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Thursday, 27 June 1946


Mr JAMES (Hunter) .- I have received from the International Labour Office, Montreal, Canada, a copy of the following paper: -

Coal Mines Committee - Report of First Session, London, December, 1945.

I present it, and move-

That the paperbe printed.

The following countries were represented on the committee: - United States of America, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, United Kingdom, India, Netherlands, Poland, Tnrkey and the Union of South Africa. The principal subject of discussion was the release of prisoners of war from mines in those countries which had been occupied by the enemy. The problem was to release the prisoners without too seriously depleting man-power resources, and it was proposed to spread the releases over a number of years. A further point discussed was the best way to attract young men to the industry. It was pointed out that in Great Britain alone 1,000,000 men have left the industry, and young men could not be induced to take their places. In fact, they preferred to enter the armed forces, and it was necessary to conscript, men for work in the mines, these being knownduring the war as " Bevin's boys ". The committee sat for seven days, and its findings are summarized as follows : -

1.   The opportunity for steady employment, to be assisted through stabilization of produc tion and use of coal and the development of alternative uses of the products of coal mines.

(a)   Wages at rates which will support an income attractive as compared with income in industry generallyso as to provide adequate man-power and improve the standards of living;

(b)   Provision for adequate annual holidays with pay.

3.   Working time in the mines effectively less than the working time in industry generally.

4.   Work under conditions conducive to the safety, health and comfort of the workers and an adequatescheme for accident prevention and workmen's compensation.. 5.Social betterment in the interests of coal-mine workers and their families.

6.   Schemes toprovide adequate retiring allowances to make provision for the old age of those who have been employed in the coal-mining industry.

7.   Training courses for new entrants.

8.   Co-operation among the interests involved in the success of the industry, including collective bargaining.

The Coal Mines Committee considers that an international economic agreement between the coal -producing countries, which would remove unfair competition, would facilitate greatly the solution of the social problems mentioned in the suggested principles for incorporation in a coal mine workers' charter.

The Coal Mines Committee requests the International Labour Office to continue and complete its report on safety provisions in coal mines and to make a thorough inquiry into health conditions in coal mines and the health of coal mine workers; and

Requests the governing body of the International Labour Office to convene a session of the Coal Mines Committee which would act in the capacity of a technical preparatory conference, charged with formulating a draft recommendation on the whole problem and a draft model code on safety, taking as a basis for its discussions the report prepared by the International Labour Office, for the preparatory technical conference which was to have been held in Geneva in 1939, as completed and brought up to date.

The United Kingdom Workers' member suggested that the committeeshould adoptthe report of the sub-committee unanimously. The Belgian Employer's member associated himself with the request of the workers' member from the United Kingdom that the report' be adopted without discussion, since each of the points had been fully debated in the subcommittee.

The committee adopted the first seven points una nimously. The text of point 8 was adopted by 85 votes to 1.

The Resolution No. 1 relative to an international economic agreement was adopted without opposition.

The Resolution No. 1 1 relative to safety and health was adopted without opposition.

The report of the sub-committee on the Mineworkers' Charter was adopted as a whole by the committee without recourse to a vote.

On the motion of the French Workers' member, the committee unanimously adoptedthe following resolution at its eighth plenary sitting.

In view of the importance of the problems examined during its session for rehabilitating the mining profession:

And in view of the urgency of achieving certain measures which are impatiently a waited by mine workers;

The Coal Mines Committee expresses the wish that, while taking the situation in their respective countries into account, governments should strive to give effect as soon as possible to the reforms recommended by it.

At its eighth plenary sitting the committee unanimously adopted the following statement, submitted on behalf of the Steering Committee by itsVice-Chairman, the United States Employers' member:

I emphasize, by the employers' member. And all employers' members were present at all sessions, an experience quite different from what we have had in this country. The employers who supply honorable members opposite with propaganda with which to attempt to ridicule the coal-miners are very different from those who attended the sittings of the committee. The report continues -

At its third sitting on 7th December, the Steering Committee considered the question of conversion of coal into oil to which attention was drawn by the Australian Government number at the second full sitting of the Coal MinesCommittee. The Steering Committee, while fully recognizing the importance of this matter, considered that conversion of coal into oil is primarily a technical question which it is not the function of the International Labour Organization to study. The Steering Committee decided to recommend, however, that the International Labour Office he requested to examine the question from the point of view of the social problems involved?

Every honorable member realizes that the coal-mining industry is the subject of criticism. Criticism was pronounced at the conference. Discontent seems chronic in the industry throughout the world.' We can only conclude that the discontent and consequent non-continuity of production of coalis due to the fact that the industry has not been made attractive. In many parts of the world, including the south coast and parts of the northern district ofNew SouthWales, dust causes diseases of the lungs.







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