CALGARY (CP)--A demand that Alberta labor legislation be amended to make labor unions financially responsible "for violations of the meaning, terms, spirit and intent of wage agreements entered into by them," was voiced by an official of the Domestic Coal Operators association Monday.
The demand was contained in a submission presented by the association to a three-man board appointed by the Alberta government to try to reach a settlement of the contract dispute between western Canada coal operators and District 18, United Mine Workers of America (C.C.L.). The board also heard company and union spokesmen intimate that price increases on coal mined in the west were necessary.
About 10,000 Alberta and British Columbia miners have been on strike for three weeks following breakdown of contract negotiations. The miners seek a basic $14-a-day wage increase for miners at the coal face, a $3-a-day increase for other miners and a seven-cents-a-ton increase in the welfare fund. Present average wage for miners is $8.74 a day.
W.C. Whittaker, commissioner of the Western Canada Bituminous Coal Operator's association, said the union had no grounds for asking that their wage rate be equal to that of United States miners who receive an average of $1.84 per hour.
"If the Canadian mine worker expected to be paid American coal miner's wages, he should also expect to pay the same cost of living as the American mine worker and should also be expected to produce the same output per man-day as American mine workers," he said. "Mine workers can hardly expect other Canadian workers earning $8 a day to buy coal produced by mine workers on a $14-a-day scale."
Agnus Morrison, District 18 U.M.W.A. secretary, said Canadian miners had every right to expect the same treatment and the same wage rates as miners workers enjoyed in the United States from which the larger share of Coal consumed in Canada was obtained.
Both Mr. Whittaker and V.A. Cooney, secretary of the Domestic Operators association, said wages increases granted would have to be passed on to the consumer. Union spokesmen said the general price rise in other commodities would force the price of coal up even if workers were not given an increase.
Mr Whittaker said that at Nov. 1, 1947, the average hourly wage in the coal industry was the highest for any industry in the dominion, with one exception he did not name.
Edmonton Bulletin, 5 February 1948