In deciding on which article(s) to feature this week, I decided to see what the new was on my dad’s birth day. My dad, Ivon Walter Whimpey was born on 21 January 1923, which was a Sunday. Since there was no newspaper for that day, I had a look to see what was in the news on Monday 22 January 1923, and I came across the following article.
STATE COAL MINE
A SERIOUS OUTLOOK
Engineers Cease Work
WONTHAGGI – The engineers, engine drivers and others employed at the State coal mine ceased work as from midnight on Saturday. Their places have been taken, as far as possibly, by some members of the mine official staff, and efforts are being made to keep the wheels of the power house revolving. The greatest inconvenience will be caused if the electrical light and power services cannot be maintained, and many people, fearing the worst, have got in supplies of kerosene and candles. One leading business man reports having sold his complete stock of bedding, hurricane lamps, &c., to the mine management, and this purchase may be taken as an indication that a prolonged struggle is feared.
The seriousness of the situation is realised by all the business people, and a meeting of the Traders’ Association has been called for Monday evening to discuss matters. At the request of several business people and many ratepayers the mayor has convened a public meeting for Monday night, and in all probability a deputation to the Government will follow. A mass meeting of all unions whose members are employed at the mine will be held on Monday morning.
Several constables, in the charge of an inspector from Melbourne, arrived at the mine on Saturday night, and others are to follow. They will do special duty at the mine, sleeping quarters having been provided for them there.
On Saturday the mine management served a notice as follows on several of the shift engineers and engine drivers:-
In the matter of the Employers and Employees Act 1915, and in the matter of the State Coal Mine, Wonthaggi.- Whereas by the provisions of the act, it is an offence punishable by imprisonment for three months or by a find of £20 for a person employed to maliciously break a contract, knowing that the consequences of so doing will be to deprive the inhabitants of the town of electric light, or to expose valuable property to serious injury. And whereas the management of the State Coal Mine has been informed that you intend to so break your contract of service, now these presents are to warn you of the serious nature of the offence contemplated by you, and of the serious consequences to any person or persons who may incite you to break the law or who intimidate you, and to assure you that full protection will be afforded you and your family and properties while you obey the law and carry out your duties on the mine. J. McLeish, general manager.
Notices of almost similar wording were also served on the executive officers of the Miners’ Union, who, however, attached no importance to it.
Although, as far as I know, none of my family actually worked at the coal mine, my grandfather, John Ernest Whimpey, did work for a while on the railway line from Melbourne to Wonthaggi from about 1912 to 1914, and it was here that he met my grandmother, Ivy May Harley, who grew up at Woolamai, near Wonthaggi. Last week, I featured her father, Alexander Alexander Harley, and his role in the Wonthaggi Dairy Produce Company Limited.