Dispute – April 24th – Meeting with Mr Chambers – Strangers to Start Work

Interview With The Manager At Denaby Main.
Strangers Expected To Start Work

Mr. Chambers, the manager of the colliery asked for a deputation to meet him on Wednesday afternoon.. Six persons were immediately appointed to wait on him at the colliery offices. The interview lasted one and a quarter hours.

On returning to the Lodge room they reported that the manager had offered them the terms which had been published in the Press, viz. :- 1s 4 ½ d. per ton for round coal and 6 ½ d. for small coal, on the hand-picking system. He also informed the deputation that if the 10% reduction were enforced in the district the Denaby Main men would have to submit to that also. He said the prices he would then be paying would be the district rate of wages. The deputation denied this, and said the district price was 1s.5 ½ d., with 10% on. Mr. Chambers , however, contended that the price was 1s. 4 ½ d. One member of the deputation said that if he wished to introduce these prices there should be only one miner and one trammer in a place, and the seam to be worked on ” the bord,” Mr. Chambers then said he was not empowered to make the slightest alteration in the terms, that they were Mr. Pope´s terms and not his.

Mr. Pope he said, had given him instructions to leave the matter open for twenty-four hours, when, if the men did not agree to his terms, a number of men who he had engaged to do the work would arrive at Denaby Main. A member of the deputation informed him that he would have to start more places if all the men were coming that he had spoken of, and Mr. Chambers said he would stop some part of them. However, a number of men had been engaged on the understanding that they would be paid whether they start work or not. He informed the deputation that the first men who came into work would have the best places in the pit. One of the deputation suggested that he had better send the men down the `east plane´ where they would be ” warmed through.”

Afterwards the manager said the `west jinney´ would be started next and the `east plane´ last. In answer to a question as to whether the strangers were coming from Leicestershire, Mr. Chambers said he could get no men from that county, but he said hundreds of men were willing to come at 2s 6d. and 3s. per day. There had been agents out all over the country for six weeks, trying to obtain men, and many had been engaged. The men were not coming in two´s and three´s so that they could be frightened but by train loads. If he could not obtain enough men in the district he would obtain foreigners. The men asked him whether he thought they could live on 2s. 6d. and 3s. per day and pay 5s. per week for rent, and one of the deputation suggested that the men should only pay 6d. per fort-night for house rent and coal, as was the case in the north. Another suggested that if foreigners were working it would be best to employ Africans, as they can stand the heat of the `east plane.´ Mr. Chambers said there were many dock labourers and farm labourers in England out of work, who would work at the prices he indicated.

The deputation asked the manager to let the men start work in a body when they started, but Mr. Chambers said he had no power in the matter, and that Mr. Peter Hatton could not be employed at the colliery again ; he had taken such a prominent part in the dispute that Mr. Pope had written about it, and neither Peter Hatton nor his party were to resume work. The deputation informed Mr. Chambers that they could not tell who were Mr. Hatton´s party.

They said Mr. Chappell had introduced his name to the papers, and Mr. Hatton was the chairman of the lodge. They said it was just the same with men as with a flock of sheep – they wanted a leader or they would be through every gate. The manager said he had not tried to keep Hatton out ; he knew if they lost one leader they would soon have another. He was informed that Hatton had taken no more prominent part than any other man. He has spoke about `Sagar´s´ action, but he was informed that `poor Sagar´ had not done much. The manager promised that nothing would be done in the matter of `Sagar´ and after some conversation promised to do his best to allow Hatton to be set on again.

Mr. Chambers told the deputation that he had been in Leicestershire, and had examined a number of colliery books, when he found that the best men were getting 3s.6d. to 4s.3d. per day and the latter was the highest paid sum. He was told that the men had no rent to pay in Leicestershire, and Mr. Chambers also admitted that they had half an acre of land, and a good house to live in for 2s.6d. in many cases.

In answer to a question as to how the datallers would go on, the manager said they would have the price paid in the district, viz. the price they came out at, and the 10% would have to come off their wages if it were agreed in the district. He was told by one of the men that 4s.11d. was received by the datallers at Manvers Main.

One of the men asked him whether he would `flit´ them back into their homes for nothing. He expressed a hope that they would be good friends in the future.

The deputation asked him to withdraw his resolution and allow them to go back to work on the old system, but they were informed that they would never resume work on the old system at Denaby Main.

With reference to his statements in the Press concerning the men´s wages, the manager said he was sure they were correct. The deputation informed him that he had only charged five and eleven shifts instead of twenty-three and twenty-eight.

Mr. Chambers admitted that in the `east plane´ men worked as low as 2s.6d. per day.

The deputation, in answer to a question, said they did not require Mr. Chappell to conduct the negotiations on their behalf, and that if he wished to communicate with them it would be the best plan to address them through the committee.

The manager, at the conclusion of the proceedings, stated that he would rather have his own men than strangers.