Dispute 09 – February 27th – Meeting & Calculation of Proposed Reduction

February 1885

February 27th 1885.

The Denaby Main Dispute.

Meeting At Mexborough

A meeting of miners now out of employment at Denaby Main was held at the lodge-room, Mason´s Arms Inn, Mexborough, on Tuesday, for the purpose of hearing the `roll call` in order that any person who may have found employment should be struck off the list of the association.

After the names had been called over, a discussion took place on the results which had attended the labours of the men who had been appointed to solicit aid for the 1,200 men out of employment.

Mr. W. Chappell, the secretary of the association, also attended and addressed the meeting. Before going into the question of the Denaby Main dispute, he asked the meeting to listen very carefully to the question he was going to ask – whether to their knowledge the pit had been flung open and the men invited to return to work on any terms whatever since the last interview with the manager.

The reply was that the pit had never been thrown open.

Mr. Chappell said the answer was a very important one, and was fully in harmony with his opinion on that particular point.

With regard to the question as to the action of their own delegate during the last fortnight, he might be allowed to tender an explanation.

The Council meeting on the 9th inst., in response to a request from the men in the Leen Valley, Notts. for Mr. Chappell to attend a series of meetings there, their own delegate, who was president of the association, was requested to proceed to that county, he knowing that district well.

Meetings had been held at Annesley Woodhouse, Hucknall, Newstead, Kimberly, Butcher Wood, and Ilkeston. Mr. Beardsley also attended the Miners´ Federation meeting in their behalf, and a favourable resolution was passed, as likewise was the case at all the other meetings, promising assistance to the Denaby Main men.

Mr. Hopkins, the general agent for the federation, with Mr. Chappell, drew up a circular embodying the resolution of the Council meeting, 5,000 of which have been circulated at the various pits in the county.

The results attending those meetings had already been felt, and their position, he had no doubt, would improve from week to week.

Their case had also been laid by himself before the miners of Northumberland, and the executive had made a grant to the extent of their powers without laying the matter before the general body of the men. He expected that the question was being further considered.

The Amalgamated Engineers had sent a grant of £20 ;

The Amalgamated Joiners and Carpenters £15 ;

The Manchester Typographical Association £5 ; while other trades associations had sent contributions ranging from £1 to £5.

As he travelled from place to place, he was often met with the statement that much distress prevailed amongst the inhabitants of Denaby Main.

So far as the Unionists were concerned no want need exist in any family if the money were properly appropriated, as the scale ranged from 16s, 15s., 14s., 13s., and 12s. per week downward – the great bulk of men being married.

Although he was not a teetotaller, he urged the men to avoid as much as possible devoting their scale pay to the purchase of that which, under the present circumstances, they could easily do without. ( Applause )

He then said he wished to post the meeting up as to how he substantiated his statement relative to the amount of the reduction asked by the Company, and he hoped the men would follow him very closely and try to retain what he said in their memories in order that they might be able to answer any questions on that point from persons who did not understand everything to do with the working of collieries.

He wished the miners and the general public to understand that at Denaby Main, for special reasons, everything which the men produced in the way of coal had to be sent out of the pit. The various divisions of that coal were as follows :-

House and seconds – 16.89,

Best steam coal – 51.68,

Nuts and smudge – 31.48,

Altogether – 100 tons.

One hundred tons at 1s. 4 ½ d. ( the old rate ) amounted to £6 17s 6d.

The same number at the proposed rate would be

Best and house coal68.52 tons, at 1s.6d. per ton £5 2s. 9 ½ d. ;

Nuts and smudge 31.48 tons, at 8d. per ton, £1 0s 1d.,

the one hundred tons amounting to £6 2s 10 ½ d. – a difference between the old and new rates for the same amount of production of 14s. 7 ½ d.

He went on to show that to the 31.48 tons of nuts and smudge must be added, in consequence of filling by hand instead of with the shovel as before, 10%, and he must say that at other places where he had made that statement, either before miners directly or before men who understand the working of the collieries, they had always said that he had understated the amount, and that it would be more than 10%.

However, for argument´s sake – and he believed he was very near the mark – he placed it at 10%, which would make the amount of `small´ to be paid for at 8d. per ton 40%, leaving the matter as follows :-

Sixty tons at 1s.6d. – £ 4 10s.

Forty tons at 8d. – £1 6s. 8d.

Total – £5 16s. 8d.

A difference of £1 0s. 10d. between the old rate for one hundred tons and the proposed new rate.

He had also been challenged by the men as to whether the difference would not be more than he was about to state – viz. that if a trammer could fill one hundred tons under the old system in a given time he would only be able to fill ninety tons under the new system in the same period, making a difference of 10% in the production.

That would be – 54 tons of round coal at 1s. 6d – £4 1s.

36 tons of `small´ at 8d – £1 5s.

Total – £5 5s.

a difference between the two modes of payment of £1 12s 6d. in every one hundred tons against the men. This was equal to a reduction of 25.64%.

Respecting the packing question, it was so mixed up with the coal getting at Denaby Main that, with the same number of men in one stall as was the case before the stoppage, if the men lost the packing it would make a very serious difference.

He felt confident that nothing which had happened had taken place through any misdemeanour on the part of the men. He was totally unable to give an opinion as to the cause of the men´s being out of employment, and he, in common with all present, whatever might be the differences existing, hoped they would soon be settled, so that the men might be in full swing again.

Until that time arrived, he hoped the men would conduct themselves in a way worthy of public patronage, acting so that no one would have reason to be complaining about their conduct.

It was a serious matter to have such a large body of men thrown on to the Association, but he was happy to say that they had been able to pay the members on full scale ; he hoped that however long the dispute lasted the men would be able to procure a sufficient supply of the `staff of life´ for the support of themselves and their families.

He also wished to draw attention to the meeting of the fact that a Liberal Association had been formed at Rotherham, to which division Denaby Main be -longed, and it was his duty to lay the matter before them in order that they might select a candidate to be placed on the Council of that association.

A sub-committee had been formed from the executive of the association, which had power to arrange district meetings..

He drew the attention of the meeting to the name of Mr. W.S. Shirley, of Doncaster, a gentleman whom he believed would be invited to contest the Doncaster division in opposition to the Hon. A.E.G. Hardy, who had been adopted as the Conservative candidate. He believed Mr. Shirley was an able man, and of such advanced Liberal principles as would enable him to support in Parliament, if sent there, the full programme which they, as a body of miners, might wish to place before the House of Commons. – Mr. James Astbury said he was pleased that the subject had been taken up – Mr. Alfred Astbury proposed, and it was seconded and carried unanimously, ” That the committee of the Lodge take the matter in hand at once and bring it before the next meeting, with a view of selecting a candidate to represent them at the Council meeting at Rotherham.”

Mr. Chappell having explained that for every hundred of the population they are entitled to a member on the Council, the meeting terminated.

A Miners´ Conference in connection with the crisis at Denaby Main colliery was held at the Ship Inn, Swinton, on Wednesday night. The opinion was freely expressed that the Denaby Main men were justified in resisting the reduction desired by the masters, and it was resolved that the needed support be given while the struggle lasted