26 JANUARY 1945, Page 13


SIR,—AS another optant for coal mining I should like to confirm the facts given by " Optant " in his recent letter. I am employed in the Stirlingshire area in what is also regarded as a modern pit. I rim convinced that the relatively low production at this pit is not actually due to absenteeism, though there is a certain amount of that, but rather to the inefficiency of the haulage system employed. The hutches (called rubs in England) carrying the coal are taken up the roads by means of an endless rope, and derailments and wrecks here are many. But so far as I can gather it is above ground that much of the delay occurs. Here the coal, still in hutches, travels a distance of about a mile for screening and washing purposes, and the empty hutches travel back the same distance. Quite often the pit is at a standstill owing to lack of hutches, yet here we have two miles of these, all travelling slowly, which could be in use underground. If the coal must travel such a distance surely it could bo emptied into large wagons at the point where it is brought to the surface and the hutches returned immediately. This, with improved roads underground, would result in a considerable speeding up in production.

Another thing which I have noticed since taking up this work is the hostile and arrogant attitude of the management towards the men. Bullying never has been the best way of obtaining cooperation and it is cooperation that is required now to master the coal problem. More consideration given to the men would, I am sure, work wonders with them, and make what is always a trying job less of an ordeal. I have contacts with those in other pits in the area and their impressions are the same as mine.

Finally, I can confirm "Optant's " observations regarding the primi- tive conditions underground, except that where he says sanitary arrange- ments are almost non-existent I would insert completely.

There are many other things which could be severely criticised in the methods of pit working but considerations of space prevent my mentioning these now. The public have so long been told about the faults of the miners and their responsibility for the coal shortage that it is surely time attention was drawn to those which exist on the manage- ment side but which are seldom given publicity.—Yours faithfully,