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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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that respect.

24517. You have certain duties to perform as a deputy ?

24518. Is one of those duties to see that the roads are
clear, so that there is no block in the traffic in going along T
— ^The manager looks upon that as a responsibility upon
our part.

24519. If you are engaged at the face in your inspection,
and a messenger oomes to you to say that the road is blocked
because there is a tub off the line, you do not personally go
and put it on 7 — We go to assist.

24520. You go to see that somebody else does it 7 — ^It is
a common thing to have to go and do it yourself.

24521. That is part of your duty, to see that the place is
kept clear 7 — ^Yes.

24522. It is not anybody ordering you 7 When you get
information that there is something wrong, it is your duty
to see that the block is removed 7 — It is a part of the duty
which the manager is trying to devolve upon us, which we
are objecting to.

24523. It was rather put that somebody ordered you to
do something. At present it is your duty, rightly or
wrongly, to see that Uie roads are kept clear for the traffic 7
— We do not admit that it is a duty.

24524. You do it 7 — ^The manager looks upon us as being
bound to do it as a moral duty, but we shrink from it ; we
object to it.

24525. It may be rig^t or wrong, but at present it is
recognised as part of the duty of a deputy, that he must see
that any block in the road is removed 7 — Yes.

24526. A messenger comes to you to say that the road is
blocked and that the tubs cannot go along it, and you have
to see that it is removed. That is the position. You want
to be relieved from that position ? — Yes.

24527. |Whom do you say should be responsible for
seeing that the block is removed 7 — ^The man who has
charge of the drivers, a trolleywav-man. He ought to go,
and if he cannot manage it himself, let him get the putters
or some of the other drivers.

24528. I do not see what harm there is in sending for you
as being the person in charge. Supposing there is a block,
it is for you to see that that block is removed and traffic is
restored 7 — I have said that we do not object to do any-
thing that we have time to, but a deputy has duties in the


face that want to be attended to, and a message oomes Mr.Jamet
that he has to assist to get a tub on the line. He leaves the (*lark,
face to go back to get the work away, and in his absence ^ * ^^^
something occurs at the face. ^o June iw/

24529. Your point is that you have sufficient to do at
the face without having to see that the traffic is kept going
on the roads 7 — Yes, tlmt is our position.

24530. What have you to do at the face 7 — We have to
get all the timber for the hewers and make their places sale,
and examine the goaf edr roads are bloeked up at the I
side so that people cannot pass between the r^il and the \
side, I mean by debris t — ^No.

24629. There is always plenty of room for people to pass t •
We always see to that. There are collieries where theyv
do the same thing, but there are ioriie ^K^ere they caimot(^
do it ; they have not time.

24630. Do you consider it part of your duty to see that
is so now ? — ^Yes.

24631. In fact, the whole burden of your evidence is, you
suggest that there is too much wotk put on the d^uty

24632. And you think in the interesft of safety that that
work should be sub-divided ? — ^Yes.

24633. You think that shot firing, and t^e drawing of
timber, should be taken away from him, and that he should
not be required to see to the carrying on of traffic satis-
factorily ?— Yes, not to be responsible for it. He will do
it as far as he has time, but he does not think he should be
responsible for it.

24634. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) As to the dertaficate, what
you think is necessary, is that the man who has to be
employed as a deputy, should have given some proof of
his ability to do that work thoroughly ? — Yes.

24635. You are not concerned with whether he should
have a first-class, a second-class or a third-class certificate,
if he can prove that he is able to do tiiat work
thoroughly ? — Yes.

24636. You said, in c istinct language, that it is your
duty to see that traffic is kept going ? — The manager looks
upon us in that respect.

24637. You are doing it ?— -Yes.

24638. Is there any rule, either General or Special, by
which that part of the work is designated to you ? — No.

24639. There is no law compelling you to do what you
do outside your duties, I mean as specified by the Special
Rules ? — There is no law compelling us.

24640. You are not told, when you are engaged as a
deputy, that you are to do it ? — No.

24641. Is it the sort of thing which you have to do, and
hot discuss ? — Yes.

24642. What you object to is this, if I understand you
rightly, not that you are unwilling to do the work in the
district, but that you are obliged to leave some important
thing in your district to attend to other things outside your
districts ? — ^Yes, occasionally.

24643. You are called out to raise a tram when you are
engaged at the time doing something far more important
inside the district than that ? — Yes.

24644. If you do not do it, you are donsidered not to
have done your duty ? — ^Yes.

24645. As a class of men you want to be relieved from
that obligation ? — ^Yes.

24646. You said at your colliery that the districts you
have to examine are not too large. As a member of your
Association, do you know of districts that are considered
by the deputies to be too large for them to attend to
properly ? — I could not say what coHieries, but general
complaints have been made at our Council meetings.

24647. Do they come from men woiking at collieries ?

24648. It is fiot the case at your coffiery, but it is the
case that complaints come to your Association from men
at other collieries ? — From the representatives of Other

24649. All that you want is sufficient time, and a district
of such a size, that it will enable you to do your work effi-
ciently, as examiners and deputies ? — Yes.

24650. (Mr. F. L. Dauis.) You say that these complaints
have come to your meetings horn various collieries in your
district ?— Yes.

24651. Could you name any of the collieiries ?— I have
&aid, a minute ago, speaking from memory, that I could
not. With regard to the districts being too large, I said
that at our colliery we have got redress, but our colliery

18 A

Digitized by



Mr. James

26 June 1907


18 an exceptional colliery in the county, and the under-
manager is one of the most exceptionally reasonable men.
Appe^ to him would be successful where they would
haridly be successful in 99 other cases.

24652. If this is the only colliery you have worked at
for so many years, might that not also apply to other
managers you do not know ? — ^For the past 16 years I
have been General Secretary of this Association, and my
experience, from enquiring into cases of this kind, has
taught me that I have not come across his equal very often
— ^in fact, very seldom.

24653. {Chairman.) It might be as well, if you want to
prosecute this question of managers, refusing to listen to
complaints as to districts being too large, if you could
produce somebody who had filled the position of deputy,
and who was now in some other work and not subject to
the influence of the mine owners, who could give first hand
evidence as to anything of that sort having happened ? —
The question suggests itself to me now, is my statement
accepted or is my statement considered doubtful ? That
is the question.

24664. {Mr. BatcUffe EUis.) You have nothing to fear
from your manager ? — No, I would not have any fear with
our manager, but, as I have said, he is an exceptional
manager, and I am sorry there are not more like him in
the county.

24655. {Mr. F. L. Davis.) 1 wiU not press the witness
to give the names of the collieries or the men. You quite
unoerstand I was not disbelieving anything you said.
When a manager engages a deputy he tells hun what his
duties are ? — ^It is a common practice to do so. If there
is a vacancy in the case of a deputy the men in the colliery
are generally acquainted with what the deputy's work is,
and he is generally appointed to fill a position rendered
vacant by some other person. If there is any particular
matter the manager does mention it.

24656. He knows his definite duties and the manager
tells him if there is anything wrong in the road or anything
stopping the work he is expected to put it right. Does he
not give you general instructions ? — It was not done with

24657. Perhaps he tibought you know the work so well
that it was not necessary ? — No ; when a man is appointed
a deputy he is furnished with a copy of the special rules
and the bye-laws, -and at the same time with the licence
and the keys, and he has to understand his own duties.

24658. Generally speaking, the man who is appointed
a deputy has been worki^ for some time in the pit ? —
There are exceptions, but as a general rule that is the case.

24659. Can you give any instances of accidents that
have occurred from drawing timber during the shift ?
Your reason for wishing that duty to be taken of! the
deputy is because it is a danger to him and the other men ?
— ^We have not taken a census of that, but from the number
of deputies who have been lamed, and the number of non-
fatal accidents which we have had, and for which com-
pensation has been paid, we know they generally arise
from the drawing of timbers.

24660. During the shift ? — Yes. I am not aware of a
deputy who has been killed since the passing of the Com-

gmsation Act apart from drawing timber during the shift,
e has always been killed in drawing timber.

24661. {Chairman.) Do you mean every accident to a
deputy ? — Yes, with the exception of one deputy who
was lulled with his jack tram on the engine plane.

24662. How many have been killed or seriously injured ?
— We have generally about two during the six months.

24663. Do you mean either killed or seriously injured ?
— I mean two fatal accidents during the six months.

24664. About four accidents to deputies alone in the
12 months ? — Yes.

24665. That is in the county of Durham T—Yes.

24666. You say that there is an average of two fatal
accidents to deputies every six months ? — It will work
out about two in every six months.

24667. That is about four a year ? — Yes, but I may say
this : we have been remarkably fortunate this half year.
This six months we have not had one, and we have passed
a remark about it more than once.

24668. {Mr. F. L. Davis.) If you left the drawing of
the timber until after the shift was over would that l^ in
your shift or in the next deputy's shift 7 — It would affect
both our shifts. Neither I nor my man on the work would
have timber to draw, but it would have to be done by a
man in the night shift after the day shift was done.



24669. Instead of drawing the timber you do now you
would have it taken off your shoulders altogether ? — Yes.

24670. It would be somebody else in another shift who
would do the work 7 — Yes, and we would have more time
to devote to the protection of the men whose lives we have
to take care of all the day.

24671. We have had a number of questions with regard
to the wages of deputies in the different districts. Can
you tell me about what the wages are that a deputy gets in
Durham 7 — The face wage from the deputies in Durham
is 4s. 8Ad. upon the 1879 basis, plus the per cent.

24672. {Mr. SmiUie.) That is 40 7— Yes ; it works out
at about 68. 7d. per shift now.

24673. {Mr. F. L. Davis.) Is that his total wage 7 Is
there anything else which he may get to make that pay 7
— No. There is what we call the back bye wage when a
man is noi following his men is the face. He is working
on shift work when the pit is not getting coals, doing
repairs in the pit, drawing timber, and then he has 4s. 2id.
plus the 40 per cent.

24674. That is about £2 a week 7 - Yee, it will work
out at about £2 a week for the full time.

24675. {Mr. SmiUie.) Has he a free house and coal 7^
Yes, where we have not free houses we have rent.

{Mr. SmiUie.) In addition to that it works out at 5d.
per shift.

24676. {Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) What is the county wage
for the hewer 7 — ^I am not sure what the county wage is.

{Mr. SmiUie.) 4s. 2d., plus 40 per cent. ; on the 1879
basis 4s. 2d.

{Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) It is about the same. i

{Mr. SmiUie.) Yes, with a free house. \

24677. {Mr. F. L. Davis.) Is it your opinion that the
deputies in Durham are capable men 7 — Yes, we regard
them as being capable men.

24678. {Mr. SmiUie.) Have you any experience of
pillar and board working 7 — Yes.

24679. Is that the same olass of working as we call
stoop and room, narrow places and pillars left in 7 — 20 yard
pillars and 4 yard boards.

24680. They take out the pillars in lifts of sections 7—
Yes, 10 yards each way.

24681. They put in the timber to keep up the roof until
10 yards w cut 7 — Yes»

24682. Then they draw the timber 7 - Ye8.

24683. That is a dangerous process, the drawing of
timber in the pillars ? — Yes, that is what we object to.

24684. You require that everything should be very
quiet when you are taking out that timber in order to
enable you to hear the roof working 7 — Yes.

24685. If there was a serious neise going on, such as the
filling or running of trams you would not be sure whether
it was safe to take the props out or not 7 — Of course not.

24686. That is your experience 7 — Yes, that is my ex-

24687. Does the same thing apply in longwall working 7
— ^Yes.

24688. At the present time the deputies have to draw the
timber while the coal getters are filling the trams 7 — Yes.

24689. And getting their coals out of the back side 7 —

24690. Overtheirhead7— Yes.

24691. What you complain of at the present time is that, k /. /
even with quietness, it is a dangerous job, and it is more yY
dangerous with the noise that is going on 7 — Yes. A

24692. Because you do not know whether the roof is
working. The sounds from which the experienced man
gets his warning he cannot hear because of the present state
of the mines 7 — ^No, sometimes we have to stop the men
and the men complain about the loss of time.

24693. It is not their business i-eally 7 — ^No.

24694. You say that this timber should be taken out by
somebody at night when there are no men working at the
face 7 — Yes.

24695. So far as the deputies arc concerned, they do not
complain so much of the extra work as the danger of the
circumstances under which they are withcbawn 7 — There is
not so much complaint as to the danger as there is of over
much work to do.

Digitized by




24606. Supposing the district of the deputies was
lessened to give plenty of time to do it, they would still
prefer it being done at night when there is no noise ? — Yes.

24607. If you are correct in your figures, an average of
four deputies has been killed at this place on work for some
time past. Would you foUow that up by saying that had
the timbering not been drawn during the day the proba-
bility is that this number would not have been killed ? —
Undoubtedly, the full number would not have been killed,
but I could not say that in all cases.

24608. This can only be an opinion 7 — ^It would minimise
this loss.

24600. The danger would be considerably less if it was
done at m'ght by special persons appointed ? — ^Yes.

24700. The statutory duties of a deputy are to examine
the working faces and all the roads leading to the working
faces along which persons may travel ? — Yes.

24701. In order to ascertain whether there is danger from
any cause ? — ^Yes.

24702. That is a statutory duty under the Act T — ^Yos.

24703. Would you venture the opinion that the deputy
in collieries, especially fiery colUeries, is the most important
person engaged in the mine as far as the safety of the
workmen is concerned ? — Yes, in his examinations.

24704. As a matter of fact, the lives of all the coal-
setters at the face in a certain district are in the hands of the
deputy for the time being ? — Quite so.

24706. That, in your opinion, would justify the very best
class of men being appointed for that purpose ? — Quite so.

24706. A deputy in a fiery mine, at least, should have a
knowledge of explosive gases T — ^Yes.

24707. He should also have a knowledge from personal
experience of the nature of the roof and sides T — Quite so.

24708. It would be a wise precaution, and assist the
manager in the selection of a competent person, if it were
made compulsory that the deputy should hold a certificate
of competency ? — ^Yee.

24700. It would assist him in selection. You would not
object to it being made a second-class certificate, I mean
the present second-class certificate. He would be all the
better for that, although you do not think the qualifications
at present required by that certificate are necessary ? —
They would certainly be all the better for it.

24710. There are a considerable number of miners in
Great Britain, in Durham, amongst other places, who hold
second and some fiist-olass certificates ? — ^Yes.

24711. Who are not engaged as managers or under-
managers just now ? — Yes.

24712. You have stated that the deputies of Durham are
a good class of men. You do not doubt that, but there is
not much encouragement given to draw the best class of
men towards that employment. There is no extra en-
couragement ? — ^There is no inducement.

24713. I mean in the shape of wages, or even employ-
ment ? — ^No.

24714. I think the most important part of your evidence,
and it is very interesting, is the fact that while engaged as a
deputy lookmg after the safety of the working by timbering
or putting up screens, he may be called away to assist in
putting trams on the road that have gone off ? — ^Yes.

24715. That would indicate, in the opinion of the manage-
ment, the most important part of your duty is to make sure
that the material goes out ? — Just so.

24716. I think that is the genera] feeling of the deputies,
taking your county. I do not ask you to speak for other
counties. I think the general feeling is to make sure that
the trams will not stop ? — Generally.

24717. You would not object to being called out by the
under-manager or manager to do certain work where there
were special duties, but you are at present called out by
persons who are not in charge, I mean by the trolleymen ? —
Yes. If the manager calls us out of the face he takes the
responsibility upon himself.

24718. At present, supposing you are called away to
assist in putting trams on the road, and something went
wrong at the face in consequence of your absence, an ex-
plosion, or anything else, caused by your being taken away,
you would be held still responsible by the mines inspector ?

24719. And the Law Ck)urts ?

(Mr. Batcliffe Ellis,) As a question of law I think he
would not.

24720. {Mr, Smillie.) Supposing a troUeyman sends in
word for you that a train of trams is off the rails, and you
are called out to assist to put them on, your position is, if
you refuse to go, that it is reported to the manager or under-
manager, and he talks to you about it ? — ^Yes.

24721. He blames you for not having gone ? — ^Yes.

24722. Because for the time being the work is not going
on?— Yes.

24723. Supposing you go out on the next occasion after
being sent for by the troUeyman, and something goes
wrong at the face, you would be held responsible ? — Yes.

24724 Because it is your duty to look after the safety of
the men at the face ? — Yes.

24725. The mines inspector and the Law Courts would
hold you responsible for that ? — ^Yes.

{Mr, RcUcUffe Ellis,) I could not assent to that proposi-

{The Witness,) And a little further.

24726. {Mr, Smillie,) Yes, I was going a little further,
and say that in Court your duties would be quoted from the
Act of Parliament against you ? — ^Yes.

24727. Would you not be told that you were not bound to
obey the orders of the troUeyman ? — That ia our position,
and that is what we object to. In the event of his coming
out, I mean, a boy or a troUeyman, and the inspector of
mines coming in and finding the district without the charge
of the deputy, the inspector considers that he has authority
to demand his dismissal

24728. As a matter of fact the position of your deputies
and your own position is that they should be confined to
their statutory duties under the Act ? — ^That is our position.

24729. And that they should not be requested to do
work of that kind unless they are ordered to do so by the
manager or under-manager for the time being ? — ^Yes.

24730. So far as your own coUiery is concerned, have you \
any complaint to make that the districts are too large? — ;
Not at present. i

24731. I want you to speak, if you can, from your per- i
Bonal knowledge or what you can prove. Do you know
any districts in Durham in which it would be a physical
impossibiUty for the deputy to thoroughly examine his
district under the Act ? That is expected under the Act ?
— I could not speak of any.

24732. From personal experience ? — ^Not authoritatively.

24733. You have not been in charge of a district which
you could not examine within the two hours of the Act ? —

24734. And aU the roads to and from the faces ? — Yes,
travelling in one and out the other aU the way.

24735. Do you know whether the workmen in the colliery
where you are employed are so weU acquainted with the
escape shaft, so that if anything went wrong where they
usuaUy ride, they would be able to find their way to the
escape shaft ? — ^Is that in relation to our own coUiery ?

24736. Yes, at the present time ? — ^We have several day
holes, drifts out of our pit. There are any amount of
holes out of that.

24737. Your coUiery must bo exceptionaUy placed for
that ? — We are very near the surface.

24738. What is the depth ?— 22 fathoms to the bottom

24739. That is very shaUow ? — ^Yes. AU our seams run
out close to the bank.

24740. That would be rather exceptional. Is yours a
naKed-iigtii cosiory ? — ^Yes : we have no lamps.

24741. Do you know whether or not, as a general rule,
the workmen are so weU acquainted with the whole of the
workings of the mine that they could find their way to the
escape shafts ? — I could not speak for other collieries.

24742. You are not aware of that ? — ^No.

24743. I am astonished at the statement you made to
Mr. Ellis, when you said, if a deputy was dismissed by a
manager without any apparent cause, unless he could give
good reasons for dismissal after giving the fortnight's
notice, he would appeal to the Law Courts. Is that so,
reaUy ? — We have not an agreement to that effect, and
there is no law to that effect, but I understand we would do

24744. I understajid that your Association would protect
you in a case of that kind. I, with Mr. Ellis, am astonished
to hear that you have any appeal to the Law Courts, or

Mr. Jaynes


26 June 1907

Digitized by




Mr. James


that you would think of it. Mr. Ellis and I are of opinion
that a colliery manager may dismiss a deputy, or even an
under-manager, by giving the ordinary fortnight's notice.
I understand that the Association, of which that person is
a member, would protest as strongly as it could that the
manager should give some reason for doing so, and might
bring a colliery out on strike to prevent it being done.
Have they any appeal at law ? — My position was this : we
would test an appeal case.

24746. You have never done so ? — ^No.

24746. (Mr. F, L, Davis.) He also said it was the custom
in the coed trade that a reason should be given. — ^My answer
to the question was this : In the case of a deputy being
dismissed, and we could not get him reinstated by a local
appeal to the manager, we should then take the case to the
coal trade, to the owners, and invariably we have got redress
there. Taken in its worst form, as l^lr. Ellis was putting
it, in the event of not getting redress I said we would take

24747. {Mr. SmiUie.) You would appeal beyond that to
the Law Courts T — ^Yes.

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