Job Descriptions


A person who operates and maintains the belt.

Surface worker, responsible for aspects of the operation of the conveyor belts used for transporting coal

Check Inspector

Official of the union appointed by the underground employees to look after interests regarding safety. The duties are laid down in the regulations governing mining operations.


Mineworker selected and employed by contract workers to check employers’ tallies of their output; often a Lodge official.


Typically a young mine worker, responsible for clipping the coal skips onto the hauling rope.

Contract mineworker

A worker paid according to a work contract relating to output rather than according to a day-wage; a face worker of wheeler.

The mining of coal on a contract basis where the miner is paid for the amount of coal mined

Craft –worker

In the mining industry, a term identifying a worker who belonged to a craft-based union rather than the Miners’ Federation.

Day-wage worker

A worker paid by time rather than by output.  The mining industry had day-wage and contract miners.


Supervisor in charge of a section or district of a mine, and all employees working therein. The statutory duties, responsibility and authority of a deputy are set down in the regulations governing mining.

A mineworker with the lowest level of supervisorial job; requiring a Deputy’s Certificate from Technical College.  According to miners, deputies should have been concerned with safety issues, but were often forced to become guardians of the employers’ production levels


A miner working at the coal face itself; the elite of the unskilled workers in the mining industry and paid by contract.




Person appointed by the Government (Department of Mines) under the mining regulations. His/Her duties include the making of examinations of the mine to ascertain whether the regulations relating to the operations are being observed.


The management official in day-to day control of a coal mine; qualified by Manager’s Certificate form Technical College.


An underground supervisor in coal mines; intermediate in status between a deputy and an undermanager.

Pit-brow lasses

Women working at the mine surface


An experienced mineworker who is responsible for breaking down the roof of mine roadways in order to enlarge or extend the roadways


Day-wage worker responsible for laying and maintaining rail tracks underground.


A surface –worker, responsible for screening the size of coal produced at a mine.


Day-wage worker


A miner, qualified by a certificate from a Technical College, who is responsible for the use of explosives underground; has some supervisorial powers in relation to safety issues.


A high-ranking managerial officer in the coal industry; responsible for a number of mines and managers.


Mineworker who does not work underground.

Under - Manager

A position holding responsibilities defined by law. An undermanager is usually the person in charge of underground mining operations on a shift and is next in authority under a manager or deputy manager. Requiring a 2nd class certificate of competency or certificate of service.

Superior to deputies and overmen, but responsible to a manager.


A surface worker involved in washing dust or impurities from coal 


Usually a young contract worker; responsible for using pit ponies to transport coal skips to and from the faceworkers.

Pit ponies

Horses used to transport coal skips underground.

Occupational terminology


Ballot regularly conducted among contract mineworker to distribute work sites


When factors in the control of employers lowered the output of contract miners, workers sought compensation payments, or considerations, for these factors.  Negotiations over considerations produced many industrial disputes.


Lunch or lunch-time. Meal eaten by miners in the middle of their shift.


A limit collectively self-imposed by contract miners on their output


Night Shift, from about 11 PM till 7 am, depending on individual mine sites.


A condition of irregular operation, once common in the mining industry because of overcapacity and the over-supply of the market for coal; a condition leading to stand downs, often at short notice.


One man working one shift comprises a man shift. Output of coal in tonnes per man-shift is accepted as a measure of the efficiency of the operation.


Common eye disorder among coal miners


A chronic disease of the lungs that is caused by inhaling coal dust.

Red Roll

List of miners killed in industrial accidents

Standard Mortality Ratio (SMR)

Actual deaths as a percentage of expected deaths for any given population or cause of death

Stay-in strike

A strike based on the occupation of the underground workings of a mine. 


Union dues

Water money

Additional specified amount of money paid to a person called on to work in a wet place. 


Metcalfe, Andrew, W., For freedom and Dignity: historical agency and class structures in the Coalfields of NSW, Allen & Auwin Sydney 1988.

Tonks, Ed. Coal mining in the Hunter Valley, 1979.

University of Wollongong. Mine Glossary. From . Retrieved on 14/03/2013.

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