The Coal Crisis
The wages dispute in the coal industry is a knot which nobody knows how to untie. In a little more than a week the Mines Act will come into force and the eight hour day ought to be replaced by a seven and a half hour day. But in no coalfield where eight hours a day are still worked has there been any successful adjust- ment of wages. The Mining Association has refused on behalf of the employers to take any part in a National Industrial Board because participation would imply the reasonableness of a national treatment of the industry. Attempts are therefore being made to settle wage disputes locally, and in several districts the owners suggest better terms if the men will agree to the " spreadover " of hours. The Government are under a solemn promise to the Miners that a reduction of hours shall not mean a reduction of wages. They had been hoping, of course, that the marketing schemes provided in the Act would make it easy for the owners to maintain wages, but the marketing schemes themselves arc not ready. It is not surprising that the Government are credited with thoughts of postponing the operation of the Act. The ideal solution is, of course, an international agreement in regard to hours, but that is a. long way off. The Delegates Conference of the Miners' Federation is due to meet on Thursday after we have gone to press.
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