How the Men were Paid
Many underground miners were paid based on the amount of ground they had broken, measured monthly.
Explosives and other equipment were still purchased from the mine. Using too much could mean a very small wage packet or even owing the mine money. For other mining jobs, there was a clear pay scale. Wages from mining were generally higher than other occupations locally, such as farming or fishing.
‘Tutworkers’ were men who did a specific job, like driving tunnels to meet the lodes. They were paid for each fathom (1.82m; 6 feet) of ground that the tunnel was advanced. Mid-19th century average earnings were 11 shillings (55p per week). Modern miners at Geevor were paid for the amount of ground they had broken.
Tribute miners bid against each other for an area or ‘pitch’ to work. Miners working on ‘tribute’ received a proportion of the value of the ore they extracted. The miners would gather outside the count house and the manager would read out the places available for tribute work. The miners would then bid for the contract. Small teams of miners would make a contract or ‘bargain’ with the mine owner to work part of the lode at a particular rate per ton of ore raised. They paid for their own tools, candles and explosives which were deducted from their earnings. On average they earned 25 shillings (£1.25) a week. Miners were earning more then an average wage, local farm workers and fishermen earned a lot less.
In the Modern Geevor mine, there was a clear scale of pay depending on the job a miner was doing. Miners working underground could earn the best money by working on contract. Trade Unions frequently intervened in matters of pay and working conditions.In the late 1970s and 1980s Geevor miners could earn very good money when tin prices were high. Wages from mining were generally higher than for other occupations.