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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

. (page 60 of 177)
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experience : he must be taught by somebody 7— That
is so.


26212. Are you aware that any didSouJty is made by
enginemen in teaching the men 7 — There are certain rules
in different societies of a stricter nature than others. The
first principle with regard to certificates from my stand-
point is this. If there was a new staff entirely wanted
to-day there are sufficient already in the field to fill those
positions. The question of learning and the methoda
adopted are only a secondary question. The first question
we want to ask ourselves from a national standpoint is
this : Will it give greater assurance that the men at the
handles are a class of people fit for that particular work 7

26213. The rule of the St. Helens Association of Colliery
Enginemen is : "A member who teaches anyone the
business of an engineman, unless he is his son or brother, or
the son of another member of the association, will be fined
not more than forty shilling." Is that a rule they have T
— Not at present ; that has been revised. You nave an
old copy.

26214. What is the present rule 7— The present system
is this; they naturally, the same as every other class of man,
cling to their own brotherhood, and give them the pre-
ference if they can. Assuming I am working at a colliery,
I may not be related to a member in St. Helens — ^I happen
to be general secretary for the county, but if I am not
related to any member and I was a winder for a hauling
engine, and there was a vacancy, their rule is this : if a
man has a preference for the job he has to be instructed, no
matter what the relationship is.

26215. Do you agree that the manager may require the
engine- winder to teach a man or teach a boy 7 — ^That has
been attempted.

26216. Do you agree that it should be part of the t
engine- winder's duties to teach anybody sent to be tauffht I
by the manager of the colliery 7 — Not exactly. My (
idea is this : if I have brains to give away, I want to have |
some choice whom they shall be given to.

26217. Do you say you are to be the judge as to who is
to be taught 7— The manager of the colliery finds the
machinery to practice on, and they like these men being
instructed because as a rule they have given them some-
thing, they have given them a trade, and they can deal
with such persons easier from the manager's standpoint.

26218. Is it your view, on behalf of your society, that you
and you alone must decide who is to be instructed 7 — ^o.
I will give you thf Wigan Association rule, if you like, on
the learning question. I think Wigan has been looked
upon as one of the most clannish and selfish class of
engine-winders in Lancashire, but they even go so far as
to make this provision, that, in the event of there being a
scarcity of enginemen, that they will confer with the colliery
manager as to who is the next best person to be

26219. Is this the rule : " No member of this association
shall be allowed to instruct any person in the business of
engine-winding so long as there are competent persons
of respectable characters who are out of employment, and
who are members of this association ; but if there are no
members out of employment, then the committee shall
have power to confer with the management of collieriea
with a view to the next best person to be learned or in-
structed. It shall be optional for a member to instruct
his son, if he deem it necessary, for the purpose of making
him a competent winder only, but a member's son shaU
not have preference of a vacant situation before a member
of this association. If it be proved on the testimony of
two witnesses that this rule has been violated by any
member (after the issue of these rules) such defaulting
member will be expelled from this association." Could a
colliery winder, as a member of your association, teach a
person sent to him by the manager who was not a member
of your association 7 — No, and a colliery manager would
have no right to do that, because when that manager is
sending a man he is giving the use of the engines, but the
engineman ought to have the control as to whom he is
going to give his intelligence to.

26220. If you had your way a man could not be taught
to qualify for a certificate unless he was a member of your
association and had your sanction 7 Then no person can
get into the mine who has not got a certificate, so that it
would practically place your association in command of the
gate of the mine? — I think that is meeting the ghost before
we get to the churchyard.

26221. Is not that the effect of it 7 — It is the possible
effect, but the very improbable effect.

26222. Supposing that scheme was carried out» you
suggest you could prevent, if you chose, a mine-owner
going into his own mine 7 — It is within the limits of men's





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capabilities to prevent mines being worked at all, for that
matter, but we are supposed to exercise good judgment
and common sense and plenty of conciliation.

26223. You have to be the power to exercise the judg-
ment ? — ^No. In my own particular case, and this is
given with all these restrictions — I knowyou have possession
of a lot of these rules at different branches, but with all
these restrictions you do not find any scarcity of engine-
winders in our county.

26224. You are the person who has to exercise his
common sense. I will put it plainly to you. In case of
some disturbance between the owner and the men you
think that you should be entitled to say whether the mine
owner shaU go into a pit without your sanction ? — It
might ultimately work into that shape under some extra-
ordinary condition, but I say that it is not practicable.

26225. Is it a reasonable thing that there should be any
legislation which might result in that ? — If I thought it
would le^ to that I would not advocate it, but I say
that it is very impiobable that it would ever lead to
anything of that sort There is the other aspect of the
question that we want to look at. You say it does not
matter to me whether the owner of the colliery thinks
the engine- winder capable oi not I insist on a man
making himself capable before taking up that position.
You have proof from an independent authority tJiat a man
is a capable and reliable man before he is appointed a
colliery manager. You say that that is giving you a better
class of colliery managers. Our contention is that it would
lead in the same direction in bringing about a greater state
of efficiency in colliery enginemen. At present a colliery
manager can put an engineman on ; it does not matter
if he has a qualification or not, if he is prepared to take
the responsibility. There are not many who will accept
the responsibility, but there have been cases where they
will, and a manager can put at the handles anybody he
thixikB fit A colliery owner cannot put on anybody he
thinks fit as a manager, because the Government say,
*'We want a voice as to whether that man is capable
or not^"

26226. Supposing there is an examination by the Home
Office to secure competency in a man, would you say
it was reasonable that the manager should be entitled
to require engine- winders to teach any person he may send
to be taught and qualify for the certificate ? — I should say
certainly the manager should have a voice, and the man
who gives the intelligence ought to have another voice,
and it ought not to rest entirely with the manager.

26227. Is the voice of the man to be " I cannot teach
this man " ? — He has or ought to have a voice in the
matter. It is the same in my business as in that of any
gentleman sitting round this table. We all please our-
selves whether we will teach anybody our trade.

26228. The engine-winders are a class of men 5,000 in
number, and they practically have the control of the
engines of these mines. You agree with that ? — ^They
do not claim to have the entire control.

26229. Supposing you say " I will not teach this man,"
then he cannot qualify. He must be taught, and if you
say that, it really places in your control the gate of the
mines of this Kingdom, an association of 5,000 people,
but there are over 800,000 people engaged in the mines,
and I do not know how many millions of capital, and you
think that an association of 5,000 people should have
a right to say whether these mines shall be entered or
not? — As far as this is concerned there is this feeling
amongst this class of men, that there has never been a
scarcity of enginemen.

t 26230. You wiU not answer my question 7 — Allow me,
we want to look at it from both sides. I will admit, for
argument's sake, that the whole control of making engine-
men would be in their hands, if that will satisfy you. It
is in their hands now without certificates.

26231. No ?— Exactly so.

26232. You say, notwithstanding that there might be
an examination by the Home Office, so as to secure that
there should be no question about a man's qualifica-
tion ? — It is the principle of an examination.

26233. Notwithstanding that there should be all that care
taken, you think you should still have the right to say
whether a man shall be taught or not ? — I contend this,
and I want to be honest in the matter. The men who have
anything to give away in the shape of knowledge ought
to have some choice in the matter, whatever vocation
they may be in.

26234. You have in your rules a payment to be made ? —
In some of the Branch Rules.

26235. That does not satisfy you ; you must not only be Mr. T.
entitled to receive payment, but have the right to decide WaUon.
to whom you would give it ? — ^That may be in some r^aA»7
instonoes, but the principal of certificates^! wish this ^« J^y> \W1.
question of learning and ths future difficulties were made

into a little less bogey than they really are.

26236. It is easy to do that by saying the manager shall
have the right to send a person to be taught on payment
of a certain fee ? — That is so, but the manager ought to
charge for his own brain and not other people's.

26237. If it is not your object to have the control of
these men, why put this difficulty ? — ^We are not wanting
to put a difficulty, and I wish to disabuse this Commission's
mind of this. In asking for certificates, it is not to create
a comer in the business of engine- winding.

26238. If that is not your object, why object to a right
to send a man to be taught ? — It becomes a secondary
question. That is the first consideration, that the nation
snould be sure that we have capable and qualified men
at those jobs, with an additional proof, apart from the
manager's choice, that they have undergone some examina-
tion, and that they have some technical knowledge.

26239. The examination question I am not disputing ?
— ^That is what it would lead to.

26240. Supposing there is an examination by some
competent authority to satisfy the men that the man is a
competent winder ; if it is not your object to make a
comer, why do you object to the manager having a right
to say to an engine- winder " You must teach this person
his business " ? You make a certain rule that there shall
be a payment of £5, and for that payment you must teach
this man ? — Take, for instance, the creation of collieiy
managers ; they claim the same right, and they charge
premiums, but still there is no comer in that business.

26241. If it is not your object to make a comer and
secure that no person shall be a winder who is not in your
association, why do you object to the manager having the
right to send a person to be taught, if he pays the fee ? —
I object to the manager having me right He may be the
manager of the colliery, but when I come on that colliery
as a practical engineman I take my brains and knowledge
with me, and I claim to have the sole control over them
as to who I shall give them to. That is my idea. I am
prepared to confer with the manager, and I wish to assure
you that we have no desire to create a comer.

26242. Your conferring would be to say, " Very well,
I shall not have him " ? — I say that the man who has the
brains to give them should have &ome choice who he is
going to give them to. In this business coUiery managers
have certificates, and it has not created a coiner with
them. The marine engineers have to pass an examination.

26243. There is no association T — ^There are associations
in both cases.

26244. No association which limits the persons who can
be taught However, we cannot get any further with
that P — No. Of course on the learning business I think,
speaking generally, that there hab been far too much made
of the difficulty which would be experienced in getting
men after they have certificates than there is any need for.
I think there would be no difficulty. It would bring about
a system of men fitting the groove they would have to filL
Now it is in a loose and disorganised Ltate.

26245. Do you think it desirable that in a Bill there
should be a provision enabling the Home Office to approve
people other than those with certificates in case any
difficulty of that sort did arise ? — I should, certainly,
allow the Home Office to draw up its rules.

26246. I want to go further than that 7 — It could draw
them up in such a state that if exceptional circumstances
arose there ought to be exceptional provision made. I do
not see that they ought to risk a man's life or even a
mouse's life in carrying out what they feel to be their
strict rights.

26247. A very limited number of men in comparison
with the great number employed in the mines might have
control of these mines and prohibit the owner getting into
his own mine ? — I think you are making rather more of
that point than what there is in it.

26248. What difficulty have you in saying by all means
let the manager send a man to be inatmcted ? — I say, by
the natural state of evolution, if this question of certificates
was looked at by the Government in a right way and as a
security for having good men, and it were adopted, the
other evil you fear most would gradually be met as they
approached it. Instead of that we are going to it direot.


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Mr, T.


26249. {Mr, Wnk Abraham,) Do you know any oaae
where the Engmemen's Society have prevented any owner
getting to his colliery ? — ^Not that I am aware of.

26260. Do you know any case where the Enginemen's
Aflftooiation have prevented a sufficient number of winding
men being trained ? — ^We have never experienced a dlffi-
oulty in all my time for men. In Lancashire to-dav»
where I am» if there is a vacancy there are generally half-
a-dozen men for the job.

26251. All these questions put to you are with regard
to things which are problematical ? — Yes.

26262. You have nothing in fact, to prove that it ever
existed ?— That is so.

26253. What time in the morning do your men com-
mence going down the shaft ? — As a rule, in our district,
they generally congnence to go down about five or ten
minutes to five, and they are going down until six o'clock.

26254. Ten minutes to five T— From ten to five they are
going down until six o'clock, as a rule. They cease to
give them lamps about ten to six, so as to have all the
men on the pit-head, and have a clear start at the coals at
six o'clock.

26255. When do they come up 7 — In our district the
hours of the miners vary slightly.

26256. {Mr, Enoch Edwards,) What do you mean by
" our district " ? — ^Lancashire.

26257. No particular spot, but Lancashire ? — ^That is
so. I happen to reside in Lancashire. I do not know
about the miners all over the county, only the enginemen,
because it is out of my province, but I know about it to
some extent. As far as the miners in our district in
Lanca^ire are concerned, they are supposed to be down
from six o'clock in the morning to four and
some up to five o'clock at night. We have collieries where
the men are going in at five and ten minutes to in the
morning, and come home at half past four and twenty to
five at night, almost twelve hours, and not ten minutes'
walk o£f the colliery.

26258. {Mr. Wm. Abraham,) As a rule nearly twelve
hours a day 7 — ^That is so.

26259. How many days a week ? — When working
ordinary time it is five days a week. Now and then they
get six. When times are bad it sinks down to two and

26260. When they work six days a week do they work
those long hours every day 7 — No. Generally on Saturday
they go down at half past four or a quarter past, and they
are coming up again at a quarter past one on that particular

26261. On that day only ?~That is so. That is what
they call their short day. Other tradesmen participate
in that.

2. What engineman puts these down in the morning,
the one who has been there from five o'clock 7 — From five
o'clock overnight : that is the custom.

26263. He will have been there, before he finishes,
thirteen hours 7 — ^That is so.

26264. The other engineman commences with the
winding of coal 7 — ^That is so. As a rule they generally
get there about five or ten to six, and commence with the
coal winding.

26265. Do they bring the day men up 7 — They bring
the day men up at night. If they came in sooner the day
man would have boi£ lots of men to deal with, and tJie
night man would have none.

26266. How is that 7 — Supposing the day man comes
in at five instead of six in uie morning to deal with the
men in a fresh state, instead of leaving it to the night man
be would have the men to let down that were going down,
and if the men were coming back by three o'clock he would
have to puU them up at the other end of his long turn.

The remedy would be worse 7 — One would be
as bad as the other. The only sure remedy is a general
eight hours' day. That is my opinion.

26268. Have you any other object whatever in securing
competent men to be engine-winders than the BafeW of
the men that you put down and take up again 7 — ^There
is no other object, to my knowledge, and I have had to do
with the leading part amongst our men in Lancashire. I
have been amongst them in an official capacity since about
1894. I h&To b^n the President of the National Federation
of Great Britain about four years, and I have been on the
Executive, apart from being President, for two years,
and in all my experience I have never heard it hinted that

it would give us a monopoly. It haa beei done with a view
to being assured that tnere was a state of efficiency, and
where that state of efficiency is we know that lives are
more secure^ and the men's reputations are batter.

26269. In order to make that more secure you think it
is essentially necessary that each eneineman should be
examined and pass an examination, and have a certificate
of competency before he is allowed to become a winding
man 7 — I think it would have a tendency to put it on
different lines and provide that reasonable efficiency which
we find increased power in engines is demanding, as pita
are going deeper and tonnage is getting greater, and
working is at higher pressure, and the machinery a man
has charge of now to look after and attend to is almost
three times as much as it was in the olden times. My
idea is to keep with the times, that it is necessary that
there should, for the future generation, be some examina-
tion ; otherwise, I am afraid, they will not have the same
excellent result shown by the present generation.

26270. Even with the assistance of improved mechanical
appliances the strain on the engineer in the work he has
to do is as great 7 — Because he has additional mechanical
power to see to, and that gives additional responsibility,
and he has to exercise additional care. His attention is
required as if those mechanical appliances did not exist,
because they have to be watched to keep them in working
order, although the results are beautiful ; but when you
see where there has been a serious calamity and these
things have come to the rescue and prevented it, that is the
beauty of the business ; but so far as relieving enginemen
of responsibility and care, I say, it will measure up to a
very small quantity in a week's time.

26271. With all the assistance of improved mechanical
appliances it has not reduced the necessity of a man being
a iSioroughly competent man as an engineer and as regards
his physical abilities 7 — ^That is so.

26272. {Mr. F. L. Davis.) Do you know any case or
cases where the enginemen have threatened to strike
because the management wanted to appoint a certain man
to be a winding engineman 7 — I knew a case where the
enginemen struck, but it was in consequence of the manage-
ment irritating them to that extent by sending a man to
every one on their jobs, which made them believe that they
wanted to make men for their jobs and turn them away.
That was in 1889, and a lot of men were put on when the
men struck, but it was under very trying conditions.
There had been a difficulty ; all the enginemen in the county
had notices to insist upon a eight hours' day, but they
withdrew, and everything was peaceably settled by every
firm except this one. This firm, I do not know whether
they wanted to play at Napoleon or not, were not satisfied
with the victory over the men and they put a man at every
man's engine, to let them see how they behaved, and
they took it in that spirit and struck. That is the only
time in my whole existence that they have tried to prevent
men learning, but it was when they were trying to learn
them in a wholesale fashion, which was against them, and
human nature rebelled against it.

26273. That was where men were put on with other men
to learn 7 — Yes.

26274. Do you know any case in which there has been
a vacancy where a winding engineman has died, or had to
leave, and somebody else was wanted for the poet 7 Do
you know any case where the other winding engineman
already there struck because the management wanted to
put a certain man to that vacancy 7 — I do not know any,
but I do not want to assume that it is impossible under
the circumstances. Wherever it has occurred it has put
the colliery management under very little difficulty in a
general sense. It may have been done in an odd place, but
I believe that they are bogies we need not fear as causing
interference with the coal trade.

26275. Taking it generally there has been very little
trouble between the management and the engine men 7 —
I think on the whole, with the exception of this dispute,
to the best of my recollection all over the kingdom there
has not been a class of men who have had less disputes
with their colliery owners, nor about the mills.

26276. I think we are all agreed there 7 — I think we can
say that for the enginemen. They have not shown that
fighting disposition, and we do not want them to.

26277. Do all the enginemen in Lancashire belong to
that association 7 — I thmk we have 90 per cent, just now,
and the others are coming in. The Trade Union wave is
bringing in these men just as the miners.

26278. When you have these long hours in Lancashire,
when do you clean your engines 7 — In some places they
have very large engines for winding from these deep seams*

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and there is a tremendous amount of polished work about
them, and the owners like to have a nice class of engine
with bright work about it. As a rule that finds the engine-
men plenty of work to do» and they are not so idle as Mr.
EUis suggested. They have to keep these things to per-
feotion. In some places they have a boy to help them,
but very rarely in Lancashire, as it is chiefly done by the
men themselves.

26279. You would work for a fortnight on day turn ? —
No, a week.

26280. Is it every week or fortnight that you have 24
hours ? — Every forUiight. You get an 18-hours' ^tem
the other week end. You go on on Monday mornmg at
six o'clock, work till five Monday night, and then ffo on at
six o'clock in the morning till five o'clock on Tuesday,
and every day right on till Saturday, and on Saturday you
oome on at six and knock off at one. You have to do what
your mate has been doing the week following, to make up
the difference in the round of the clock. You come on
every night and stop until six right down to Saturday, and
come on at one o'clock on Saturday and btay on till six
o'clock on Sunday morning. You have 168 hours to
work between you, and that time is divided in this shape.

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 60 of 177)