Abstract: Report of Commission regarding the Minto Coal Co. Ltd., 1926

In January 1926, Edgar Teed, Luke Morrison, and George Stone were appointed commissioners to inquire into the industrial and market conditions of the Minto Coal Company. What they found in large part was an operation bitterly divided between workers and management.

Employees of the Minto Coal Company were disgruntled for a variety of reasons, not the least of which included a reduction in wages, poor working conditions, poor housing conditions, unsatisfactory sanitary conditions, and the questionable state of mine safety. The Commissioners reported that they had submitted a proposal to bridge the differences between the two sides. The workers rejected the proposal and resumed a prior strike action. Eventually both sides came back to the bargaining table and an agreement was reached on 23 March 1926.

The report also delineated in more detail the complaints made by workers. One example of the Commissioners' findings concerned sanitary conditions at workers' homes. The report stated that there were no water mains laid and no 'sewerage' system in place. Outhouses were 'universal' and only cleaned twice a year. The report stated that the system was "not meeting the needs of worker".

One of the striking things about this report is the paternalistic tone with which the Commissioners wrote about workers. From the first page it is clear that the Commissioners were unhappy with the worker representation, namely members of the One Big Union or O.B.U. For example, in a sub-section of the report entitled "co-operation", the Commissioners noted with an obvious reference to the O.B.U. that "your commission recommend that the Employees should avail themselves of the companies desire, choosing as their Representatives men of sound judgement and experience." For the Commissioners, these men of "sound judgement and experience" were not to be found in the O.B.U.


Edgar R. Teed
George A. Stone
Luke S. Morrison.

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