Mexborough and Swinton Times, January 1881
The Denaby Main Miners.
The Men On Strike.
It is now very probable that the Denaby Main miners, who were thrown out of work about a month ago, owing to the stoppage of the pit, will notwithstanding what has recently been said to the contrary – continue idle for even a longer period. It was expected that operations would be resumed at the colliery last Wednesday, but Mr. Warburton, the manager, has informed the men he will require them to give up the `packing´ to what are known as `bye-work men´.
The men positively refuse to return to work on these terms, as they say there will be a difference in their wages of something like 25%. Consequently, unless some different arrangement be made, it is greatly to be feared that the gratifying intelligence of the hands being again soon employed will not be well grounded.
Many of the families are in exceedingly poor circumstances, scarcely having sufficient to subsist upon. On Saturday, the managers of the Denaby Main School gave 100 gallons of soup to the miners´ children, and Mrs. Slater, landlady of the Reresby Arms beer-house has given away several hundred loaves, obtained from subscriptions she has solicited on their behalf.
The Miners´ Union have also granted to the men half the allowance sanctioned at Barnsley some weeks ago – 1s. for each collier and 6d. for each child.
The manager has, it is intimated, that if the miners contract themselves out of the Liability Act the company will continue their subscription to the relief fund ; if the Act be allowed by them to take it´s course this money will be withdrawn.
Meeting Of The Men.
A largely-attended meeting of Denaby Main miners was held at the Mason´s Arms, Mexborough, on Tuesday morning, to take into consideration the question of `packing´ which it is desired to take from the colliers to give to the ` bye-work men´ or `datallers´
One of the deputation who waited upon the manager ( Mr. Warburton ) on the previous day said they asked if the `packing´ could be put on the ton as it had been done in bygone days. He asked what they had been paid for it on the ton, and they replied from 2 ½ d. to 5d. He then replied, ” I can´t give you anything of the kind.” That was the only arrangement they made with him about it. (Laughter)
A Miner said a proposition had been passed that they do not sacrifice the `packing´, and they told the manager that. He then asked what they had had a ton, as stated. It was, he ( the speaker ) thought, impossible to put `the places´ on by the ton ; if they could do so it would be a very difficult matter.
With regard to the Liability Act, they told him they did not consider it very advisable to take any decided action on the matter at present ; they would wait and see what was being done by the district. They thought if they formed a mutual affair, as was suggested, they would be contracting themselves out of the Act.
Another Miner said at the time they had `packing´ by the ton their `gates´ were all kept straight, but that was not so now ; and it was out of all reason to suppose they would agree to the terms offered. (Cheers)
Another Miner said they asked the manager what he would do with the men on the `bank´ if the `datallers´ took the `packing´, but the manager gave them no answer about it. (A voice ; He´s too arbitrary)
A Miner : I make a proposition that we don´t lose the `packing´.
Another Miner : I will second that.
The Chairman : I want us to be very careful in what we do. I told Mr. Chappell that if the manager wanted to take the `packing´ he had better take the `coaling´ as well. (Hear, hear)
The men could not live at Denaby without it. They had hitherto had a difficulty in subsisting on what they were paid, and he was sure they could not give up the `packing´. ( Cheers )
Another Miner stated that at the committee meeting held to consider the question, those present were in favour of the men being paid for the `packing´ as they had been. They considered it would be very detrimental to their interests if it were taken off them. (Hear, hear)
A Miner : Let´s have a percentage before we start again. (Laughter)
The resolution was then put to the meeting a carried unanimously..
The Chairman observed that certain of the colliers had been asked to return to work, but they had refused, unless they were to be remunerated as they were before the lock-out. (Cheers)
He also informed the meeting that Mr. James Montagu, of Melton Hall, had kindly sent them £5, and promised to give them more during the week, and the trades-people of Mexborough had been very kind to them. (Cheers)
Mr. Peter Waddington had given them £1 : Mr. W.H.J. Mills 5s. : and Messrs. Jowitt and Tiptaft 5s. ( Hear, hear, and a Voice : We are much obliged to them )
When they came out of Messrs. Jowitt´s shop, he was told to be sure and go to Mr. Allison´s as they would be sure to get something there ; but he had not yet found Mr. Allison in. They had received several shillings and were getting on nicely.
The Chairman also said that a Council meeting was being held at Rotherham that day, and their delegate would be there. The position on the Denaby Main miners would come up for consideration. He thought it possible that they might contribute more to their relief fund than they had done, and he would suggest that the funds which they had in hand be not distributed until they knew what the Council had agreed to give them.
This was agreed to.
Votes of thanks to the Chairman and Reporters having been passed, the meeting was adjourned until the following day.
The Second Meeting
On Wednesday morning a second meeting of the miners was held at the Mason´s Arms, the room being crowded.
One of the deputation who was deputed to wait upon the manager respecting the `packing´ said, he reported the resolution passed unanimously on the previous day, viz., that the men would not return to work unless this was allowed them as hitherto, and Mr. Warburton replied, ” Then you may consider I have no men.” The deputation waited for about ten minutes without anything else being said. The manager then stated that he had nothing else to say to them and they with -drew. Just before they left, he sent word by someone that all coal was to be stopped from going out.
A Miner : Is it to be understood that coal is to be stopped from everyone living at the place ?
A reply in the affirmative was given.
The Chairman said the delegate appointed to attend the Council meeting at Rotherham would now tell them what had transpired there relative to Denaby Main.
The Delegate reported that the Liability Act was the first question discussed. It was unanimously decided that the miners in the district do not contract them -selves out of the Act, but they stand by it.
The Council now considered that they at Denaby Main were now on strike, and they agreed to support them to the utmost. (Loud cheers)
The Council said there had been sufficient reductions at Denaby Main, and they would not allow anything more to be deducted from the men´s wages.
( Cheers ) The time had come for advances ; they would not allow reductions.
The men were to stick out, knowing that they would receive the support of the district. They were to have strike pay from that day. Mr. Chappell would meet a deputation that afternoon.
The Chairman thought the report of the delegate was very satisfactory.
He should like to hear any remarks from those present.
A Miner observed that some men were working, and he would propose that they stop all such.
The Chairman said they had to suffer reductions through men running to work and keeping others out. If all would act in concert and keep out together, the sooner the pit would again be open to them. (Hear, hear)
He did not think it would be wise to pass a resolution compelling those who went to work to leave it.
A Miner : ” Let´s do what they do in Lancashire.”
The Chairman : No that will not do.
A Miner suggested that any resolution they would like to pass should be left until the meeting to be held later on.
It was proposed and agreed that the meeting should be adjourned until 4-00 p.m.
A Miner : I will move that Mr. Chappell and the deputation who wait upon the manager tell him we are determined to have the 5%, which we conceded, returned.
This was seconded.
The Chairman suggested that the motion be altered a little, and that it read,” that we try to use our endeavours to persuade them to cease work.”
A Miner said at Barnsley the men were asking for a 10% advance.
Another Miner : We must leave that till we get the 5% returned. (Hear, hear)
A question was asked if, supposing the men who went to work were persuaded not to do so, would they receive any support, that was if they were not in the Union ?
It was stated that they would have to stand their chance the same as the other men in the district.
The meeting was then adjourned.
The Third Meeting.
According to the resolution passed at the meeting in the morning, Mr. Chappell and the deputation waited upon Mr. Warburton, the manager of the colliery, and at a crowded meeting in the evening stated the result of the interview.
Mr. Chappell stated at length the views thrown out, pro and con, as to taking away the `packing´ from the men, and he said Mr. Warburton, ultimately agreed to make a little alteration with regard to it to what had been formerly stated, he having been shown that it would make a decided reduction in the wages of the men. He was willing to take a man from the `stall´ and to allow the money earned to be divided among the men working therein less part of the amount made by the `packing´ which he stated would be an arrangement to the advantage of the men. ( Several voices called out that it would be a disadvantage )
Well, he ( Mr. Chappell ) thought this was a question to be settled on the basis of an average.
A Voice : But we have fully discussed that question and it won´t do. We cannot live at Denaby Main without the `packing´.
Mr. Chappell observed that on the second occasion that they saw the manager he agreed only to take `gate packs´ saying he would allow the `gob packs´ or `waste packs´ to remain in their charge. That certainly reduced the difficulty, but not to any extent which would meet their views. That day he had made another offer, as he had stated.
A Voice : But it won´t do. We can´t agree to it.
Mr. Chappell said that the Denaby Main delegate who attended the Council meeting on the previous day told the other delegates that the manager of the colliery proposed to take this `packing´, but would not agree to take out the man whose wages had been paid from the money paid for the `packing´. Also that Mr. Warburton held it as his right to consider whether in his opinion as many additional coals could not be sent out of the working place, to make up for the deficiency or loss of the `packing´. That was how matters were placed before the Council. It being stated that it was impossible to get them into the mind to go back to work, on account of this loss of `packing´, and without an understanding that a man was going to be taken out of the `place´, the Council fully agreed with the Delegate that, if Mr. Warburton persisted in not agreeing to take out a man, and he took the `packing´, then they were to be supported, inasmuch as the Council held it to be a reduction.
That day, after discussing the matter for an hour and a half, they showed by pay-notes that the proposition made by the manager could not prove otherwise than to be a reduction. They took a pay-note from a bundle of others and on that note there were 15s 2d for `waste packs´ and 15s 2d for `gate packs´. They said,” you cannot dispute Mr. Warburton that the loss this `pack´ means nothing else but a loss of 15s 2d.”
He replied,” I admit that.” They pressed the question on the instance shown, but he did not apparently like to yield to that, simply because he had a conviction that an additional tonnage could be sent out of the `place´ to make up for the deficiency. He told Mr. Warburton that he thought his conviction was based more upon what he would like than actual fact. ( Hear, hear ) They pressed the question again about a man being taken out, and he ultimately yielded. He told him it was an important matter, and the men wanted a fair understanding on the question. He said to the manager, ” You have Mr. Slack and the officials going round the colliery every day, and they will be able to report to you.” ” Oh,” he says,” But I have a report here,” and he got down a pair of `clams´ which clasped a lot of notes together. ” This ” he said, ” is the report I get every day, with the quantities sent, and with every `stall´ singly.”
He (Mr. Chappell ), replied that as that was so he could see whether the men were doing their duty.
The manager answered that he could, and added : ” There´s a `stall´ here ( pointing out one ) where 40 tons are sent in one day, but, I find, in three days only 16 are sent. Now you must admit with me that there must be something wrong somewhere.” He (Mr. Chappell) said they were bound to say that there was.
The manager then said he would agree to what they had suggested, but if Mr. Slack reported to him that a certain `stall´ was not doing the work that it ought, he should insist upon another man being put there, in order that the `stall´ might produce as much coal as it ought to do.
( A Voice : “Good night” : and another : ” That´ll not do.” )
Mr. Chappell replied, they must not have a lot of imaginary difficulties.
They would never prove that Mr. Warburton would not carry out what he promised unless they tried him.
( A Voice : ” We have tried him enough already.”)
Mr. Warburton said the plan he had suggested would put the `stall´ he referred to in a better position.
( A Miner : Nothing of the sort ).
He ( Mr. Chappell ) should state that a serious statement had been made by Mr. Warburton, and it was that he had a system of bribery going on, and he was determined that he would put a stop to it. He was perfectly satisfied that what he said was true, and there was no way of putting a stop to it, except doing as he proposed.
Mr. Chappell spoke at considerable length, and a lively `scene´ followed.
One miner after another protested that the 5% would have to be returned to them before they returned, as well as the `packing´.
Without the `packing´ one of them said, they could not subsist, whilst another observed, as they had given the 5% to the colliery company to assist them in fighting the railway company, they ought to have it back again now, especially as the colliery company had won the day.
The men refuted the statement that any bribery had been carried on, and the Chairman said he had never seen anything of the kind whilst he had been at the colliery.
From what had been stated to him that day, Mr. Chappell said, he had not the slightest fault to find with the men with regard to the question of `packing´.
It was only natural that they should want to keep it. But they could not go to the manager and say he was not to manage the pit as he liked. What they had to do was to have some equivalent whereby they would receive no less than what they were being paid before. ( Hear, hear )
It was ultimately unanimously decided, ” That the manager´s answer is not satisfactory to the meeting, and we desire to know if he has any other proposition to make to us.”
Mr. Chappell said the resolution should be forwarded to Mr. Warburton.
The meeting then broke up.