April 19th 1878.
Miners´ Meeting At Denaby Main.
200 Men Present – Resolutions passed
On Wednesday evening last a meeting of the miners at Denaby Main Colliery was held in a field a short distance from the pit. About 200 of the men were present. Mr. Joseph Jarvis was unanimously called upon to preside.
In opening the proceedings the chairman remarked that the object of the present meeting was to make them as miners more united together.
Mr. Frith was the first speaker. He said he had not a set speech but would let them have a common sense word or two. He called upon them all to be united together and consider their own interests. Their destiny was to some extent in their own hands and depended on their being united together. The object of this meeting was to endeavour to get them to enter the Association and stand on the defensive, so as to maintain a fair day´s wage for a fair day´s work. At the same time they wanted them to do as far as possible what was right between them and employers. Though trade was in such a depressed state there was more coal being produced in England at the present time than was ever known in the history of man, yet there were many out of employment. It behoves them to become organised and federated together so as to consolidate the association. It became more and more necessary every day. He had known places in the district where they had broken up their unity and those men the very next week had a reduction of 10 %. Employers were trying to break through the standard prices therefore it behove them to look out. He wanted all to work together, employers and employed. At a time like the present they often found men acting contrary to their own interests. It would add materially to the strength of the Association by all becoming connected with it as one common brotherhood. He did not want them to do anything wrong, but join the Association and they would greatly benefit by it (Cheers )
Mr. Chappell, secretary of the Association, said they must not take a men to be a gentleman on account of the colour of his coat or the cloth that he wore. A man was a gentleman who would meet them fair and square and yield to fair argument if he was beaten (Hear, hear).
He had not come to speak particularly of the history of the past, they had better deal with the present, the past having gone they could not recall it for improvement. He would define to some extent the relationship which ought to exist between master and workmen. He had not come to pat them on the back and excite their feelings against their employers. If they could not `hit it´ he had not come to put them in a `fighting´ attitude. There was another way of doing it. Things were not going on at Denaby Main as well as he would like them to be. There was a little bit between them and why, he was at a loss to understand. They were all of one sort of stuff, bought and sold at the same market. They should therefore try to please each other and do as much good to each other as they possibly could, and not try how much they could inconvenience each other. There was a great necessity for them being bound together, because of that principle of selfishness existing in man and it often happened that he who had the most power let the `bridle go´. If the men of Denaby Main were bound together they could speak with authority. They had done so in time past and hoped they would do so again. He had never feared in coming there to go and see Mr. Warburton, because he was always backed by a good deputation.. He had come with a good heart and was not afraid of any issue. It was necessary for them to be bound together, because of the 500 men walking about the district with `sticks´. When he took charge of the `yard stick´ it did not change his disposition towards the men and he did not know why it should be so with others.
He characterized that system of `reporting to the authorities´ as silly and babylike.
He hated it any anyone guilty of it, if they would but glance through the looking glass they would see one of the biggest fools in existence. (Cheers)
If a man had got a few stripes on his coat people knew about it. Of course he did not expect his remarks applied to one present, as present company was always expected, but they might take the news to those whom they applied. He had seen such characters in the ranks, men who were constantly reporting the miners to the underviewer or manager just in order to get him into trouble. A person who would do that, was not a man, he was not worthy of the name. He would urge them to be united because of this old principle in men of trying to override his fellow man. It was not right for a man to be continually grinding down his fellow man. (Hear, here) If a man did work that was worth a shilling, the person for whom he did it ought to pay it like a man and not try to `barter´.
(Hear, hear) If it was worth a shilling and the price paid him was 8d., he was robbed of 4d. ( Hear, here ) There was a lot of unpleasantness caused by this sort of thing. He hoped there would be a more peaceful future for Denaby Main, and that the officials would try to make the men comfortable. When he was a deputy it was his `hobby´ to make the men comfortable. He did not believe in that dogged and high-handed dealing, tormenting men´s lives out of them. They ought to be comfortable When some men got a stick three or four feet long they were other men altogether, changing like weather-cocks. (Hear, hear) If a man´s work was worth 13s. they ought to give it him and not try to barter him down to 9s. As miners they ought to be in a position to meet these evils. He hoped that at Denaby Main the masters and the men would be in a position to meet and shake hands and make the place as comfortable as any in the district ; acting towards each other in a fair, square and honourable manner. (Cheers)
Mr. Rymer, of Barnsley then addressed the meeting at considerable length, moving the three following resolutions which were seconded a carried unanimously :-
” That this meeting sees with deep regret and alarm the action of the Coal-owners to destroy the Miners´ Association and render inoperative the Mines Regulation Act of 1872, by interfering with checkweighmen home inspection, and other clauses of the same Act. And this meeting calls on every miner in Yorkshire to at once join the Association to secure a living price for their labour, and to preserve or improve the present Mines Regulation Acts.”
” That this meeting strongly urges on Her Majesty´s Government, the great necessity of further measures to prevent explosions in coal mines, and this
meeting is of the opinion that this will be best accomplished by making the employers of labour more legally responsible for the safety of their workpeople, and a more complete system of Government Inspections over all dangerous occupations.”
” That this meeting believes that the time is come when the Borough Franchise should be extended to the Counties to secure the political rights of the tax payers of the country in the principles of justice and equality ; but that no measure can be considered satisfactory, without a fair redistribution of seats in Parliament.”
The meeting concluded with the usual votes of thanks.