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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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the managers in our district, and I sometimes suggest
that wherever a rider is on a journey no man should be
employed at the engine under 18 years of age. I have
endeavoured to point out that is the meaning of the Act,
but they reply by saying that the word ** persons " means
the plural and not the singular when I say *' rider." My
point is, if it is essential to look after the interest of persons,
it is quite as essential to look after the interest of a person.
I say that where riders are on the journey all day, then
there should be a male pei*9on not less than 18 years of
age. That is the reason.

28437. If something happened there would be only one
rider. There is generally more than one ? — Very seldom
there is more than one ; he might have an assistant.

28438. This would be a very considerable alteration
of the law. You would have this competent person of
18 in many cases where he would not be required now ?
—That is rijrht.

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MINUTES OP evidence:

W. Hopkins.

6 No^l907.



2B439. (iff. Smillit.) Do you mean the managers claim
that under this rule where only one person rides,
the person in charge may be under 18 years of age ? —

2S440-1. {Chairman,) You must have somebody. The
question is whether he must be over 18.

(Mr, Smillie,) They might start a lad of 14 or 15 who
is not a competent perscxi, and hide themselves behind
the section,

28442. {Mr, Wm, Abraham,) What you simply want
is that the same protection should be provided for the
one man as there is provided for the many ? — ^Exactly.
That is my point.

28443. {Chairman,) You say that it is an important
point beoause these competent male persons of over 18
years of age are not put on except when a number of men
are conveyed to and fro 7 — I do not say that. I say at
many collieries they put men on, say 22, or 23, and some
30 years of age ; but there is a possibility, and there are
some employers who find younger lads could do it — put
these men on where riders are.

28444. Where there is one rider ? You say, generally
speaking, there would not be more than one rider ? — Yes.

28445. {Mr, RalcUffe Ellis,) That is where there is a
train of full tubs in charge of one person, a person younger
than 18 is put to manage the winding apparatus ? — ^No,
wherever you might get a strong lad of 18, if he can work
the engine, they allow him to do so.

28446. That is where there is a train of full tubs in
charge of one person ? — One or two, it does not matter

28447. {Chairman.) It does matter. It is clear if the
tubs are in charge of two persons the rule applies, and
somebody over 18 must be employed ? — ^We will confine
ourselves to one. That will answer our purpose.

28448. Bo you know as a matter of fact that the mine
managers take advantage of the wording of this rule,
and where one man alone happens to be in charge of a
number of tubs a boy under 18 is sometimes employed
IB hauling and looking after the arrangements ? — Yes.

28449. {Mr, Ratdiffe Ellis,) Can you say where that
is ? — I should not like to specify, especially in the large
collieries where a number of enginemen are concerned.

28460. {Chairman.) You know, in pomt of fact, where
one man rides in these tubs and the mine managers say the
plural is used, and consequently it is only one man and
tins rule does not apply 1 — ^Yes.

28451. {Mr, Ratdiffe Ellis,) Can you give us some idea
where these collieries are ? —

{Chairman,) We should like to know. It seems an
evasion of the rule ? — ^It would apply to the larger collieries
we have in South Wales. I could give you the names of
those collieries.

28452. You could give us the names of collieries where
this happens ? — Yes.

{Chairman,) You do not want to do so.

28453. {Mr, Wm, Abraham.) You are willing to give
those names to the Chairman if he wants them 7 — I could
not give them at this very moment.

28454. I know that 7— Quite.

{Cliairman.) We should like to make enquiries about
that. You wiD let the Secretary know 7

28455. {Mr, Smillie,) Your evidence goes further and
says you have discussed this with colliery managers, and
they nave invariably taken up the position that this applies
to " persons," -not a " person " 7 — Yes ; that is right,

28456. {Mr, Ratdiffe Ellis,) Will you give the name at
the same time of the colliery manager you have discussed
it with 7 — ^Very well.

28457. {Chairman.) You go on to Section 57, sub -section 2.
iThe section now reads : " "nie owner, agent or manager shall
(supply a prmted copy of the abstract and the Special
Rules gratis to each person employed in or about
the mine who applies for a copy at the office at which
the persons inunediately employed by the owner, agent
or manager are paid." I do not know whether if the man
asks for it or not that they are bound to give him a copy 7
— ^That is my point. I think a copy of the rules ought
to be supplied whether he applies or not. My object is
this : when a prosecution takes place the men are charged
with not carrying out the rules. Those men may not know
the exact wording of the rules. We have had at inquests

questions raised concerning this, and the men say they have
never had the rules. The question is asked* did he apply
for it 7 and then the manager is free, of course.

28458. You go on to discuss the question of the eight -hoars'
shift. Do you widi to add anythang to what Mr. Rowarth
said on that subject 7— Yes. I want to go further.
I am representing the whole of the colliery enginemen
and stokers at the collieries. He referred more par-
ticularly to winding enginemen. I say that wherever
engines and boilers require attention during the 24 hours,
three eight-hours' shifts of men should be employed

28459. You do that in the interests of safety, I under-
stand 7— Yes.

28460. That is the only point we have to consider in
our Commission 7 — That is right.

28461. You can only argue the eight-hours* day before
us with regard to safety 7 — Yes, and I believe that it would
be in regard to safety. Take winding enginemen. It haa
been stated here this morning we have some working a
12-hours' shift, but I am very pleased to say that the
majority of our men in South Wales are working the eight-
hours' shift.

28462. Winding men 7— Yes. In some parts of our
coalfield, more particularly in central Monmouthshire, I
am also pleased to state that the fan enginemen are also
working eight hours, and other enginemen a^ welL I say
what is practicable at one place is sure to be practicable
at the others.

28463. What have you got to say with regard to the
increase of safety owing to hours being shortened 7 — It
stands to reason that when a man is on duty 12 hours
he is not quite as alert then as he is when he is working
eight hours, say at the tenth hour or so. What we
contend is that the man is fatigued.

28464. As a matter of fact he cannot keep his attention
on the alert without an undue strain upon it for 12 hours 7
— Quite so.

28465. Have you known any accidents happen owing
to the strain being too much for competent people 7 1
do not mean accidents from incompetence, but accidents
from over-strain 7 — ^I could not mention a particulsr
case at present, only that we believe that it would bej
for the safety of the working of the mines that the men {
should work eight hours.

28466. Do you tind in South Wales that sometimes
where the coal hewers work 10 or 12 hours the engine-
winders only work eight 7 Do you find it is on a different
footing from the others 7 — Yes. In South Wales they are
working 54 hours per week. That is equal to nine hours
per day. Then the engine-winders, where they are wind-
ing over 300 tons a day, are working eight hours.

28467. {Mr, Wm, Abraham,) Practically speaking at
all our large collieries enginemen work throe shifts of
eight hours a day 7 — Quite so.

28468. {Chairman,) Although in many cases imder-
ground they work nine or 10 hours 7 — ^Yes.

28469. {Mr, Wm-, Abraham.) A few are working more
than eight, but the large majority are working eight
hours 7 — ^That is right.

28470. {Chairman,) Have you gone into statistics to
find out what proportion of accidents is in mines where
the winding men are employed eight hours and where
they are employed for longer 7 — I have not got the exaot
figures as to the accidents, but I venture to say that
75 per cent, are working eight hours.

28471. Take it that 75 per cent, do, and that 25 per
cent, work longer. Do you find, on looking over the
list of winding accidents, that there is a greater percentage
in the mines where the winders work more than eight
hours than in those mines where they work only eight
hours 7 Have you tried to get out those statistics at all 7
— No. I cannot mention any particular cases, because
in our district where they are raising less ooai they are
working longer hours.

{Mr, Wm. Abraham:) You should expLain to his Lord-
ship in the districts where they are working long hours
they are winding much less coal.

{Chairman.) There is not so much strain.

28472. {Mr, Wm, Abraham,) That is the point 7— Yes.

28473. {Chairman,) You naturally would not expect
to iind more accidents where they are working longer
than eight hours, 'because where they are working longer
than eight hours there is less for them to do, and not so
much strain on them 7 — Yes.

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2M74. Thai might lead to another solution. Instead
y //I I of having a universal eight -hours' day for winders, the Home
*^ ^' ' Seoretary might take into consideration the oircumstanoes
of each case.

28475-7. (Jtfr. FTm. Ahroivam,") We may have it out here
at once. Is there anv rule in force where enginemen have
to wind 300 tons of coal and above that they are to
have three shifts ?— Yes.

{Mr, TTw. Abraham,) I do not thmk we have much to
complain upon this.

(Witness.) I have here the report on an arbitration in
1872. It is very old. Shall I read a portion of it T

28478. (Chairman.) Yes ? — * ' The notices were held over,
and a meeting of the trade took place at the Royal Hotel,
Cardiff, on the 6th July, 1872, at which delegate engineers
attended. The masters asserted that the ' agreement
to refer ' and award, included the engineers, and that in-
asmuch as the ironmasters had not altered the working
hours of the engineers, the Associated Masters could not
do so, but that they were willing to make the concession
required of eight-hours' turn, or three men in 24 hours
in the case of engines winding 300 tons of coal per day,
because of the strain on the energies of the men and the
greater risk to life and property."

28479. Might not that be a way out of the difficulty 7
•^I do not agree with it.

28480. You want it to be always an eight-hours* shift in
all circumstances, whether the winding was 300 tons or
not ?— Yes. A man might be winding 300 tons a day
and working quite as hard as a man raising 600 tons a
day. and even as hard as a man raising 800 tons a day.
It depends upon the nature of his engine ; and if there
are landings in the pit, it increases his work very materially.
That makes the (Merence in taking out the number of tons

28481. You say the number of tons raised is not a very
good test T — ^No.

28482. Of the work that is done by the engmemen ?

28483. I mean of the continuity of the work done by
the enginemen T — No.

28484. You are not disposed to give any power of
granting any exemption at all, under any circumstances,
to working longer than an eight-hours* shift ? — ^No.

28485. You would make it universal and compulsory ?

28486. At the same time in point of fact this 26 per cent
of men who are not working an eight-hours' shift, but a
longer shift, are probably not harder worked as a rule
than those who are working eight hours ? — ^But still I
say that they are too many hours on duty. That is my

28487. The point is as regards safety. You cannot
give the Commission any reason for supposing that in those
mhiee where the eight-hours' shift does not obtain there
are more accidents than where an eight-hours' shift is in
force t— I have not got those figures.

28488. You agree there may be cases where a man
does not do any more work in nine hours, where there is not
a greater strain in nine hours than there is in eight hours,
but there might be circumstances which would make the
strain as great on a man working eight hours as a man
working nine hours t — There is a possibility.

2S489. With regard to the teaching of these winding
enginemen, are you in favour of keeping the teaching
in the hands of your Union entirely, or would you allow
the managers to ask, as a matter of right, that certain
persons should be taught the trade of engine-winding ?
—What we believe is that promotion by seniority should
be adopted where ability is combined. As has been
suggested by the previous witness, a man should start
ei^r at the boilers or at small engmes underground,
and work himself up to the winding engines.

28400. I quite understand that. Would you prevent
a person beginning at the beginning and going to the
top, if anxious to become an engine-winder, and his cha-
racter was good ? Would you insist on his belonging to
the Union as a condition of his getting the certificate ? —
We have not enforced that at all. We are endeavouring
to get fair play for the men, that they should start from
the begbning and go up to the top.

28491. I quite understand that, but that does not
answer the question. Would you impose any restrictions
whatever on a manager who wanted any number of persons
to be taught the trade of engine- winding ? Supposing

the manager agreed that your condition should be accepted,
and that the man should begin at the beginning and go
through the mill the same as you want him to do 7 — ^We
do not believe in having too many taught at the engine.

28492. You mean you would not be able to teach more
than a certain number 7 — ^That is right.

28493. The number ought to be limited, simply by the
opportunities of learning that could reasonably be afforded?
-~- xes.

28494. Subject to that you do not wish to limit the
number in any way 7 — ^For instance, we always agree
that a spare hand man should be ready in case any of
the enginemen are taken ilL

28495. I was asking about the teaching of these men.
There are a certain number whom the managers want
taught the trade of engine-winding and who want
to be taught themselves, whether the managers wish it
or not. You say they should go through certain training.
Supposing they are willing to go through that training,
then you say that there must be some limitation to numbers,
as it is impossible that that kind of training can be given
to any number of men at the same time. There must
be some limitation according to the teaching capacity
of the men employed in the winding work. Subject to
that, you do not think there ought to be any limitation
placed upon the number of men who would be taught
engine-winding, nor do you consider it desirable that it
should be absolutely necessary in order to obtain a cer-
tificate that they should be members of your Union. Do
I understand you agree to those two propositions or not 7
— ^We have not at all prevented any men the management
have put forward becoming winders, only that they go
through the proper course.

28496. You have always accepted and taught to the
best of your ability anyone the managers have wanted
you to teach 7 — That is if he has come in proper rotation,
that is, come from the bottom of the ladder up.

28497. You reserve to yourself the right to refuse a
man on the ground of bad character or deficient intelli-
gence or anything of that sort 7 — Quite so.

28498. In point of fact you have never refused anybody
on either of those grounds 7 — ^I do not remember.

28499. There has been no friction at all between you
and the managers as regards the number of men to be
taught the trade of engine- winding 7 — ^The only friction
there has been is this : I want to raise this point because
it has been raised some time back, I think. It is Q. 8310
in the evidence of Mr. Gra^?.

28500. (Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) It is a question Mr. Davis
asked 7 — ^Yes.

28501. With regard to some difference that there was 7


28502. (Chairman.) That is the point : you wanted to
compel the managers to choose the men in rotation. That
is the difference 7 — ^That is our point.

2S503. You may have a lot of men in a list, and you
are satisfied that they are all competent, and you say
the manager should take the next man on the list and
should not have the choice 7 — ^What we advocated was
that the men who were practised — ^the senior hands —
should be appointed to the engine. What we object to
here is this : it says that we insisted upon the senior man
in order, but we say we insisted upon the senior man in
order where capability was combined.

28504. The senior man who was considered by your
union as being competent, who was on your list as a com-
petent man 7 — At any rate, he had been practised by the
company for some months. That was the point raised.
I want to emphasize this point. The very man that was
objected to on that occasion, not only one, but there were
two or three — but one in particular is winding now, and
has been these years, and, so far as we find, giving every

28506. There has been friction between you and the
managers because you want the managers to take men in
rotation on a list of competent men ; on the other hand,
the managers want to choose for themselves men out
of this list and take anybody they wish : that is the dif-
ference between you, but there has been no friction I
understand owing to your wanting, as the managers con-
sider, to unduly restrict the number of men to be taught
this trade of engine- winding ? — ^No, there has been no
dispute in that way. I may say that the man the man-
agement were desirous of putting in we agreed to, and
the management afterwards put in the men that the
workmen asked for.

W. Hophina,

6 No^l907.

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6 No^l907.





28506. Supposing there was a competent school possi-
bly supported by the managers to teach men engine -
winding, I suppose you should be satisfied that the training
was sufficient training and anybody who passed that
school could be a competent engine-winder, would you
object to anybody obtaining a certificate from that school
because he did not choose to belong to your trade union,
or would you insist upon his belonging to your trade union ?
— In reply to that, we should not object so far as that is
concerned, but we may say that because a man has a cer-
tificate he is not necessarily a capable man to do the
work as a winding engineman. A certificate is one thing,
but the practice which is in vogue now is qmte as

28507. I was supposing in this school they trained a
man, whatever he wanted to be, a blinding engineman or
a stoker. If they taught the man his trade thoroughly,
I wanted to find out whether you would insist upon a
man being a member of your union before he should get a
certificate of competency. Would you allfvw a certificate
of competency to be given to a man outside your union,
or would you make it a condition of getting it, although
in every other way perfectly well qualified ? — ^\Ve believe
he ought to be.

28608. You would like to make that a condition if you
could ? — Yes.

28509. (Mr. Smillie.) You would never think of laying
it down as a condition that he must be a membsr of your
trade union to get a certificate ? — I would not put it in
that way.

28610. (Mr. RatcUffe Ellis.) You would not teach him
unless he was : that is the point ? — That is the rule more

28611. (Mr. SmiUie.) He might be taught and secure a
certificate ? — Exactly. You have taken me off the point
if you will allow me to explain one thing. It says in
Mr. Gray's evidence to which I refeired that an accident

28612. (Mr. Ratcliffe EUis.) This is the question which
was put (Q. 8315) : "Do you, in the case you refer to,
know that the Enginemen's Union threatened to bring
out the whole of the men and stop the colliery unless
their particular man, the next man in order, was selected
as the winding engineman." Mr. Gray, to whom that
question was put, said, " I believe that was so." You can
tell the Commission whether that was so or not ? — They
have mixed up two cases.

28513. Will you answer my question whether in that
case the Enginemen's Union threatened to bring out the
whole of the men and stop the colliery unless their par-
ticular man, the next man in order, was selected as the
winding engineman. Mr. Gray, the Inspector, said, " I
believe that was so." You, as representing the Enginemen
can tell the Commission whether that was so or not ? —
The men threatened that they would discontinue working
if the men in order of seniority, according to what is the
practice, were not allowed to go to the engines.

28514-5. It is the Enginemen's Union I am talking about.
Did the imion threaten to bring out the whole of the men
and stop the qoUiery unless their particular man, the next
man in order, was selected as the winding engineman ? —
In this particular case they did refer to it, but you are mix-
ing two cases.

28516. " The Enginemen'^ Union threatened to bring
out the whole of the men and stop the colliery unless their
particular man, the next man in order, was selected as
the winding engineman ? " — ^That is quite so in this case.

28617. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) Are you perfectly correct
now ? Was it not don^ by the men that were working in
that place ? — Yes, in that place.

28518. (Mr. Ratdiffe Ellis.) My question was the
Enginemen's Union.

(Mr. Wm. Abraliam.) He said " Yes," but I know it
is wrong ? — The branch you mean.

28619. (Chairman.) They had not the authority : that
is the point. They might not have been able to carry out
their threat ? — ^That is right.

28620. (Mr. Ratdiffe Ellis.) It either was the Engine-
men's Union or the union in some other form which would
say that all the men were to come out and stop the colliery
unless the enginemen had the appointment of the engine -
winder ? — ^That is so, the men at that colliery.

28521. What responsibility in law, or in any other way,
is there upon the Engine- winders' Union or the Trades Union
if a man appointed is not a competent man ? — But the men
did not carry it out.


28522. Will you answer that question ? I want to go
by steps. What responsibility is there upon this authority
which claims the right to appoint the enginemen, if the man
appointed is not a competent man 1 — The union has no
responsibility, but they are not going as far as that.

28523. Who is respoasible if a competent man is not ^y
appointed ? — The manager.

28524. Do you think it right that the manager should
remain responsible and that the union should appoint the
engine-winder t — No, we have not gone so far as that.

28525. Is that in the interest of safety in your view ? —
No, the men have not gone so far as that.

28526. Will you answer my question ? In your view is
it in the interest of safety that the manager should remain
responsible, and that he should not have the right to appoint
his man as engine-winder, but that the union who have no
responsibility should be the persons to appoint the engine-
winder. You put to the Commission in your view that
is in the interests of safety ? — I say that the manager should
be the person responsible, but that the men should have a
right to put their case before the managers.

28527. That is not quite what you did in that case.
In that case we have got as far as this. In this particular
case we are dealing with the Engine-winders' Union, or
whatever the authority might be, which insisted upon
appointing the engine- winder, and they said ' * If we cannot
appoint that man we will stop the pit." We agree in law
the manager is responsible if an incompetent man winds.
Do you say it is in the interests of safety that ho should
remain responsible and an entirely irresponsible body
should make the appointment ? — No ; we say he should
be responsible.

28528. You would not go so far as that ?— No.

28529. What is your suggestion for meeting that difficulty.

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 81 of 177)