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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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of your Association who is going to bt- taught ? — We
get the consent of the manager.

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27&70. Having got that what do you do in the engine-
house with him. Do you allow him to be with you ? —

27871. To teach him about the engine and show him
how to wind ? — Yes.

27872. That is what you will not do to a person who is
not approved by your Association 7 — Certainly.

27873. Take the case you refer to in your notes where
there is a dispute between the manager and his winding
enginemen and these enginemen left. What was the
dispute about ? — I do not know.

27874. However, they left ? — It was with the Association.

27875. Supposing that manager could not have got
anybody to wind except with the sanction of your Associa-
tion, what would he have done 7 — ^That is supposing a
case which really does not exist. This manager actually
did settle up and the men got their grievances redressed
after these accidents happened.

27876. If it is necessary for safety that the men should
have certificates, that is one thing, but would not the result
be, if no person Was allowed to wind except men who had
certificates, that they could compel any arrangement
they thought fit, otherwise there could be no access to
the mine ? — ^No, as circumstances obtain it would have
the same effect as if certificates were granted. If we had
that power you put forward, certificates would not help
us in that power. If we have it we have it without certi-

27877. It would help you in this way, there are many
men not in your Association who can wind, but if a man
is not allowed to wind without a certificate, and they could
be only got by your Association teaching people, you would
have all the people who could wind in your Association 7 —
We have mostly all in Scotland already, and if this state
of matters was the case which you have pictured, it would
be the case apart from certificates.

27878. In case it should be considered necessary for
safety that there should be certificates, would you object
to such restrictions in the Act to prevent such a thing
happening ? — ^I would have no objection to that.

27879. [Chairman.) You mean a manager can now
teach a man. You cannot prevent a manager teaching a
man 7 — No.

{Mr, Batdiffe Ellis.) There is no use in a manager
teaching him, he wants to be taught by a man who under-
stands it^

27880. (Chairman,) If the manager could get him taught
in any other way and the man was capable of passing
the examination, he could get a certificate whether a
member of your Association or not 7 — Yes.

27881. However, you are prepsured to go further than
that and say that you would not object to an Act laying
it down that you should not have exclusive control over
this matter 7 — ^I would not have any objection to a matter
of this kind, not entirely confined to ourselves and sub-
mitted to arbitration or a Court of that kind. I do not
think that is our object to get more power over this.

27882. (Mr. Batdiffe EUis.) At any rate, there should
be some provision that in such a case access to the mines
might be obtained by persons other than certificated
enginemen. There are not more than 5,000 winding
enginemen in the country 7 — I do not follow your last

27883. There are not more than 5,000 winding engine
men in the country 7 — ^The statement you made before
that I mean.

27884. Supposing the time came when the pits could
not be got access to because the certificated enginemen
would not work, a provision might be made by the Home
Office, that access should be got by uncertificated engine-
men. One clause in the Bill is that no person who was
not certificated should be authorised to wind 7 — I do not
think there would be much wisdom in going that length.
You would place men on whether they had experience or

27885. It might be necessary 7 — Of course, but that is
very improbable.

27886. You would have no objection to having pro-
vision made 7 — ^No, a provision of some kind.

27887. With reference to the time of the men at present
engaged during the night when coal is not being wound,
is there much for the engine- winder to do 7 — Yes.

27888. What has he to do 7— During the night is the
time when they repair the shafts. There are very few
places, but there are two or three other engines to attend

to. The packing of the engines has to be done during Mr.

the night ; the cleaning tc^es place during the night. ,E. Shirkie.

We have had conferences with the coalowners of Scotland, - — ■

and it has astonished me because they seem to think the 17 July. 1907.
man has nothing to do at night.

27880. There is nothmg like the strain on him as there
is during the day 7 — At n^t, having so many other duties
to attend to, I think there are more accidents than during
the day when actual winding is going on. He is attending
to other things during the night.

27890. Do you think there is the same strain in the
night when there is no coal being wound as there is in the
day when the engine is going full speed and winding coal
the whole time 7 — I believe there is more responsibility
in this way. There are more men handled at night than
during the day.

27891. You have been an engine- winder. Is there the
^ame strain at night when coal is not being wound 7 —

Yes, as far as my own experience is concern^, there was
a strain on me when I was winding men.

27892. Exactly 7 — You handle more men during the
night. There are so many more things to attend to, and
it is men, men, men all through the night.

27893. You think there is such a strain on a man 7 —

27894. You would not approve of having a longer shift
in the night 7 — No.

27895-6. Have you taken any note whether the accidents
which occur happen in the later hours of the shift of the
winding enginemen 7 — No ; my opinion is that they do
happen later in the shift, but I have not taken any note
of it

27897. You say after the hours you had to wind you
felt too done up to be quite at your best 7 — Yes, I have
no hesitation in saying that.

27898. Can you fix any time that should be the time.
You think 12 hours is too long 7 — Yes.

27899. What do you think should be the time 7—1
think it should be eight hours, three men on each colliery.

27900. Why this mention about eight hours 7 — ^It is
because there is no other practical way with colliery
engine keeping. It requires men to fill in the whole time,
therefore two are too httle, and to divide it into three it
requires eight hours.

27901. Is there no difference in the engine 7 Would
you not mckke a difference where there is a big engine
and a large output and where there is a small engine and
a small output 7 — ^I do not think you can. You cannot
do it so far as care and responsibility are concerned.
Where you have a large output you have a large engine
and you bring up so many more hutches at the time and
the engine is generally slower. It has a larger drum and
the engine goes slow. Where there is a small output and
small plant, as a rule, you get the enginemen more taxed
at that small place than the large place.

27902. In your view there is no difference in strain
whether a big place or a small place 7 — That is generally
my view.

27903. You wanted to mention in connection with
certificates for winding enginemen, certificates for colliery
managers. You look upon them as on the same line 7 —

27904. Do you know any association of colliery managers
which prohibits a man being taught his business 7 — I do
not know any just now, but 1 suppose there to be one.

27905. You have not found any lack of certificates 7 —
So far as prohibiting is concerned, I do not think there is
any difference between the certificates for windings or what
should be for winding, and for the manager.

27900. You know now, and we have heard before the
Commission that there are a great many men with first-
class certificates working at the face 7 — I believe that.

27907. There is no limitation as to the persons who may
be taught there 7 — There are a great many winding engine-
keepers working at the face who have no certificates.

27908. Are they competent men 7 — Yes, a great many
are competent men.

27909. In an emergency they could be got to wind ? —
Yes ; I believe there are very few districts but where there
are two or three dozen men working at the face.

27910. That is all right now, but if tlie law was passed
prohibiting the winding of men except by certificated
enginemen it might be very mischievous ? — If this law

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J2. SMrkit.


was passed, and it waa seen that a great mistake tiad been
made, surely they would be equal to the emergency and
pass another law.

27911. It is safer not to pass this law ?— It is easy to
put in difficulties, but at the same time I do not know
that there will ever be a limit so far as law-making is

27912-3. Will you give the name of this colliery where
this manager was left without winding enginemen ? —
Wallyford Colliery, in Midlothian.

27914. {Mr, SmtUie.) Is there any real dearth of engine-
binders in Scotland at the present time ? Have mine
managers any difficulty in getting an engine-winder at the
present time ? — ^Not that I know of.

27915. Does your Association desire to limit by this
certificate the number of winders ? — ^No.

27916. Is that your aim, or is it safety ?— Safety.

27917. We want to be clear on this ; there is a feeling
that you are aiming to get hold of the mines of the country 7

27918. Is it really for the safety and well-being of the
engine-winders that you desire a certificate ?— Yes.

27919. In the event of it being passed mto law that a
certificate of competency must be held, would you object
to engines being used in diiTerent parts of the country
for training men in difTerent parts of the country for that
purpose ? — No.

{Mr, Ratcliffe KUis,) Will you have pits, too ?

27920. {Mr, SmiUie.) Yes, at any of your present
collieries. I am asking* would your Association object
to a system of training engine- winders at any of the existing
pits outside them altogether ? 1 want to know if they
object to the making of enginemen. We do not want to
assist them in that direction. At the present time your
rules have been drawn up in order to secure competent
men ? — That is so.

27921. Had there been a law providing for certificates
of competency, those rules would not be necessary ? — No.

27922. I mean the safeguards put into the rules. Have
engine \vinders' rules tended to secure competent men ? —

27923. No attempt was made by anybody outside the
men to do that ?— Tliat is so.

27924. Would you accept a person members felt was not
a competent engine-winder ? — No, we have that in our

27925. That is the reason for this being in your rules ? —

27926. The Scottish winders, so far as you know, are
quite as capable winders as in other parts of the country ?
— Yes, we get that verdict from those who are in a position
to know them all.

27927. To a great extent you think it has been the
provision of your rules which made those men competent ?
— I am certain of that. I have no doubt, personally.

27928. At one time there was a considerable number of
engine-winders known as tramp winders. Are there still
some ? — ^There are some, but they are a diminishing

27929. That is men who are not steady men, and shifted
from place to place ? — Yes.

27930. Those men were often engaged without much
enquiry as to their competency ? — That is so ; they served
just for the time being.

27931. In addition to the accidents you mentioned, you
remember a considerably larger number than you have
dealt with here ? Do you remember the accident which
took place at Swinhill Colliery through incompetent
engine- winders ?— Yes.

27932. That was a case in which the winders were on
strike ? — Yes.

27933. An incompetent winder who had never wound
before was employea without enquiry 7 — Yes.

27934. That came out at the enquiry 7 — Yes, the cases I
have given do not exhaust the cases. It was a recent

27935. Have you known a manager held responsible in
the law courts for engaging an incompetent engine-
winder 7 — No.

27936. If an accident arises from an engine- winder being
incompetentj is not the engine- winder himself held responsi-
ble 7— He is fined.

27937. Not the manager J-^No.

27938. What are the wages of the engine- winder in V I
Scotland 7— 5s. 7d. per shift, just now 6s. 8Jd. with this U
•last rise. 'V

27939. That is seven days a week 7— Yes.

27040. {Mr, Enoch Edicards.) How many hours per
day 7 — ^Twelve hours.

27941. {Mr. SmiUie,) You do not consider that is a wage
that is likely to encourage the very best class of men 7 —
That is not. • That is the reason so many men are at the

27942. You have a considerable number of skilled com-
petent enginemen working in the face at the present time 7
— A considerable number.

27943. Earning considerably higher wages than they can
at their employment 7 — ^That is what makes them leave
the engines, the long hours and the small pay.

27944. Are there any of the collieries in Scotland at
which the hours of the engine-winders are only eisht hours
per day 7—1 think there will be three pits : but 3iis is the
thing ; that is given, but not recognised from head-
quarters ; the managers have arrived at the conclusion it
suits them better to have this.

27945. This strain on engine-winders has increased
very largely 7 — Yes, and is still increasing.

27946. .At some of the collieries the engine-winder, from
the time he starts work till he finishes, scarcely ever leaves
the handle of his engine 7 — That is so.

27947. There is not a moment that his mind is not
strained 7 — That is so. In a good many collieries they
wind two shifts.

27948. Some of your collieries have two or three landing
places in the shaft 7 — Yes, the majority of them have
different bottoms.

27949. Where they are working out seams 7— Yes.

27950. There is a different bell in the engine-house for
each of those bottoms 7 — Yes.

27951. The engine- winder not only requires to pay
attention to winding, but also four different signal bells

. from four different bottoms 7— That is so.

27952. From the mid-bottoms he must also pay atten-
tion to the signal which indicates that the gate is closed
or open 7 — That is so. That hi a part of the duty he is
b6und to do. I have known two cases where engine-
keepers were fined for that indicator being out of order
and not reporting it, not seeing the gate working properly.

27953. Do you know if there are many engines which
have the Vizer apparatus for stopping the engine in the
event of the man neglecting to do so 7 — I do not know of

27954. Do you know Douglas Water Collieries ? - No ;
I have been in the district, but I have not been in the

27955. Do you know the Vizer apparatus 7 — No.

27956. From your exx>erience as an engine-winder you
tell us on many occasions that you yourself have been
almost on the verge of causing accidents. Would you
agree if there is an apparatus that will stop an engine before
the cage went to the pulley, shut off the steam and stop
the pulley, that it should be attached to all engines 7 — It
seems to me a difficult matter. Supposing a cage is coming
up and steam is shut off, unless there was an apparatus to
apply a brake 7

27957. You do not know the apparatus 7 — No.

27958. If it was proved that there is an apparatus to
shut off steam and apply a brake and prevent overwinding
or underwinding, knocking the cage to the bottom, should
it be attached to em engine 7 — Yes, certainly.

27959. With regard to the Fatal Accident Inquiry Act,
I am concerned a bit about that. You have full power to
ask all necessary questions 7 — ^Yes.

27960. Have you power also to call witnesses 7— Yes.

27961. Hare you ever done so 7 — Yes, on one op two
occasions we nave nad witnesses. I do not understand
what you mean. The witnesses connected with the actual
accident or witnesses connected with the arrangements
of the working of these plants 7

27962. Any witnesses you have that would be useful in
bringing out clearly the cause of the accident 7—1 do not
know whether we have that power or not.

27963. The custom at the present time is that the
Procurator Fiscal is responsible for calling all the witnesses,


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and he may not call certain witnesses you might think were
necessary in order to give information ? — Yes. Not only
8 o, but in many cases the most important witnesses in that
direction have been omitted.

27964. If you had known you yourself could have called
them ? — Certainly.

27905. You get no information as to who is being called ?

27966. You often find in Court the witnesses who could
really throw the most light on the matter have not been
called at all ? — ^That is so.

27967. You are entitled to address the jury and ask
them to add something to their verdict ? — Yes.

27968. Did you do so in this case ?— No. That is the
Holdsworth case.

27969. 1 do not think any law can force the jury.
This law empowers them and instructs them that they are
not only to find a verdict that an accident has taken place,
and where, but to deal with the cause ; I mean the Act as
now amended ? — I have not seen it done. It may be the

27970. You are aware under the previous Act the Sheriffs
in man y cases tell them they had nothing to do with the
cause ? — Yes.

27971. But the Act is now amended, and puts the onus
on the jury to deal with the cause where anyone is to
blame ? — I understand that is so.

27972. You object that the jury do not do it ; they
merely return a formal verdict. You could not suggest
further powers than we have at the present time ? — I tfconk
the powers are very good. My experience, at any rate, is
that juries are often made up of men who cannot under-
stand the working of these things. I find a great difficulty
in these cases to get any of them to understand the real
working of collieries or the machinery of the collieries.

27973. Your experience is that seldom is a miner or an
engine- winder called on the jury of any of these Fatal
Accident En<iuirieB to enquire into those accidents ? — I
do not ever remember a miner or an engine-winder being
called on juries.

27974. I do not know whether you are clear on this point
or not, but Mr. Ellis put it to you would you object to
some provision being made in the event of engine- winders
having disputes, that Parliament or the Home Office, or
some other body, should have the power to put on non-
certificated winders for the time being ? Did you mean
that you were wilUng that should be done ? — I did not say
I was willing that should be done. I do not see how that
could be done to be consistent with the reason. I said I
would have no objection to some provision to be made
binding on both parties.

27975. Did you mean you would have no objection to
the training ? — Yes.

27976. You never intended to convey you were willing

that non-certificated men .? — ^No, I do not think I

said anything to lead you to believe that.

27977. You will find, when you get the notes, you did
say that, although I do not think you meant it in that
way ? — If the notes are taken properly, this note will be
taken, that I never mesuit anything of the kind.

27978. {Mr, EcUdiffe Ellis,) That is to say, under no
circumstances must there be any provision made that
other tBan a certificated man must wind at an engine? —
That is a different mattter than the way you put it before.
That was in the event of a dispute calling uncertificated
men — ^under no circumstances. An accident might occur,
the engine keeper might himself meet with an accident.

27979. There might be a dispute, the pit might be
destroyed in consequence of people not being able to wind
men up and down and look after the pumps ; the place
might be destroyed, and unless there is some provision by
which an owner can get access to his mine he would be ab-
solutely in the hands of the certificated enginemen ? — ^The
owner has always access to his mine. I do not see that we
take any unreasonable stand. If, as Mr. SmiUie put it^

i uncertificated men would be called, I think the whole thing
^ would be a sham. There would be no use for certificates

27980. (Chairman). Except in cases of emergency ? —
Yes, that is so.

27981. If the engineman suddenly fell ill, and it was
necessary, the men should be taken up at once ? — ^That
is so.

(Mr. SmiUie). You do not object to a provision being
made in a case of that kind ?

27982. (Chairman.) You would personally not object, Mr.
whatever your Association might say, to an Act of Parlia- ^. Shirkie.
ment providing in the first case in clear cases of accident ,h j V "1007
or emergency, that anyone capable of working Uie engine J7July,lW7.
should work it, and probably to some other further pro-
vision to prevent the flooding of the mine, or serious

damage being done to the pits resulting from a strike ? —
We would have no objection to provisions to be made so
that we should not have complete control, that we should
be bound by as well as the owners.

27983. (Mr. Ratdiffe Ellis.) That you should have no
control 7 — ^No control over our own labour.

27984. Yes, but I say you shguld not control other
people's labour ? — We do not wish to do it. If they want
us to teach men we have to do it.

27985. (Mr. SmiUie.) You do not want to control the
engine or the engine house, except when you* or your
members work the engines ? — That is so. We have nothing
to do with controUing the engines.

27986. You object to the manager telling you that you
must teach this person ? — Yes ; we look upon it as an
abuse, and often used in a way that is not conducive to
fairplay at all between the employer and tiie employed.

27987. What proportion of managers are capable of
winding ? There must be a considerable number ? — I
believe of those I have come across there wiU be about
20 per cent.

27988. Capable of teaching winding ?

(Mr. Ratcliffe EUis.) llie manager would not be allowed
to wind.

(Mr. SmiUie.) Unless he had a certificate.

(Wilness.) Suppose the certificate came into operation
to-morrow. I do not suppose a man would not be allowed
to do what he wished wit3x his plant, so long as there were
no men in the mine.

27989. (Chairman.) He can go down himself 1 — It is a
question of life ; it is not a question of plant.

(Mr. Ratcliffe EUis.) The Bill says that persons are not
to be put down or raised up except by certificated men.
If there was such a law in the interests of the safetv of the
property there should be some restriction upon tnat law
in the case of emergency. You agree with that. I say
that emergency should extend to cases where enginewinders
and colliery managers have a dispute, and where the
certificated men would not wind he should be able to get
somebody else to wind.

(Mr. SmiUie.) The witness objects to that.

27990. (Chairman.) There would have to be some ex-
ceptions ? — How can we do anything else except object on
the ground of unreasonableness ?

27991. (Mr. SmiUie.) There is an examination every 24
hours of part of the machinery ? — Yes.

27992. Can you give any information as to how that
examination is made ? — ^If I express my opinions — I
suppose I may ?

27993. Yes ? — I believe it is pretty nearly a sham
altogether, because those winding engine-keepers that have
to make these examinations have no time to make them
in the general run of cases. They have to report upon the
boilers and the headgear, and all these things. In many
cases, in fact the majority of cases, they cannot do anything
but run round about them, and in many cases they do net
even get a time to run round about thenu I have some
cases here sent by members complaining of that. There
is one in HarthiU district, where the engineman said he
could not examine^ and reported defects. The engine*
keepers, I believe, ought to be cleared from this. A
competent man ought to take this in hand, because many
engine- keepers get victimi.sed when reporting defective
machinery. They are told if they cannot work with it

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 76 of 177)