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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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others can. That is putting in the Report Book.

27994. If they put in the Report Bock that there is
something wrong, and they want it put right, they are
told if they cannot work somebody else wul do it ? — In
many cases that is so.

27995. Have you ever had complaints from your mem-
bers that they were not supplied with the wherewithal to
keep their engines in a proper state, such as packing ? —
Yes, many a time.

27996. That handicaps the engine-winder, too 7— Yes.
It is quite a common diing to look for packing in other
places.

30



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MINUTES OF EVIDENCE !



Mr, 27997. How is the examination of ropee, sides and shaft

R» Shirkie. made ? Is it a thorough examination as you understand

— it is made to-day ? — I loKolieve in some cases it is thoroushly

17July,1907 done.

27998. Is there fiuiy place you feel it is not thoroughly
done ? — I believe in the majority of cases it is not done at
all.

27999. The engine-winder's only knowledge of that is
that he is lowering the men who do it ? — Yes.

28000. The rate at which he lowers them makes an
examination impossible ? — Yes.

28001. Accidents may arise because of the want of that
examination being made ? — ^Yes. I have known cases
where the rope was supposed to be examined every day.
I know one case in Blantyre when the rope was thoroughly
examined there were broken wires all over the rope. It
had been going on, but it was never examined.

28002. That is a breach of the Act ?— Yes. This Report
Book is a breach of the Act, too, but this is onlv to show
that it is not looked into so carefully a*s it ought to be.

28003. There are a considerable number of mine owners
and managers in Scotland who are particularly anxious
and do their very best to carry out in its entirety the Coal
Mines Regulation Act. The complaint is that it is only
at some collieries where carelessness exists. Generally
the management are anxious to carry out the provisions
of the Act with regard to safety ? — ^I believe, in justice to
them, there are many of them anxious to keep things
straight and safe. I do not know that I can say the
majority.

28004. A considerable number ? — Yes.

28005. You do not complain of all mine managers ? —
No.

28006. {Mr. F. L. Davie.) Do you seriously say the
owners or managers are so blind to their own interests
that they do not supply the enginemen with proper cleaning
materials or packing ? — I say that is so in some cases, but
it is not in the majority of cases. It is actually the case
in collieries that they do not supply them even with waste
to clean the engines.

28007. When the man complains that his engine wants
looking to, he is told if he cannot work it somebody else
can ? — ^That is so in some cases, but I do not say that is
in the majority of cases. I say it is possible at the present
time, and is done at the present time. I have a case of
a man who was victimised at South Rigg in this district,
that is Harthill district, some years ago, for reporting a
defect of machinery in the book.

28008. Is it 20 years ago ? — It cannot be anything
like 20, because the man who writes is not much
over 20, and ho remembers it. He was victimised,
that moans dismissed, for reporting this defect of
machinery, and wanted to make sometlung out of it. He
approached the mines inspector, whose attention was
drawn to the matter, and all the satisfaction our member
got from him was that probably a solicitor would take up
the case. He was victimised, and at many of the collieries
roimd about he could not get a position. That man had
to leave the district because he reported a thing that was
actually the case. I have numerous letters here. Not
very long ago I had a letter from one who had attended
winding engines, and the engine-house was not very well
covered. He h£Mi put the brake down, but the cage was
at a seam in mid shaft, and some men got on while he was
attending to the winding migine, and the brake was
defective, and the engine went away and caused a little
accident. That man was dismissed, and he had over and
over again reported that as being the case, that the brake
could not hold the cage when there was a load on.

28009. That seems extraordinary. I should have
thought in both oases there must have been something
else we do not know of, because it seems to me against
the interest of the owner and the manager ? — It does, but
at the same time you find many strange things you are
not able to account for.

28010. You say you have no objection to the manager
teaching anybody he likes winding. Do you see any
difficulty in his doing that ? Supposing the manager has
a certificate, and certificates are compulsory, is there any
difficulty in doing that ? — ^No, I cannot see any difficulty.

28011. It would be difficult to teach them when the
colliery is in full work ?— Yes. There is a day every week
when there is no work at the colliery. At night there are
many pits where there are no men down the mine.



28012. If the manager took charge of <lis winding engine,
the man whose proper shift it was "^^^Id he deprived of
his work ? — No ; there are a great mimjP' shifts where there
is only one man during the day.

28013. You are trying to arrange for an 8-hours' shift
for three men, 24 hours for each engine ? — That is where
the pit is double-shifted. We could not ask to put three
men on where only one is required at present. The pit is
single shifted. We know single-shifted pits, that work
during the day and do not require men during the night,
and there is no engine -keeper there during the night. We
could not have three men in a case of that kind.

28014. The great majority of your pits in Scotland, I
take it, have a lot of work at night ? — That is so ; the great
majority have.

28015. You do not think there would be any difficulty
about the manager saying ** I want the engine-house to
teach somebody," and the man whose ordinary shift it
would be would be told that he was not wanted. He would
be a shift short in that week ? — I think that is rather a
far-fetched thing, because at most of the collieries there are
pits single-shifted.

(Mr. Ralcliffe Ellis.) This is a repairing shift.

( Mr. F. L. Datis.) There are not collieries in our district
in that position.

28016. At any rate if the manager wanted to teach the
man, he does not require to ask the engine- keeper, supposing
he is on duty, to allow him to do it. The manager has only
to put the man out of the mine and he can use the engine
as he likes.

28017. Your certificated engineman is not going to help
the manager, therefore, the manager has to do it when
the engineman is not there ? — No, not necessarily, he can do
it when he is there if the Mines Act is kept, that is, no
men in the mine.

28018. It all depends on the feeling of the particular
engineman at the time, as to whether he will help the
manager. It is only if he thinks it is all right that he will
help to teach this man. If he does not want to he says,
" I will not." However, I do not want to take up time
over that. I want to emphasise the position Mr. Ellis
put to you. If you have these certificates and nobody is
allowed to wind without one it must follow that these
5,000 winding enginemen in this country have the control
of the whole coal trade of the country ? — Would you say
from that that the mine managers at the present time
have control of the whole coal trade, I mean those who
must have certificates. You say they have control, but
supposing they had an Association

28019. They have not ? — I expect they wlQ soon have
one.

28020. Yes, but they have not one ? — I can assure you
they are going to have one — will they have full control
over the coal trade ?

28021-2. They are m a totally different position. Take
my manager, for instance, if I say I want you to take so
and so as a pupil he has to do it, and if he does no 1 1 get
rid of the manager ? — Do you say in Canada, South
Australia and South Africa that these engine keepers
have full control over the trade where they work ? What
is the difference at home ?

28023. If every man must belong to your ^socia-
tion who has a certificate, and no man is allowed
to wind unless ho has a oertificate, and, therefore,
belongs to your Association, it follows that you have
the control of the whole of the access to all the
mines in this country. You cannot get away from it.
surely ? — I do not think anything of the kind follows.
You must say the same thing is the case at the present
time. If we wished at the present time to mcHce the
whole of the coal mines idle

28024. {Mr. ReUdiffe EUis.) These men at the face are
not in your Association 7 — We are not afraid of these men.
You might as well say that the same argument holds
good at the present time, that we hold the whole thing
in our power. I think that is not the case, and I do not
think it would be the case.

{Mr.' F. L. Davis.) That is your opinion. My opinion
is it would be. It would be if you wished it to be.

28025. {Chairman.) What happens in South Africa.
Who has control over the men who are allowed to be
apprenticed ? — It works veiy well. If the manager asks
anyone he wishes to learn he learns.

28026. The manager has the power to say that a certain
man has to be taught and he us taught ? — Whether he has



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the full power or not I do not know, if it went to a question
of power, but it works very well in that way. When the
manager asks certain men to be taught they just learn
for the manager.

28027. That is to say, the management and not the
Association, whatever it is called in South Africa, has
control over the apprentice ? — They have not control.



I mean in this way, the management can insist
practically upon a certain man being taught this engine-
winding T — Not that I am aware of. The Association is,
practically, the same as the Association at home.

28029. In point of fact they work very amicably with
the manager, and, hitherto, tiiere has been no diffioidty
in a manager getting anybody taught 7 — That is what 1
wanted to say.

28030. (Mr, F. L, Davis,) You have told us you object
to having another engine- winder winding in the.
house a second engine which the winding engineman has
to attend to ? — Yes.

28031. That applies only to the winding engine ? —
Only to the winding engine.

28032. There is no objection to having a fan engine,
or a small electric pump engine, or an electric-light engine
in the same building as lone as there is not a winding
engine too ? — No, it only appues to winding engines.

28033. {Mr, Enoch Edwards,) There is a paragraph in
your statement : *' A mine manager can employ any man
from the street as a oollieiy engineman. In many cases,
persons absolutely incompetent." How long is it since
that was a practice in Scotland ? — There is nothing to
hinder it being done to-day.

28034. How long is it since it was practised in Scotland T
Your Union exists to prevent it happening. How long
is it since it happened 7 — Supposing that the Union exists,
I do not know that it is able to prevent it. There are some
collieries where they have oidy one pit and two men
can supply the engine there, and apart from any trouble
with the Union they can employ men where they like.

28035. There would be men who are not members of
your Union ? — Yes.

28036. Your Union is not complete in Scotland ? —
There would be at least five per cent, not in the Association.
It is more complete now than it used to be. I am speaking
of the past. That can be done yet.

28037. The case you gave of some years ago would be
a case that happened before you had a Union T — Yes.

28038. The oases you brought here would be cases
before your Society existed ? — What cases do you refer to ?

28039. You told us that a man was victimised ? — No,
we had a Union at that time.

28040. Was the Union unable to interfere ? — They
could only interfere by supporting him financially, but
they looked into the matter. I was not on the Council at
the time, but I know they looked into it, and they came
to the decision that he was victimised.

28041. That was before your Union was very strong ? —
It was not so strong.

28042. I understood you said the man was not dis-
charged for incompetency but for disobedience. He
reported something ; he disobeyed the officials or offended
them ? — He offended them by reporting defective
machinery.

28043. I must confess, with my knowledge of colliery
owners, that that is not in harmony with my view of a
colliery, that if an engineman reported a defect he would
be discharged T — I do not say that is the general thing. I
say that has been done and it could be done yet.

28044. Is it not the business of the engine-winder if
there is any defect, to report it ? — Yes.

28046. Would he not be neglecting his business if he
did not report it ? — Yes, in Scotland, at any rate, the
engine-keepers do not get proper examining.

28046. They get the same examinations eveivwhere ? —
Yes.

28047. This is rather a serious statement you make. It
is the business of the engine-winder, if there is anything
wrong with the machinery, to report it in England and in
Scotland. You say, for reporting it they discharge them
in Scotland 7 — No, I did not make a general statement
of that kind.

28048. We will take what you did say. You gave a
case of a man who was discharged from his colliery because
he reported defective machinery 7 — Yes.



28049. So that in Scotland it is possible 7— Yes, I expect Mr.

it would be possible in England, too. That case I gave B. Shirhie.
really happened. I was sent this letter regarding this case T~iqa<7

and there is no doubt about it being the case. The mmes a/juijviw/.
inspector told him that possibly a lawyer or a solicitor
would take it up.

28060. Your Society did not take it up ? - To the
extent that they supported financially the victimised
member. That is all that they could do.

28061. You did not report that to the Home Office 7
— I do not know what was done.

-28052. Whatever law we have it will be the business
of the people engaged in it to see that it is carried out 7 —
Yes.

28063. This, rather, would be a violation 7— Yes.

28064. You could not say whether it was brou^t to
the notice of the Home Office 7 — ^You mean if that was
brought to the notice of the Inspector of Mines 7

28055. This case is not within your knowledge 7 — ^No.

28056. Do you think it would happen while you are
secretary of the Association and that it would rest where
it does 7 — No.

28067. In recard to members entertaining your Society,
you give certificates of good health 7 — ^Yes.

28068. Is that rather to guard the Society for the
purpose of other funds like a friendly society 7 — It is the
provident side.

28059. It is not a question of fitness as to his position,
whether his eyesight would be good, for instance. There
is no test of eyesight 7 — I know two or three cases where
men have not been allowed to enter the winding class
because of defective eyesight.

28060. Now he could not be an engine-winder unless
sound in health 7 — ^That is so. That is the case, and
that is certainly done with a view to the funds. A man
must be a competent person to be an engine-winder before
admitted to be one in every way.

28061. I suppose all the men who are competent have
had to learn and make themselves competent. There
would have to be a period of training for afi the members
of your Society to gain that oompet^ioy 7 — Certainly,
they are generally in touch with the maahinery and so on»
and a great many of them have been wincung engines
apart from the Society altogether.

28062. I want to see if I follow what has largely taken
up the time here this morning, l^e term manager has
been used very often. Are there not engineers about all
these collieries 7 — ^Yes, mostly.

28063. Is the chief man responsible — ^not the colMery
manager, but the^ engineer of the colliery — I mean respon-
sible for all the machinery 7 — ^Yes.

28064. He would know how to work the engine 7 —
Most of them know how to work an engine.

28066. There is nothing to prevent the engineer who
understands the machinery tiaining the enginemen 7 —
In most cases I believe engineers are win<ung engine-



280^6. I will assume a man who wns a certificate as
a manager understands his business, and that an engineer
of a colliery would know something about winding engines ?
—Yes.

28067. You assume he would 7 — Yes, and they do.

28068. He would be quite a competent person to teach
anybody to wind ? — Yes.

28069. He could teach him and he would have that
degree of competency that he could take his certificate ?
— Yes.

28070. That rather shifte the ground taken up here 7 —
Certainly it does, and that is the case.

28071. He could train them 7— Yes.

28072. Supposing you said we are not going to teach
this man, there could be nothing to prevent the engineer
of the colliery teaching as many men as he liked 7 — -No.

28073. Nobody could prevent them bein^ so taught
and receiving their certificate 7 — I do not think that the
granting of certificates would give any power to the
engine-keepers more than they have just because of these
thmgs you mention.

28074. Now they do not severely exercise their power.
They work 12 hours for 6s. 8d. They do not exercise
very great powtr and claim a great share of the world's
wealth 7 — I do net think so.

30 A



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MINUTES OF EVIDENCE :



Mr,

R. Shirkie,

17July,1907.



28075. I think it rather surpriBed Mr. Ellis, that
5(9. 8(L ? — The first winding engine I went to, the manager
taught me the winding of the engine.

28076. What did you mean by saying there are more
men handled in the night ? — Instead of there being two
12-hour shifts, by arrangement between the engineman
they make one 10 and the other 14 ?— Yes.

28077. That is the enginemen's own arrangement 7 —
Yes.

28078. They could arrange otherwise if they liked ? —
Yes.

28079. They could so arrange that it would not be
necessary for one man to handle all the men 7 — It would
not make any difference as far as the handling was con-
cerned. There are more men handled in the night, because
during the day we are winding coal, and there are restric-
tions for men going up and down the shaft.

28080. I have some experience, but not of Scottish
mines; but mines in England. Take a pit where you
employ underground 1,000 men. Those are let down

the engineman and drawn up at half -past two 7 —



28081. In the next shift there are very few people.
There may be a few labourers going up and down, but a
very small number 7 — ^They are one hour or one and a-half
hours letting down the men, but I mean the men running
up and down during the night.

28082. You do not mean the quantity 7 — ^No. I mean
there is more handling of men.

28083. You put it more men handled, but you mean
running the cage oftener 7 — Yes. It may be the same
men handled five or six times.

28084. You said 90 per cent, of these men were in your
Union 7 — Yes.

28085. Further, that there is a large number of men
working at the coal face. There may be no objection to
these men at Uie coal face having certificates 7 — ^They can
go in for the certificate.

28086. You would have a competitive examination 7

28087. {Mr. BeUdiffe EUis,) They would get a service
certificate 7— Service certificates are generally confined to
men working at the trade at the time. I was in South
Ahica when they came out.

28088. {Mr. Enoch Edwards.) We need not go as far as
South Africa. Ceortificates for colliery managers in this
country when first made compulsory were given to the
first managers for the service, and they are all given for
service 7 — That is so.

28089. You do not suggest that supposing this law was
passed they should be given to the first batch other than
for service 7 Do you see how they could get over the
difficulty 7 — I do not see how they could get over the
difficulty, to start with, except it was given for service.

28090. It would depend upon what is to be the chief
grounds of examination, and what are to be the facts
considered. There aae many engine- winders sufficiently
intelligent to understand how you wind an engine, who
would not pass except the crudest form of examination,
who are good engine* winders — I mean among the older
men who wind engines 7 — I believe so ; but I think it is
conducive to the better performance of duties if a man
has a thorough grasp of all that is connected with his
duties. There is great incentive to that at the present
time. When they go to the winding they do not trouble
in many cases. I knew in South Africa an engineman



who had been 20 years winding, bS^^ he /ailed. He knew
how the steam got into the cyUnae^^ ^ut he could not
teU them how it got out.

28091. I believe we have many men with first-class
certificates managing collieries who could not get tlm)ugh
now by a long way 7 — Yes.

28092. I know cases where they would not, and I believe
it is so with regard to the engineman. You said wages
were 5s. 8Jd. for 12 hours 7 — ^Yes.

28093. Is that general over Scotland 7 — ^There are a few
exceptions where they work a 10-hours' shift, but they
are very few.

28094. The wages are 68| per cent, higher 7— Yes.

28095. What was the wage before the advance in
Scotland 7— 5e. 2d.

28096. They do not fluctuate 7— Yes. When the
miners are under 6s. a day the engine-keepers only rise or
faU by one-third ; when above 6s. a day, they only rise or
fall by one-half.

28097. The miners would take their day wage down
to 4s. 7 — It was possible.

28098. Yours was 5s. 2d., and not less 7— At that time 7

28099. Yes 7— No, about 3s. 2d.

28100. That is what I am putting to you. When the
collier's wages in Scotland was 4s., what was the wage
of the enginemen 7 — About 3s. 2d.

28101. For 12 hours 7— Yes. There was nothing else
but 12 hours at that time.

28102-11. It would look interesting on the Notes, 3s. 2d.
a day for 12 hours' work in 1888 in Scotland 7 — I think
we are safe in saying that.

28112. (Chairman.) In cases of emergency in South
Africa what do they do 7 Has there been any difficulty
to get the engine worked by a certificated man 7 — ^Not
that I am aware of.

28113. As far as you know there has not been any occa-
sion to call in an uncertificated man to work the engine 7
— As far as I am aware there has been no difficulty.

28114. With regard to health, you say in your own
interests, being a provident society, that you insist on
certificates of health when a man enters. A man may
go a great number of years as an engine-winder and may
develop some illness that a doctor may be able to diagnose
which would probably end his life suddenly. Do you
think that the men would object to being periodically
examined with a view to finding out whether their lives
were safe 7 — I think they ought to be medically examined.

28115. Any man's life the doctor said was precarious
and who was liable from the nature of his disease to die
suddenly, ought not to be allowed to go on as an engine-
winder 7 — I think he ought not to.

28116. {Mr, SmiUie,) Is that the opinion of your
members 7 — Yes. I remember one case just about six
months ago ; an engine-keeper in Lanarkshire was letting
down the firemen in the morning ; there were two cages
of firemen, and he let down the cage, and the next men
who went on to the cage had come up, and they signalled
for him to lower, and there was no answer. They went
down into the engine-house and he was lying dead at the
levers. That was heart disease ; but if that had taken
place when these men were going down it would have been
the death of the other men. It was just when he landed
the men he dropped dead. In that case I think it would
be necessary.



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FOETY-FIRST DAY.



Weibiesday, Qth November , 1907.



Lord Monks WELL {Chairman).



H. U. S. CuNYNGHAMB, Esq., C.B.
Wm. Abraham, Esq., m.p. (Rhondda).



Thomas Ratcupfb Elus, EJsq.
RoBEBT Smillie, Esq.

S. W. Habbis, Esq. (Secretary),



Mr. SA3tuEL WsiaHT RowABTH, called and examined.



J\



I



28117. {Chairman,) You are the General Secretary of
the Derbynhire and Nottinghamshire Enginemen's and Fire-
men's Union ? — Yes.

28118. Previous to holding that position you were a



Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 77 of 177)