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Wellington Journal & Shrewsbury News, January 19, 1895
ACTION AGAINST A COLLIERY PROPRIETOR.
MADELEY. COUNTY COURT. WEDNESDAY - Before his Honour Judge Harris Lea.

William Worrall, coal miner, residing at Dawley, sued James Ferriday, colliery proprietor, Dawley, for 14 days' wages (£l-10s.) in lieu of notice, and three tons of coal at 8s. per ton, £1-4s. Mr. Leake (Shifnal) represented the plaintiff, and Mr. Carrane the defendant. Mr. Leake stated that this was a test case, and would decide similar claims made by two other colliers, named Jones and Corbett. Plaintiff stated: I am a miner, living at Dawley, and in March, 1894, I entered into an engagement to work for Mr. Ferriday at Spring Meadow Pit as holer at 3s. 5d. per day, and it was usual to have a ton of coal every four weeks. At the end of the first month I asked the defendant to send my coal, and he replied, "I will see about it." He did not send the coal, but after I had worked for him five months I got a load of coal, and then defendant agreed to give us (witness, Jones, and Corbett) a load of coal every six weeks, stating that the pit was not paying, and he could not afford to give us a load every month. In December, when I went down the pit to work, the props were not ready, and I ultimately came up the pit. On the following Monday, when I went to the pit, I saw John Davies, banksman, who told us we were not to go down, because we refused to work on Saturday. The defendant told us that we had served him dirty, and I replied, "Not so dirty as you served us by setting other people on and letting us play." Defendant then said, "You can have your money if you like," and he paid us.

After he did so we said we should require a fortnight’s notice and our coal. He replied, "I shall not give it you." Cross-examined by Mr. Carrane: I was not told when engaged I should have no coal. Nothing was said about it. We did strike until we had our coal. Edward Corbett, another miner, corroborated the previous evidence, as also did Samuel Jones. Mr. Leake said this was the case for the plaintiff.

The defendant went into the box and stated the he was a certificated mining engineer, and had opened the colliery 12 months last September. He engaged Worrall after repeated applications as a holer. At the same he told him there was no allowance coal. Some time after the plaintiff asked for coal, and then he referred him to the agreement he started upon. It was not the custom for a single man to have coal. It was on October 16 that the strike took place, when the men said they would not work any longer under the old agreement, and subsequently he decided to give them a load of coal every six weeks. Because the plaintiff and the other men refused to work on a Saturday, he gave instructions that he should not require them on the following Monday. On that date they came up to the machine and asked for their money, and he gave instructions for them to be paid, nothing was said about 14 days' notice.

Noah Hyde, collier, gave evidence, which was rather in favour of the plaintiff. Samuel Morgan, underlooker, stated that the plaintiffs knew very well that they were not to have any coal. Jas. Bailey (Dawley Green), timber setter at this colliery, deposed that the plaintiff refused to work on the day in question, and would not help to set the timber. Robert Bryce, and Mr. John Fletcher, chartermaster, Madeley, independent witnesses, gave evidence, the latter stating that he always gave coal to men who were entitled to it. In summing up, his Honour observed that he was of opinion that the men were entitled to one ton of coal each, and also their wages. He did not think their refusing to work on the Saturday was a case for instant dismissal, and he held they were entitled to such amount of wages in lieu of notice on their average earnings in the pits for the last few months, which in Worrall’s case meant a verdict for £1-15s. 3d. and costs. The hearing of this case occupied the Court nearly four hours.


Note: Court case took place on Wednesday, 16th January, 1895

Submitted by Steve Dewhirst

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