-manager who does that 7—
The management in some instances. In the event of
anything going wrong with the working, supposing there
was a stoppage of work outside the district of which the



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deputy has charge, it is a common occurrence for a trolley-
way-man or any man immediately concerned with that kind
of work to immediately call for the deputy, and if he does
not go at once he has to give an account, and often he
has to leave his men imsatisfoctorily provided for. Our
Association wants something to prevent this being done»
and they want a deputy not to leave the district over
^ich he has charge, unless the orders come direct from
the person in charge of the mine at the time, either the
under-manager or the manager.

24414. He is not bound to take any notice of orders that
do not come direct from the under-manager or the manager ?
— He is sometimes not pleasantly treated if he does not
do it.

24415. Then you advocate the prevention of deputies
drawing timber during working hours at 1 he face. Do
you mean that all timbering should be done between
shifts ? — Yes. We want the same thing as to shot firing.
We want deputies to be relieved from timber drawing
altogether, and to have timber drawing set apart just as
shot firing. I think you will se6 the necessity for that :
in the longwall working, particularly, it is the duty of the
deputy who has charge of the district in every shift he
goes round, to go into the face where the men are hewing
occasionally, and the tubs are going in and out, and where-
ever that noise is eoing on it is not safe for him to do so.
In the next place it is not safe to the men left working
in the face after the deputy has left, because it is a common
thing, after he is the*'e with the wall behind the packs, for
these places to close up. The men complain daily, but the
management insist upon the timber being taken out, and
we consider, in the interest of the hewer and for the better
protection of the deputy, that this ought to be done
apart from deputy work, done, say, at night.

24416. It has been suggested to us in some cases that it
is so danfl;erou3 to draw the timber that it ought not to be
drawn at all ? — There are cases where we consider that it
ought not to be drawn ourselves. In any case it is very
unsafe for a deputy to have to draw timber while the men
are filling coal in the tubs with their shovels, and the tubs
going in and out. He cannot hear any warnings, and after
he has left the face there is danger for the men to be working
until the place has got really settled. Not only that, but
it is not an uncommon thing for there to be a blow of gas
after there has been a lot of timber drawn.

24417. With regard to your 25 years* experience as a
deputy, where have you had it ? — At Westwood CJolliery,
that one colliery alone.

24418. Before t^at did you work at any other colliery ? —
I did six months' deputy work at Bumhope CJolliery before
I went to Westwood, but I do not take that into account.

24419. The whole of your experience has been at West-
' wood ? — Yes.

24420. (Mr, Enoch Edwards.) Would yon mind defining
^ to us the duties of a deputy ? — ^The duties of a deputy are

to examine all the main roads, intakes and outlets, and
follow his men in the face, to see that all his refuge holes
are kept clear, supply his men with a proper supply of
timber of the right lengths, and anything that tends to
the general preservation of the hewers' life, and everybody
under his charge, and also when he leaves him to leave him
in a position that he will be able to keep himself safe.

24421. Besides the manager, the under-manager and
the deputy, have you firemen now ? — Shot-firers ?

24422. Yes ?— No.

24423. The deputies do all the shot firing ?— The
deputies do not at our colliery.

24424. Who would do it ? — The stonemen fire them
themselves. There are no shots fired at our place.

24425. Ordinarily who would fire when shots are fired ? —
If there were any coal shots to be fired, do you mean ?

24426. Yes ?— The de^ ty would either fire them, or
some of the stonemen, who had a licence to fire them.

24427. Licensed shot-firemen ? — Yes.

24428. Any man having such a licence would fire the
shots ^— Yes.

24429. This suggestion of yours that no deputy should
be allowed to fire shots whilst having to follow his ordinary
duties at the face applies to your county, and not to your
particular pit ? — Yes, we represent the county.

24430. You have had these questions before yon as a
body, and have considered them as a whole ? — Yes.


24431. You have come to the conclusion that where
shots have to be fired the deputy should not be called
upon to fire them while following his ordinary duties, but
if they are to be fired at all that there should be a special
man to fire them ? — Yes.

24432. When you say that no person, for any cause
whatever, shall have power to caU a deputy from his
district, if the under-manager or the manager does not
call him away, who does ? — In some cases it is the trolley-
way- man.

24433. The manager of the pit, first of all, is the general
officer of the colliery ? — Yes.

24434. The under-manager is the next ? — Yes.

24435. There is nothing between those two and the
deputy ? — ^No.

24436. Who has power to call you in the absence of the
manager or the under-manager ? — Nobody has power,
according to the Act.

24437. In practice who has power to call you ? — Nobody
has power in practice, but it is a practice that is carried
out nevertheless : they have not the power to do so, but
they assume the power.

24438. (Mr. RcUcUffe EUis,) Who is it ?— There are the
trolley -way men who are in charge of the districts. Sup-
posing a driver goes off a long way with a load of tubs,
and it is not convenient to attend to them at the time, he
will send for the deputy to come and put it right. If the
deputy does not come he is taken to task by either the
manager or the under-manager for not seeing that the
work is being got on in his district. We want to have it
that that man shall not have the power to send for us.

24439. (Mr, EtiocH Edwards.) I want to get to the bottom
of this. There are only two people above you in the mine,
the manager and the under-manager ? — Yes.

24441). Do you suggest that other people may order you
about ? — Yes. I suggest that is a county practice.

24441. This man has no control over you ? — According
to the Act he has no control whatever.

24442. Get outside the Act for the moment. In practice
would he have power to employ or discharge you ? — Not at

24443. You are not under his control ?— Not at all.

24444. How does it come about that you are called
upon to obey his orders ? Have you had that instruction
from the manager ? — It is the practice in the county.

24445. I understand that, but yon have had instructions
from the manager or the under-manager that you must
obey this man if he calls you to put a load of wagons on
the road ? — ^Not in the particular colliery, but it is a
county complaint that that is so.

24446. That the under-manager or manager has given
instructions to the deputy to obey this man's orders 7 —
To obey anybody's orders to get the work out.

24447. Hardly anybody's orders ? — Anybody who is in-
terested in getting the work out — anybody that has any
charge in the pit at all.

24448. (Mr. RatcUffe EUis.) Somebody says to you that
.the things are off the road and it i? blocked, and you
consider that you must get it open or the whole place
will be stopped. If that happened, the manager would
come and say " Why does this happen ? " — Yes.

24449. (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) It happens in practice
that besides the manager and under-manager, other people
call for your services for an3rthing they like 7 — Yes.

24450. That you object to ?— Yes.

24451. You think you have strictly definite duties to
attend to ?— Yes.

24452. All those duties tend to the safety of the men ? —
Yes. I may say this, we do not object as ffr as we have
time to do it, but we object to be called away from the
face when we have duties demanding our attention at the

24453. You suggest that some of the districts having a
very large area to get over are bigger than you can get
round ? — Yes.

24454. And that already you have more work than you
can attend to 7 — Yes.

24455. You suggest in addition to that, although you
have more work than you can do, it is open for the trolley-
way -man to fetch yon from the work you are alreaay
overburdened with, to do other duties 7— That has been
the practice.

Mr. Janies

26 June 1907


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MINUTES OF evidence:

Mr. James

24456. Is it a common practice ? Does it happen often ?
— It is a very common practice in the county.

36 June 1907 24457. What steps do the deputies take in this pit to
— remedy it ? — ^They appeal to the mafiager or under-manager

to be relieved, but this is where the dissatisfaction comes in
between us and the management. The manager contends
that we have not over much work. The deputy contends
that he has over much, and hence the dispute arises between
the parties. Who is to settle it ? We consider that it is
time to call in the inspector to say.

24458. You heard the Chairman read out the copy
supplied by Mr. EUis of the paragraph relating to the
powers of an inspector ? — ^Yes.

24459. Has it ever occurred to you as a body to make
representations to the inspector ? — ^No.

24460. You have not done it ?— No.

24461. What has been your reason for it ? — ^We have not
had «any particular reason, I daresay, for it.

24462. Have you thought, for the time being, imder the
law that he had no such power ? — We did.

24463. You think that may be the reason why you did
not ? — We thought his powers simply allowed him to make
a recommendation, but that he had no power to enforce his
recommendations. We want the inspector to have power
to enforce what he believes is reasonable.

24464. If it is a question of the inspector deciding what is
a fair amount of work for a deputy to do, you may be right
— I mean as to what he is capable of doing, or ought to do.
What you want to put before the Commission with regard to
safety is, that when you are in charee of these men at the
face you should not be drawn away nrom the work, thereby
seriously affecting the risk to the men who are working
there ? — Yes.

24465. — With regard to the prevention of deputies
from drawing timber during working hours at the face ;
that is a part of the deputy's duty, to draw timber ? —
X es.

24466. It is not a part of the collier's duties ? — ^No.

24467. Or to set it ?— Except for his own safety.

24468. In your absence, if there is a place dangerous, he
has to put it up ?— Yes.

24469. Drawing he has nothing to do with ? — ^No.

24470. Are you compelled to draw all this timber ? — It is
possible to draw it. We are frequently found fault with
because it is not cleaned. It is to the advantage of the
deputy and coal-hewer and the colliery on the whole, if the
timber can be cleaned.

24471. That is the proper management of the face of
coal T — Yes.

24472. You complain of drawing timber during working
hours T — ^Yes.

24473. What is there to prevent you now leaving drawing
that timber until the pit has done T — ^There is nothing to
prevent it that I am aware of, if we were allowed to do so.
It could be left and done at nights.

24474. Have you ever put that question seriously to the
management ? — We have suggested it, but we have never
tried to enforce it. We have never put up props sufficiently
strong, but we have suggested to the management on more
occasions than one.

24475. You suggest to the management that there is an
element of risk in drawing this timber while working ?
What is their reply to that ?— Many of them consider thit
there is no risk. They think it can be done quite easily, and
that there is no psirticular risk.

24476. In those cases have they seen the working Caces
themseiveB ? — ^Yes, they travel the face.

24477. The under-manager ?— Yes.

24478. Does he travel it every day ?— They travel
different districts.

24479. The manager does not travel it !— Yee,

24480. The under-manager travels it every day T — ^Yee,
one part of the district one day, and another part another.

24481. In merely travelling through a ooal face, is it
possible for the deputy to know of his own knowledge the
seriousnesB of drawing those back timbers unless he looks 7
— ^The under-manager, do you mean t

24482. Yes 7 — If he looks he oannot do otherwise than

24483. In going through the fiices would he make it his
business to look at the back timber ? — ^Invariably he should;
I could not say he always does it.

24484. It is included as part of his duties that he should
do it 7— Yes.

24485. It is a question of his judgment against yours— !/«/
that is the position 7 — Yes. r

24486. Are you asking that the inspector shall decide the
point between your judgment and that of the under-
manager ? — ^In the case of timber drawing we do not ask for
the intervention of the inspector. We ask it to be binding
that the deputy shall not draw timber during the day,
hence it does not require the intervention of the inspector
at all

f^ 24487. There are no physical difficulties in the way of
drawing this timber after the shift is done 7 — I am not
aware of any. I might say in the drawing of juds, where
they are not working longwall but board and pillar, that
the jud comes off during the day and stands till night. It
is sometimes to clean to get to the next place the next
morning. It might interfere with that, but that could be
overcome by the shifter going in a little sooner and getting
it clean and drawn, and tiiere is any amount of time to get
ready for the next morning.

24488. In following out your duties what you have to say
now has reference to the coal face 7 — ^Yes.

24489. Who is responsible for timbering the roadways —
the deputies 7 — ^Yes.

24490. That is part of their business, to see that the
timber in the roadways is good 7 — ^Yes.

24491. If it had to be replaced with fresh timber they
would have to do that 7 — ^Yes, all places leading to and fro
where the men are working.

24492. You do not suggest that comes in the same
category as being done after the pit is finished 7 — Any that
is dmwn ; but the setting of timber we do not ; just the
drawing of timber.

24493. You have to replace timber in a main road even
that is broken down 7 — ^Yes, if the timber gets broken.

24494. The deputies do that 7 — ^Yes, they could not do

24495. Is that done during the working of the pit 7 —
In some instances where it is not safe to go all day, but if,
in t^e judgment of the deputy, the pla<!e is safe to go tiU
night, it stands over and the shifters do it at night.

24496. They would be under the charge of the deputy 7 —
There is not a complaint against a deputy for it.

24497. The shift would be under the charge of some-
body 7 — Under the charge of the master-shifter, and they
have a night shift deputy.

24498. The master-shifter would have authority to do it.
He is selected for that office because of his capacity 7 —
What work we do is done during the day, and the master-
shifter at night instructs the shifter to do it.

24499. T should like to ask you a question with refer-
ence to certificates for this class of men. Is this a matter
you have discussed between the deputies, that they should
hold certificates of competency 7 — ^It has not been a ques-
tion of open discussion at our councils, but the thing has
been very much discussed, I daresay, locally throughout
the county.

24500. Do any of your deputies hold seoond-olaas cer-
tificates 7 — ^Not a great number, but a number do — ^not
such a large number.

24501. Do you think it advisable that this class of man
should have some certificate of competency 7 — A second
class certificate, do you mean 7

24502. Yes 7 — ^I daresay that is the feeling generally
hroughout the county by the deputies.

24503. A certificate that would warrant a manager in the
belief that the deputy was competent to discharge all those
duties 7— Yes.

24504. That m, that he must have had considerable
practical experience and practical knowledge, and ob-
tained a certificate. There is no difficulty in the mind of
the man who employs you when you understand the work 7
— ^Yes, and, I daresay, that is the general feeling of the
county, that Uiat ou^t to be (he c

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" 24505. {Mr. Ratcliffe Ellis,) Ifl this Deputies* Association
an association apart from the Miners' Association ?^Y66 :
it seceded from the Miners* in 1875.

24506. You have an association of your own ? —Yes.

24507. You have had a meeting of your members to
discuss the questions that have been submitted to the
Commission ? — ^Yes.

24508. The answers you have given to-day do not apply
to yourself particularly ; for instance, you have no shot-
firing ? — ^They do not apply, individually, to our colliery,
but they apply to the county at large.

24509. So far as shot-firing is concerned, that does not
apply to you, because you have no shot-firing at the face.
With reference to the complaints of over- wort is your own
district too large T — ^I could not say that we are labouring
so much under that just at present, but the woik varies.
The districts worked vary occasionally, and sometimes
they are overtaken by faults, which require the men to be
shifted, so that at one time you have an over-large district,
and a fortnight or so after that you are in your normal
condition again.

24510. Take your own case : have you had any com-
plaint ? — At present we have not.

24511. Have you had times when you have had too larga
a district ?— Yes.

24512. What did you do then T — ^I appealed to the

24513. What was the result ? — ^I daresay, in most of the
oases, if not aU, we have got redress ; but all managers are
not alike.

24514. As far as your own personal experience goes,
where you have found the district too large and you have
complained, it has been redressed T — ^Yee.

24515. With regard to persons oallinff upon you away, is
it part of your duty to see that the roads are kept clear 7 —
Not according to the Act.

24516. But according to your agreement with your
employer T — There is no agreement entered into, that is, in

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 44 of 177)