Employers Liability Act and the mutual insurance

On Sunday (21st November) last a crowded meeting of men employed on the Brighton line was held at the Railway Tavern to hear the address from Mr. F.W. Evans (ASRS General Secretary) on the Employers Liability Act and the Mutual Insurance proposals recently made by the directors of the line.

The speaker attended at the request of the men themselves.

A chairman having been appointed, a fitter named Mr. Henderson, who apparently represented the locomotive superintendent of New Cross, read a statement of the company's proposals, and the recent interview between the officials and the men at Brighton.

Mr. Evans then entered on a brief history of railway accidents, and the demands for remedies to the enormous number of needless casualties to railway servants. In 1871 an Act of Parliament, entitled the Railway Regulation Amendment Act, was passed. By it every company was bound under penalties to make a return of every casualty on a railway, whether of servants or the public. Late in 1873 the Board of Trade published a report on the accidents returned under the Act as happening in 1872. The fearful total of one year's accidents, and the lives sacrificed, and the suffering endured among railway servants from accidents startled the country. Lord Carlingford, then Mr. Fortescue, President of the Board of Trade, felt it to be the duty of the Government to call the attention of railway companies to the enormity of the human slaughter, and demanded the application of known remedies, and of greater care for the men's safety. Notwithstanding the very great number of killed and injured railway servants reported to the Board of Trade in 1872 by the companies, it was but a partial statement of the whole sacrifice. The companies had told the truth, but not the whole truth. After reports confirmed this view, and the average annual number of causalities to railway servants was proved to result in about 700 deaths and 3,500 non fatal injuries. The Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants had already put forward a claim to an alteration in the law of employees' liability, with object of making the legal responsibility for compensation an inducement on the companies to remove the causes, and thus prevent accidents. This claim the Society unceasingly urged, supported largely by public opinion, till the Act of last session was passed. In 1874 the Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into railway accidents, and to report on legislative means for diminishing them. The Commission, after three years' inquiry, presented its report, and recommended an extension of the lightly of Railway companies to compensate servants for injury. This the Commission regarded as the best method of preventing or decreasing the number of accidents among servants. Having sketched the many exertions made by the Society to secure the passing of the Employers' Liability Act, the original of which was drafted by the Society and adopted by Mr. Gladstone's Government, Mr. Evans examined the provisions of the measure. He strongly dissented from the clause limiting the amount of compensation "to three years' earnings," and described it as one partially defeating the intentions of the promoters of the Act, and ventured to predict that limitation of the amount of damage would within a few years be eliminated, and juries or assessors be left to determine to compensation as in the case of passengers. An amendment put forward at the instance of the Society made the Act a very valuable one to railway servants. By railway servants, he meant those engaged in the traffic of a railway, and not the fitters, carpenters, and others employed in or about the company's shops. That amendment, now part of the Act, made a railway company liable to compensate every workman injured "by reason of the negligence of any person in the service of the company who has the charge or control of any signals points, locomotive engine, or train upon the railway." The clause quoted would in the fact, give a servant the legal right to compensation for any possible injury cause by train accidents, to which injured man had not contributed by his own negligence. It nearly covered the whole ground of accidents connected with the movement of vehicles on a railway, and therefore gave to railway servants proper a special advantage and protection. The engine driver, the guard, the shunter, and other traffic men, because of this clause, had a greater interest in maintaining the operations of the Act than had the shopmen, whose class of accidents were neither so serious or frequent, nor so well provided for by the Act. Indeed, he could see nothing in common between the shopmen and the running men, or why, having distinct interests, they should be mixed up together. The running men's great aim should be to prevent accidents they could not from the nature of their duties control, and this end result end the Act was well calculated to promote. The effect of the new law, by the responsibilities it threw on companies and the exposed defects made under it, must be to reduce the number of casualties to railwaymen, to save some from violent death and others from mutilation. They ought the to well ponder how they parted from its protection and contract away a legal right it had cost them so much labour and to exact from the legislation. Of insurance he was strongly in favour. Notwithstanding the passing of the Act, he would have every person use insurance as far as they could to do so: not for accident death alone, but against natural deaths which must of necessity be more frequent than those by accidents. All men must die. A few only died by violence, and therefore was more important as applied to natural than accidental death. While agreeing with insurance as a means of providing sure compensation in every case of accident, he could not agree that insurance could by any means be a substitute for the Employers' Liability Act. Insurance never would and never could be a check on accidents; it could not operate in removing thee causes leading to accidents on railways and was not not therefore a protection to the men's safety, but simply a means of compensation. For this reason it could not be a substitute for the Act. It is better to prevent casualties than to compensate for them. Men should desire to see accidents prevented or adverted, and this insurance will not help them in doing, but the Act will. Before mutual insurance can become a just alternative for the Act it must assumed that the employers have done, and always will do, everything requisite for the men's safety. He could not admit such was the case on the railways, and reviewed in detail the improvements urgently needed at the present moment. The working of the Act would be constantly included to the adoption of such improvements, while at the same time compensating large numbers of men for the loss sustained through injuries. Insurance would do the latter work, button the former. His opinion that every man should insure, but they should also stand by the law. Those who eagerly contracted away the lawful workmen's protection would, be feared, be signing the death warrants of many of their fellows. No money could compensate for loss of life or for deformity mutilation, and however much they advocate insurance, let them also retain the invaluable protection of the new law and save as many as possible from premature deaths and needless suffering. By the courtesy of Mr. Knight he was present at the meeting at Brighton when the proposals to contract away the Act were made by Mr. Laing. He gave Mr. Laing, Mr. Knight, and other officers of the Brighton every credit for the kind and generous spirit in which they met the men and put forward their proposals. If he differed from their proposals, he would not underage the kindly regard which prompted them, or the fairness which characterised Mr. Laing's language. Indeed, the concern of the Brighton company for their men's proved by the existence of useful insurance fund years before any movement to alter the law was undertaken. In this respect the Brighton showed a good will to its servants few other companies had shown. He had thought that before that day every man would have had a printed copy of the proposals. In brief, they consisted of an offer to double benefits of insurance fund without any extra charge to the men, if the men would but relieve the company of the liability of the new law. Let them examine the exact value of the offer of the company. The annual average death rate among servants from accidents was proved to be -- on mineral lines, 85 in every 10,000employed; on passenger lines 25 in every 10,000 employed. On the Brighton line, of recent years, the average was about 21 in 10,000. A simple calculation shows us that the subscription required to provide each one with £100 at death, by accident, was a on a mineral line 7s. each man per year, on a passenger line 5s. per man per year, and on the Brighton line 4s. 3d. per man per year. That is to say, each servant on the Brighton paying one penny per week, a fund would be formed from which £100 could death by accident on the line. For this part of the insurance there is, therefore, required an account of those in the first 2d. and the second class 1 1/2d.,and the third class 1d. per week contribution or premium. But the insurance also provides an allowance of 20s., 15s., and 10s., according to the class during disablement, for any period not exceeding fifty two weeks. how much is required to meet those demands, which are numerous? From recent investigations made, be found that for the past ten years the yearly average number of disablements by accidents have been, on mineral lines, 840 in every 10,000 persons employed, and on passenger lines about 600 in every 10,000 persons employed. Taking them through and through, each case of disablement lasted 3 3/4 weeks. This enabled them to rightly ascertain cost of providing the benefits during disablement promised by the company. If 10,000 men subscribe to provide a relief of 20s. per week for 3 3/4 weeks to each 600 of their number who are injured, the cost 4s. 6d. each per annum, or a very small fraction over 1d. per week. We can now arrive, at the actual weekly value to a first class member of the Brighton insurance benefits. to provide £200 at accidental death requires a weekly payment of 2d., and to provide 20s. a week during disablement requires a weekly payment of 1 1/2d., or say for all purposes 31/2d. per week, exclusive of management. of this weekly sum the men now pay 1 1/2d. per week, and the company will only have to provide 2d. week. Well, then, Mr. Laing's offer comes to this:-- The company will give each first class insurer 2d., each second class insurer 1 1/2d., and each third class insurer 1d. per week on condition that they forego the protection of the Employers' Liability Act. for so small a sum as 2d. per week were they justified in foregoing the protection of the law, and leaving to chance the reforms wanted to avert accidents? One thing struck him as not fair in Mr. Laing's proposal. men who preferred the Act were not to be allowed to use the insurance fund to provide as much benefit during accident as their own payments would actually purchase. If there was to be perfect fairness and no coercion why was this distinction made? The men who so insurance would not derive one penny benefit from the company's money, but only from their own. He would, if a driver insure against accidents -- and also retain the protection of the Act and compensation it provide, which in the case of drivers was considerably more than the insurance by the company. He ended that litigation under the Act was expensive, inasmuch as it must be undertaken in the County court, where £10 would cover a heavy case. Moreover, the investigation and exposure of defects, which were only possible by litigation, would be hushed up under insurance. Again expressing his belief in the good will of the Brighton Company, Mr. Evans concluded by urging men not to contract away the Act amid general applause.

Mr. Henderson rose to oppose Mr. Evans. He was a trade unionist belonging to the engineers. If the Act had passed in its original form he should not have been willing to contract out of it, but as it was he should do so. He thought it was wrong for Mr. Evans to come here and mislead and deceive the men by saying what insurance companies would do. Why did he not name the company? (Here the speaker was loudly called to order by the meeting.) He had a statement of accidents in the shops at New Cross placed in his hands at ten that morning, and for the five years past not five of them would come under the Act. He quoted from speeches and letters of Mr. Evans (On being asked to read the context he admitted he had not got it, and Mr. Evans read the extracts in full from the Railway Review, which threw entirely different aspect on the matter.) The speaker, unable to answer the corrections urged by his hearers to his remarks, sat down.

Mr. Evans, in reply, said it appeared that Mr. Henderson's attendance was more for the purpose of a personal attack on himself, than to calmly consider the important matter before them. Mr. Henderson claimed to be a trade unionist, and would be opposed on principle to contracting away the Act if it had passed in the original form? The principle remained the same, whatever the character of the Act; but Mr. Henderson was quite willing to forego or sell his principle for twopence per week. He had not referred to any insurance company, but had simply examined in the light of Mr. Neison's experiences the value of the company's proposals. In a friendly manner he corrected Mr. Henderson's personally, and answered serval questions put to him by the audience.

A South-Eastern driver strongly urged the men not to forego the Act.

Eventually it was resolved to hold a further meeting at the same place on Sunday next, when it is hoped that the printed copies of the proposals would be circulated.

A hearty vote of thanks was recorded Mr. Evans, and one also to the chairman.

The meeting, which had manifested much enthusiasm in reference to Mr. Evans observations, then broke up.                            



Sir, A humble individual like myself could not expect to be so fully reported as the accomplished secretary of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants; but, at the same time, I might have expected you would have given an unbiassed account of what I did say, instead of trying to injure me, as it would have done if I had had misfortune to be working for some employer who will under no consideration recognise a trade unionist.

Your reporter commences by saying that I was "apparently the representative of the superintendent of New Cross," and this after I distinctly said I was present to represent no employer or master; but having read the Act, and heard the proposals of Mr. Laing, I was present to ask the men to do as I had done, to think for themselves and their families, and not to be led away by any man. And if it was to their benefit and the benefit of the greater number of the employees to accept to the terms offered, by all means, I say, take advantage of them instead of relying on the Act, which in the opinion of many eminent lawyers, who voted in favour of the Act, "If pushed too far would be injurious to the employed."

Your reporter notifies to the world that I am a trade unionist, and a member of the engineers' society, apparently with the intention of injuring me in the eyes of my employees; but I am glad to say that they bear no animosity against man who belongs to what is now recognised by the law of the land as a legal institution; in fact, I have no hesitation in saying that a large majority of the company's best mechanics belong to a trade union. Your reporter likewise says that I "sat down unable to answer the corrections urges by his hearers."

Sir, those who were present at the meeting will bear me out when I say that no other man had the courage to answer Mr. Evans, and only one had confidence enough in himself to ask Mr. Evans a question. As your reporter has not thought fit to report this, I will give it to you with the answer by Mr. Answer by Mr. Evans. The question was this -- "What would you advise the men to under the present circumstances?"

The reply was, "I tell you the same as I told Mr. Knight that if I was an engine driver and employed on your line tomorrow, I would not accept of the terms, and if I would not accept of them I should advise to do the same."

Sir, in my humble opinion, I think it would have been more manly if Mr. Evans had stuck to the motto of the society, as advertised every week in the Railway Review, viz "to prevent strikes by promoting a good understanding between employers and employed, and to adjust disputes by arbitration or conciliation." And he would have proved himself be the real friend of the railway servants if he had said, "I have done my best to get this Liability Bill enacted, and as it has been the means of causing the company to offer terms fully carrying out the spirit of the Act, I have advise you to accept of them instead of being continually in litigation with a wealthy company." I would like to say many other things, but I am afraid I have already encroached too much on the space allotted to correspondence.

Hoping, in justice to me, you will publish this in your next issue, I remain, &c.,

George Henderson 



The directors of this line for the first time, we are informed, issued some statement in reference to the men's Insurance Fund operations. Inasmuch as it accompanied by a proposal that the men should contract away the liability under which the company will rest after January next, the figures given are of some interest. During 1879 there were 704 cases of accidents occurring among 9,337 servants insured in the fund. Only ten were fatal; the remaining 694 were of varying severity. Although there was paid for the 704 accidents a sum £2,219 13s. 4d. Of this sum the company contributed about £600, the men the rest. The average cost to the members for the benefit, assuming the company contributed nothing, was therefore exactly 4s. 9d. per member, or a very small fraction more than one penny per week, about 1 1-10th per week. An insurance providing £100 at accidental disablement, may on this line be accomplished for a very small trifle -- that is, for 5s. 1 1/2d. a year, or less than one penny farthing per week. If members of the first class, who pay sixpence per month paid eightpence per month, they would contribute the whole of the insurance they now enjoy. A member of the first class receives a gift of twopence per month from the company.

The company's Benevolent Fund, the Superannuation Fund, the Savings Bank and Provident Society, established for the use of the employees of this line are very excellent institutions, and a source of blessing, we doubt not, to thousands since their establishment. We specially approve the savings bank scheme, if, as presume, the men can pay into it at the pay table which they receive their wages. thrift is the want of the day, and such savings banks are an enticement to many whose money is too hot to long remain encased in the pockets of their apparel. Working men spend four shillings out of every pound of their wages in the public house. The public house till is a bad bank to deposit in: the depositor loses capital and interest. The brewer and distiller make marvellous wealth; retired publicans are the nuisance of every quiet nook; while the workmen who have made them all rich are poor and bankrupt, enduring all kinds of deprivations and inconveniences. Saving banks well patronised would reserve this order of things. Let every Brighton servant reflect on the valuable use ti which he can put the company's, or indeed ay sound savings bank. Depend upon it thrift is each man's best friend. Every pound saved is a step to independence, and nothing se prevents the accumulation of pence which go to make up pounds, as the facilities for swallowing them offered by public drinking bars. Casual visits to the "Shakespeare" to home near London Bridge, and to one or two others in Stewart's Lane, Battersea, reveal the secret of the railway servants' want of independence, Drivers, porters, and guars spend a very mine of wealth in stimulants. Little fortunes are yearly poured down their throats. We understand why some of them cannot afford to belonging to the Amalgamated Society, to the savings bank, or to other useful institutions of thrift. They are too eagerly bent on building up publicans; fortunes and running their own. there are many excellent exceptions. men there are who use but do not abuse the use of stimulants, and find time to save a few pounds, and provide homes of comfort, if not of elegance. We heartily wish to see more such men among the Brightonservants, and commend to their weekly use any one of many savings banks to which they have access. The advantage of the company's bank is the high rate of interest given to depositors. up to £50 3 1/2 per cent. is given. For £50 and upwards 4 per cent. There are bankers in London today who would be happy to lend thousands at such a rate of interest and on such good security. The main use of a savings bank is to inculcate a habit of putting by, of saving. This habit once engrafted on a man, the rainy day is ever provided for. 



The directors of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway have issued the following circular, consequent on the meeting at Brighton with the delegates of the staff:--

The passing of the Employers' Liability Act, which takes effect from the 1st January next, makes it necessary to decide what is to be done with the funds.

The Provident Society, Superannuation Fund, and Savings Bank will, of course, not be affected by it, but it is obvious that, if the men generally prefer to rely on the legal claim to compensation for accidents given by the Act, the company could not continue to pay for a second insurance, in the shape of a large voluntary contribution to such funds as the insurance and benevolent.

As a mere money question, it is immaterial to the company which course the men elect to adopt, as it is almost certain that the average amount which it would have to pay for compensation under the Act would be less than that which it has been voluntarily paying, and the directors wish it to be distinctly understood that they have no desire to exercise the least compulsion on their staff in the matter.

On the contrary, they wish each man individually to decide for himself whether the advantages which it is now proposed to offer are or are not than an equivalent for those given by the Act, and no man will be in any way prejudiced if he should elect to go under the Act.

At the same time it seems a pity that the Insurance and Benevolent Funds which have worked so well, and done so much good, should be broken up, and the directors are prepared to make some sacrifice in a pecuniary point of view rather than risk any disturbance of the good feeling so long and happily maintained between them and their employees; which must almost inevitably ensue if claims for compensation, instead of being settled by a fixed payment in the way of insurance, are to depend on doubtful questions of fact and of legal construction, which must often lead to hostile litigation.

The Act restricts the claim for compensation to a maximum of three previous years' earnings (which, on average of the company's staff now insured, would be about £180), and to establish any claim, it must be proved that the accident did not occur from any fault of the person injured, or from unavoidable causes, but was caused by the negligence of the company or of tis responsible agents, including persons in charge of signals, points, engines, and trains.

It is obvious that in a majority of the sort of accidents which occur to the staff of a railway company in the discharge of their duties, it would be very difficult to prove that the case within the Act, and that the man himself had in no way contributed to the accident.
A wealthy company would have a very unfair advantage over a poor man if it chose to contest such doubtful cases in a court of law, but it is an advantage which could only be maintained at the risk of creating an ill feeling between the company and its staff.

Accordingly, the directors have wished to offer the men the alternative of continuing the present Insurance Fund on an improved basis, which should be so obviously more advantageous for them than the provisions of the Act, that they might fairly elect to adopt it.

The following are the alterations which it is proposed to make:--  

1. To double the amount of insurance in each case of death for the same monthly payment as are now made, i.e., the company practically to pay three fourths of one half of the premiums.

4 1/2d.

2. To double the time for which the weekly allowance (of 20s., 15s., and 10s.)
 in the three classes is payable if unable to return sooner to duty, viz., from twenty five weeks to fifty weeks.

3. In cases clearly proved by medical certificate to be ones of permanent disability, to let the weekly allowance run on until the amount paid equals what would have been payable in case of death, the directors being open to consider any proposals made to commute the remaining claim for a payment down, on its being shown that such a payment might be the means of enabling the man to earn a livelihood in some other way.

4. A man resuming work after an accident, and being unable to continue, may fall back on the fund as if he had never resumed work.

5. Payments made to a man for past accidents will not affect his claim in the case he should meet with another accident.

6. The insurance is absolute for all accidents, however caused, occurring to a man in the fair and ordinary discharge of his duty.

7. The directors have no objection to the men insured electing a committee of their own number, who may confer with the heads of departments, and, if necessary, with the Board in regards to any doubtful cases which may arise, or generally as to the working of the scheme of insurance.

8. Provisions will be made that the certificates of the company's medical officer, which shall be necessary in all cases, shall be given by the local medical officers (who act generally also for the Provident Society), so that no delay may occur in commencing the payments. The local medical officers will make monthly returns of the cases their charge, and the company's principal medical officer in London will also have to certify in such cases as the company may think necessary.

9. The policies will be made out as to give the men, as part of their contract of service, a clear legal claim against there company to the benefits offered, so long as they continue in the company's service and keep up their monthly payments, in return for which they will renounce themselves and representatives all claims under the Employers' Liability Act while so insured.

But if any man wishes to with draw from the Insurance Fund, he may do so by giving notice and paying up to the end of the month, in which case he gives up all claim on the fund, and reverts to his legal position under the Employers' Liability Act, just as if he had never joined the Insurance Fund.

The above are all the principal provisions, but I shall be ready to consider any further suggestions that may be made before the meeting next month.

S. Laing
London Bridge
November 24th 1880



To the Editor of the Railway Review

Sir, Inducements are being held out to railway servants to forego the legal rights to compensation for injuries conferred on them by the Employers' Liability Act. Mutual insurance funds are offered them as an equivalent for the advantages of the new law, towards which the companies undertake to contribute certain proportions of the premiums. The benefits of these proposals have been overstated, while zealous officers in service have taken on themselves to underrate the monetary advantages of the Act, carefully  ignoring its protective character.

While I agree with insurance, and constantly urge its practice on railway servants, I regard these schemes of mutual insurance as a misuse of its principles. They are raised solely for the purpose of setting a law which, by putting a penally on negligence, must result in the exercise of a greater amount of care for human safety. Whether regarded as a financial bargain, or as a protection, the mutual insurance schemes put forward in lieu of the Act are advantages to the employer, not to the workmen.

With your permission I venture to examine the value of the offer made to the Brighton Railway servants by Mr. Laing, M.P., the chairman of the company. I select this one for the reason that the terms are the most liberal, are devoid of some objectionable feature, and because I believe Mr. Laing is sincerely desirous of avoiding litigation which might possibly adversely affect the kindly relations now happily existing between the company and their servants. They come, too, with a better grace from a corporation that has dome more than other to ensure the safety of the staff and to provide relief to their injured workpeople. Mr. Laing asks his workpeople to accept an enhanced benefit under the existing Insurance Fund for the same amount of premium now paid, and forego the claim to compensation given under the Act.

For the purposes of the Insurance Fund the servants are divided into three classes, paying 6d., 4 /2d., and 3d. per month respectively. They are now promised an insurance of £200, £150, and £100 respectively at death by accident; and a relief 20s., 15s., and 10s. respectively per week during temporary disablement by accident, for any period not exceeding 50 weeks. The exact value of the offer can be determined by the experiences of the fund for the year 1879. In that period there were 10 cases of accidental death, and 694 cases of injury occurring among a total of 9,337 servants insured. Under the existing rules of the fund £850 were paid at the 10 deaths; but if the new scale had prevailed that amount would have been doubled, or £1,700. The 694 non fatal accidents entitled the injured to £1,370. But as under the new proposals some of the more serious cases would claim relief longer than 25 weeks, which is the present limit, a further sum £350 or £1,750 in all, would represent the total risk in non fatal cases under Mr. Laing's new proposals. The deaths and injuries of 1879 would thus represent claims under claims the new proposals amounting in the aggregate to £3,420. The whole of this sum would be covered by a premium of 7s. 4d. per year, or 7 1/2d. per month, from each of the 9,337 members insured in the fund. Assuming that the contribution of the second class, the members of which pay 4 1/2d. per month, is the mean of the whole, then the men would provide 4s. 6d. per year each , or a total of £2,100, leaving the company's share of the risk represented by £1,320, or 2s. 10d. per member per year. A part from the cost of management, the Brighton Company's proposal amounts to a gift of 3d. per month to each servant, for which gift the servants is to free the company of the liability, inconveniences, and litigation of the Employers' Liability Act. Where is age liberality of the offer?

The Brighton proposal misleads the public and the servants by the special provision made for the few cases of death which occur from accidents. The amounts approach the which might be recovered under the Act, and have the advantage of being secured in every case, though they are so chiefly by the men's own payments. It is in the non fatal cases where the scheme is found a bad financial bargain to the men. The insurance offered here is in no sense whatever a compensation, but simply a partial relief during the sickness following on an accident. Take the case of a driver earning £2 5s. per week, who loses a limb, say an arm. After amputation he is laid up for four months, when he if fit to do such work as a maimed man can do. He has received from the Insurance Fund 17 weeks' allowance, or £17, of which sum he has provided £10 by his own premiums. He has lost, however 17 weeks' wage, or £38 5s., and in the future will suffer a permanent loss in wages, possibly equal to £50 a year, owing to his impairment by the accident. In such cases the probability is that the Act would give the full limit of compensation, which in the case of  driver would equal 50 times the amount of benefit derived directly from the company under the mutual insurance scheme of Mr. Laing. There is not much generosity here!

I venture to say  that, owing to the favoured clause in the Act, more than one half of the serious accidents will be cases for compensation, and that viewed solely in the light of financial bargains, the Brighton Company's and other similar proposals, are advantages to the company, bur not to the men. The companies ask very much for a penny per week.

A comparison of the proportion of the deaths by accident on the Brighton line and the North Western line will at once supply a reason against contracting away the protection of the Act. On the Brighton the deaths number 11 per 10,000 workmen employed; on the North Western (according to Mr. Neison's investigations) they average 34 per 10,000 workmen employed. That the rate of fatalities on the North Western is three time higher than on the Brighton, is strong evidence that the conditions under which men labour on the line are less favourable to safety than on the other. I do not favour needless litigation, neither do I regard all litigation which will take place under the Act as mischievous. It will be a means to an end, and bring home to the authorities a full sense of their responsibilities for the safety of their servants.

The public should not judge harshly such servants as do contract away the Act. Although proposals of mutual insurance are put forward blandly, they are accompanied with no inconsiderable amount of pressure. In times past provident societies begun by the servants have been taken over by the companies, and membership made compulsory. The whole machinery and control of these organisations are in the employers' hands. Threats are now held out that if men refuse to contract the company out of the Act, the machinery of the existing societies shall be destroyed, and the men left to rebuild the societies for provident and insurance purposes. The gifts of the companies to such funds, if withdrawn, would not be serious loss, and could be made good by the payment of a few pence more each month. It is the entire disorganisation of their thrift societies which the men fear. Again, men who refuse to contract away the Act will be regarded with disfavour, promotion will be denied them, and many on some slight pretext discharged. The chairman of the largest line has further animated his intention of discharging all cripples, and refusing employment to any for the future. In short, men will be found to yield up the protection of the Act.

I am inundate with letters explaining the reason why men who wish to stand by the law find it a disadvantage to do so, and who declare that the Act to be thoroughly useful must be made binding, and contracts to evade its liability made illegal. In this view I entirely concur.
I am , sir, you, obedient servant
Fred W. Evans
Dec 7th 1880  



An open meeting of this branch was held on the 5th inst. at the New England Inn, to hear the address from Mr. F.W. Evans, the general secretary. The room was crowded to excess, not being large enough to hold all who desired to be present. An engine drive occupied the chair, and another the vice chair. Mr. Evans dealt at great length on the subject of the Employers' Liability Act, giving the reasons which guided him in his opinion against contracting away the Act for a mutual insurance. Taking the circular of the Brighton Company, he showed how little difference the new proposals made to the men. Deaths were few, and to benefit was only large in regard to them. If the drivers would pay a filing a month among themselves they could, without the aid of the company, secure all promised. Five drivers killed and seriously injured would, under the Act, secure as much compensation as the company's proportion of the insurance granted to all the 704 injured of 1879, assuming they had been paid on the new scale. He referred at length to the altered constitution of the society, and justified the changes in the Superannuation Fund. The Protection Fund's uses were explained and appreciated. The Orphan Fund, when dwelt on by the speaker, elicited the heartiest sympathy of his listeners. The hours movement also was explained at length. Mr. Evans's long address was frequently approved by cheers and expressions of assent. The chairman warmly complimented the speaker by saying that he was not appreciated as he ought to be and, like a good wife, railwaymen would not know his value till they lost. A discussion ensued on the insurance proposal, a driver pointing out that the Act would not cover train accidents, while the insurance was sure. Mr. Evans replied to the contrary, reading the clauses of the measure, and declaring that nice rules unobserved in practice would not shield the company from civil liabilities, though it might from criminal. He ridiculed the idea that because compensation was obtained drivers and others would be punished for manslaughter. how was it with passenger cases? 

Votes of thanks moved by member of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, brought a pleasant meeting to a close.



A further meeting of delegates of the servants in the various departments was held at Brighton on the 7th inst. Mr. Laing, accompanied by there leading officers of the line, was present to receive decision come to by the servants. The delegates reported that though the men were not entirely unanimous, they were of opinion that a large majority favoured the company's offer, which they considered most generous. Mr. Laing reiterated that no influence would be brought to force the adoption of the offer, but that every man would have the opportunity of signing the contract evading the Act with his eyes open. The forms would be printed and issued for that purpose. Mr. Evans, of the Amalgamated Society, had been invited by Mr. Knight to attend the meeting, but sent a telegram regretting that an important engagement detained him in London.



The above contemporary devotees its leading article to the railway insurance proposals, from which the we take the following extract :--

A very clever and insidious proposal is likely to be extensively made to working men by employers who wish to contract themselves out of the recent Liability Act. Workmen are to be invited to "contract out of the Act."

We hear a good deal about freedom of contract in our day, but what is this? Is a man to be compelled to contribute to a fund in order that his employer may know at once the maximum liability which he can be fixed under an Act of Parliament? Suppose a man to decline to contribute to the fund of a company or works in order that he might reserve his right under the Act, is it to be understood that he will not be employed, or that he will be discharged if he refuses? If so, where is the freedom of labour which must precede freedom of contract? If the example of the London and Brighton Railway Company is followed generally, all that working men will have gained by the new Act will be some additional fixed sum in the case of death, a part of which is to be the result of their own contributions, and an additional number of weeks of seek pay, to which also they will have contributed. Now, the Act of Parliament intended that both for death and maiming a jury should be called upon to asses compensation. Every accident requires to be considered upon its merits, and in view of all the surrounding circumstances. It was intended that it should be so by the Act. That Act was not passed to meet the cases between employers and employed who had previously voluntarily agreed with each other. It was passed to change all the conditions of risk under which accidents now happen, from a belief that a good many of them were the result of negligence, and it will totally defeat the very intention of the Act if it is met by an insurance guarantee like many of those now proposed, and of which that of the Brighton Company appears to be the best. We see very clearly that if the Act is thus set aside a very great injury will be done to working men generally, and that in others employments of a precarious character not so permanent as that of companies we shall soon have men asked to sign declarations of exemption from compensation under the Act. It is for men themselves to decide how far a law passed for they special benefit, for their security, for the future of wives and children, and in the hope of increasing the safety of working operations, shall be set aside by devices bearing on their face a benevolent character, but which are really only designed to make it certain that the employers' liability is reduced to an item of arithmetic, capable of being distributed over profits, and of no consequence to employers, or any incentive to greater care and a higher regard for life and limb.



On Monday night the following memorandum was issued to the men of the goods station of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway, Willow Walk, viz. :--

"A meeting will be held in the New Granary at 9 o'clock a.m. tomorrow (Tuesday) to elect two representatives of the outdoor staff to attend a meeting at Brighton on the subject of the Employers' Liability Act."

Thi taion comprises about 670 men, and however ill or well it may speak for those concerned, when the meeting was convened the attendance was unusually small -- not more than one tenth mustered.

G. W. White Esq., took the chair and, after the usual preliminary proposals, it was undecided that Messrs. File, Piper and carman Kent should proceed to Brighton by first train.

There was no discussion as to the merits or demerits of the directors' proposals, as all appeared to be unanimously of opinion that some are so framed that little, if any, fault could be found.

However, the chairman mentioned the importance of so serious a question, and solicited all concerned to make known any amendment occurring to their mind; but as nothing was suggested, the proceedings terminated by returning the chairman a vote of thanks.

About an hour later a second meeting took place amongst the clerks of the above station, but the affair seemed to be of so little importance that any further comment, more than election of two representatives, would be superfluous.

I understand they do not consider themselves bound in any way to adhere to any proposition made by way of insurance, as they are not connected with the outside working department.

Yours Faithfully 
A. B. C.



Sir, --- Please allow me a small space to call attention to the working of the above company's insurance fund.

It may be in the recollection of your readers that before the Employers' Liability Act come into force this company offered their employees a revised scale of insurance in consideration of their contracting themselves out of the Liability Act. Well, sir, the company's offer appeared, in a pecuniary sense, a very liberal one, and I believe a large of the employees accepted it on the distinct understanding that the new policies should be issued, the company giving an undertaking that the policies would be made out so that they would be legal in a court of law, if, unfortunately, the company disputed any members claim, and he was compelled to bring an action against the company to recover his insurance. I have no hesitation in say that this undertaking on the part of the company caused a great many men to accept the insurance who otherwise would have preferred the protection of the Act. Now, sir, what do we find? The company issued circulars to the staff last month, setting forth the advantage of the insurance in preference to the Act, and at the foot was a space for the men to sign "Yes" or "No," if they would accept the insurance or not. These circulars were sent in duly signed about the middle of December, and from that we heard no more about the insurance until the 13th instant, when, to the surprise of those who had accepted the company's proposals, they found their contributions deducted on the pay sheet, without even consulting the men as to which class they would prefer to belong. Those who had not previously belonged to the insurance were stopped at second class rate, and as yet we have not had any policies issued to us.

Now, what position do we find ourselves in? Why, neither under the protection of the Employers' Liability Act nor the company's revised scale of insurance. On asking for our policies, we are told they will be forthcoming.

Forthcoming, indeed! But why is our money stopped without something to show for it? Suppose, unfortunately, an accident should happen to me, where is my guarantee for compensation? Why, I have none. I am at the mercy of the company, unable as I am to obtain protection under the Act of Parliament. Call you this justice? 

I am, sir, yours obediently 
January 24th, 1881


1ST APRIL 1881

Sir. -- I am glad to see the letter from "J.G.D." in this week's issue of the Railway Review (not posted on Warwick website), and now a beg a small space to enter my protest against the action of our company in delaying the policies. much dissatisfaction is being expressed by all grades of the service, and I have ventured to ask our chief clerk on three occasions the question, "When are we to have our new policies?" The reply always was, "Oh they will come right enough by and by, as there are so many thousands of them to send out, and it takes a long time." This may or may not be an official answer to our query, but it is all we get; but seeing that it is now more than three months since we signed the company's new forms, it is surely time that we had the policies, especially as they are always printed and not written ones. It is my humble opinion, sir, that in view of Mr. Macdonald's Bill becoming law, the respective companies have found perhaps, that they have been acting illegally in asking their servants to contract away the Employer's Liability Act. However, be this as it may, it is high time that this matter was settled, as it is of vital interest to us and our families. Thinking you for the opportunitirs of ventilating the many grievances of railwaymen, and wishing the Railway Review as ever increasing circulations,
I am, sir, yours,


8TH APRIL 1881

Sir, - Just a line in reply to "J.G.D., Constant Reader," in your last issue. Every attention is being paid to the working of the Mutual Insurance Society by the committee and the officials of the company. New policies will be issued, probably in the course of a few weeks. Remember the old adage, things done in a hurry are seldom well done. If "Constant Reader" has any cause to complain, why does he not refer fall particulars to the Committee of Appeal?

I am, sir, yours, &c.,
Brighton Loco Depart, March 30. 


15TH APRIL 1881


Sir, - With reference to the letter in the Review, of the 8th inst., on this subject, "Ironsides" says "every attention is being paid to the working of the Mutual Insurance Society." If that is so, why are the policies not to hand now, this being the fourth month from the time they were supposed to come in force? "Ironsides" old adage is a very poor excuse for the delay to the policies. No doubt he thinks "Better late than never;" but I say "Better never late." I would refer "Ironsides" to the letter in the Review of the 1st April from "Pioneer" on the above subject. He ("Ironsides") knows very well why I do not refer full particulars to the Committee of Appeal. It would be no use for one man to refer full particulars to the Committee of Appeal.

But, sir, I trust to the goodness of your valuable paper. Wishing the moiety and it every success,

I am, sir, yours,
J.D.G. A Constant Reader
London, April 9th, 1881


10TH JUNE 1881


Sir, - I t is now six months ago since the Brighton company invited their servants to contract out of the provisions of the Employers' Liability Act offering certain proposals of addition insurance, which would require the old policies to be withdrawn and fresh ones issued. but up to the present time no move has been made in the matter.

I find in making inquiry that several policies were withdrawn at the commencement of the year, thus leaving some of the men without security for getting benefit, as the policies are the only things to show the contributions to the insurance fund.

If the company mean making a move in the matter it is high time they commenced, as I think six months is a reasonable time for them to have given the printer an order, and the new, long look-for policy to have been issued for which every one is waiting.

Perhaps "Ironsides" might enlighten us on the subject.

Yours truly


15TH AUGUST 1881


Sir, - Referring to the above, I regret to say our new policies are not yet to hand. "Ironsides" old adage is nearly worn out by this time. Perhaps he can give some more valuable information concerning the delay, this being the eight month since we signed the forms contracting out of the Liability Act. Believe me, sir, there are a good many men  sorry they ever accepted the company's proposals, considering the shabby way they are carrying out their arrangements. I shall be glad to "Ironsides" reply in next week's issue.

Yours, &c.,




Sir, - "Atalanta," in your last issue, appears to be anxious to hear from "Ironsides" respecting the policies on the Brighton line. Permit me to say that I consider the directors of the L.,B., & S.C. Company have had other work for their solicitors of more vital importance to the interests of the company. This, sir, is I believe, the sole reasons why the policies have not yet been issued. I admit there are numerous inquiries respecting them, but men are content to wait for them, seeing that they (the company) meet all demands made upon them, according to the new arrangement. "Atalanta's" remarks respecting a good many men being sorry they accepted the company's proposals, and the shabby way they are carrying out their arrangements, are false and misleading to those of your readers unacquainted with the Brighton line. We have at present ten persons in receipt of weekly allowance from the insurance fund at Brighton; there is very little irregularity in the payments,  only two cases having come to my knowledge, which, upon inquiry, I found to be caused by the secretary in proper time, thus causing a week's delay in payment - no fault of the company, but of the claimants.

I remain, your &c.,
Sec. pro tem., Mutual Insurance Committee




It has been a matter of surprise to the workmen of the Brighton Railway that the insurance policies promised by Mr. Laing early in January have not yet been issued. notwithstanding the opinion of the Attorney General expressed in a letter to the General Secretary that a workman can by contract abrogate the rights of his legal representatives at his death, we are of opinion that the Employers' Liability Act gives to the wives, children, and others relatives of workmen a distinct legal position which the workman in his lifetime has no power to control. This, we venture to think, is the true reason why the Brighton Company have not issued the insurance policies to their workmen. The words of the Act are as follows:-
"Where personal injuries are caused by a workman by reason of (here follows the description of negligences) the workman, or in case the injury results in death, the legal personal representatives of the workman, and any persons entitled in case of death, shall have the same right of compensation and remedies against the employer as if the workman had not been a workman of nor in the service of the employer, nor engaged in his work."

In the event of any railway servant who has contracted out of the Act being killed either on the L.,B., and S.C., L. and N.W., or G.E. Railways, we sincerely hope that this contention will be raised in an action by his legal representatives, notwithstanding the payments from the insurance fund. 



On Saturday last the engine drivers and firemen of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway, stationed at Portsmouth, presented their foreman, Mr. C.C. Hawkins, with a handsome gold ring set with a diamond. The ring was made to open, and bore the inscription :- "Presented to Mr. C.C. Hawkins, by the Enginemen and Firemen of the London, Brighton, and South coast Railway."   

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