The Chairman Of The Denaby Main Colliery Co. On The Dispute
The following letter from Mr. J. Buckingham Pope, chairman of the Denaby Main Colliery Co., appears in Friday´s London Telegraph :-
” Letters from Mr. Broadhurst M.P. and the Rev. T.J. Leslie asking for support for the Denaby Main miners, having appeared in your columns, kindly allow me to add a few further particulars.
To the time of the commencement of the present strike two-thirds of the Denaby Main men were earning rather over 9s. per day. This sum amounted to about 25% more than the wages paid in the district. A small reduction and an alteration in the wasteful way in which the coal was worked led to a strike.
For fourteen weeks the men were allowed to remain in their houses without paying any rents. During this time they employed their time threatening those persons who attended to the ventilation of the mine, they stoned the people who fed the horses, and they fired some hay belonging to the company. They were supported by the Union and by the public in demanding wages which the entire revenue of the company would not amount to, and under the circumstances it was found to be absolutely necessary to compel them to leave their houses.
The rev. gentleman who appeals to you has ( doubtless the best of intentions ) caused an immense deal of the misery he deplores by helping and encouraging these people in their `crying for the moon´. The secretary of the Colliers´ Union in the Denaby Main district has recently written to the Yorkshire newspapers denouncing the conduct of the Denaby Main miners as unreasonable, and he states that the public by subscribing to them, are causing a great amount of mischief. This probably accounts for the Rev. Leslie´s attempts to procure funds from districts where the circumstances of the dispute are unknown.
The wages now on offer will enable the men to earn for 6s. to 7s. 6d. per day of eight hours. If they insist on dying of starvation rather than accept this remuneration, I am afraid, sir, there is no way of preventing them, for unless other men come to supply their places the pit will be permanently closed.”
To the Editor,
Sir – Mr. J.B. Pope says that at the commencement of the present Strike two-thirds of the men were earning rather over 9s. per day, and that this amounted to about 25% more than the wages paid in the district.
In answer to that, the workmen of Denaby Main are willing to work at 5s. 6d. per day all round, instead of 6s. to 7s. 6d. per day, as Mr. Pope wants to lead the public to understand. By his system of working, and from documents which the Denaby Main miners´ officials have in their possession, they carefully prove that they are fully 10% below the district. On the rates of the ten thick seam collieries in this district we are willing to arbitrate.
For fourteen weeks the men were allowed to remain without paying rent. That we admit. During that time we are charged with assaulting the officials connected with the colliery, and with firing the haystacks belonging to the company. It is true there was some slight damage done to one stack, which was caused by a number of children playing in the field, but can Mr. Pope prove to the public that ever there was a Denaby Main man charged with the affair ?
Respecting the charges of threatening and assault, I can only refer Mr. Pope to Captain Russell and his men whether any such proceedings has taken place during the fourteen weeks.
In reply to the late secretary ( Mr. Chappell ), writing in the district newspapers denouncing the Denaby Main miners as unreasonable. I can only say their terms are precisely the same as Mr. Chappell first advised.
As regards the public sympathy causing a great amount of mischief, it would be wisdom if Mr. Chappell would leave the public to judge for themselves, and not interfere.
Hoping this unfortunate dispute will soon be at an end,
I remain, yours etc.
Chairman of the Denaby Main Lodge.
The Rev. T.J. Leslie writes :-
I have just seen a letter from Mr. J. Buckingham Pope on the Denaby Main dispute.
In reply, I have to ask – Will Mr. J.B. Pope meet a deputation of the Denaby Main miners in the presence of some of his fellow directors of the colliery ?
It is useless for Mr. Pope to write letters to the newspapers, in which he makes statements which the men affirm to be untrue.
The tales of suffering and privation which I have to listen to day after day are painful in the extreme. The pit has been closed nineteen weeks, during which the poor people have endured untold suffering, and at the end of this long period a number of them were evicted a few days ago.
It was a bitterly cold day, and yet the poor women and little children were turned into the street, with their household goods, many without any food, no coal, and nowhere to go. I have tried to help these poor outcasts, and the only thing Mr. Pope can say is ” The Rev. gentleman who appeals to you ( doubtless with the best of intentions ) caused an immense deal of misery he deplores by helping and encouraging these people in crying to the moon.
The misery and cruel evictions took place before I began any attempt to save the women and children from starvation.
A gentleman in Mr. Pope´s position may either be a great blessing or a great curse the neighbourhood. I therefore ask him to be the saviour and friend of his own workmen, their wives and their children. Help is still greatly needed to get bread with, for the poor families.
I hope your readers, many of whom have given generous help in the past, will continue to respond to the bitter cry of the evicted miners.
The Unfortunate Dispute At Denaby Main Colliery.
To the Editor,
Sir – Kindly allow me a short space in your columns in reply to a letter which has appeared in a local contemporary by Mr. J. Buckingham Pope.
He says that previous to the strike that two-thirds of the workmen of the above colliery were earning over 9s. per day, or 25% more than the district was paid. This the miners can refute by their pay-notes, which the company supplies them with weekly, and from price lists obtainable at other collieries.
He next goes on to say that the miners were allowed to remain in the houses of the company, for fourteen weeks rent free, and during that period they spent their time in threatening those persons who attended to the ventilation of the mine, and that they stoned the people who fed the horses, and fired some hay belonging to the company and that they were supported by the Union and the public in demanding wages which the entire revenue would not amount to, and under the circumstances it was found to be absolutely necessary to compel them to leave their houses.
Now sir, during the whole of this dispute, which has reached it´s nineteenth week, there has not been one single adult convicted for a breach of the peace or a violation of the law, although there has been great provocation on the part of the company. True, some slight damage was done by children to a haystack in the football field, but it was of an accidental nature.
He next refers to the secretary of the miners´ union in the Denaby Main district, denouncing the conduct of the Denaby Main miners as unreasonable. This, sir, is what we all fully expect now that the miners have resolved not to let him act any further on their behalf.
The wages now on offer he says, will enable the men to earn 6s. to 7s. 6d. per day. If this be a fact why not meet the men and agree to give it to them. I know if he will only guarantee the price he offers, the men would be only too glad to go to work.
The only complaint they had was they wanted the coal to be filled separately in the mine, as several contracts had been lost through this cause. This the colliers agreed to do if the company would only allow them the choice of their own filler, which is the custom in the district.
We tried all conciliatory means to effect a settlement. We asked for a postponement of the notices, and we also offered arbitration, but both were refused.
In conclusion, sir, the Denaby Main miners want no more for their labour than what is paid in the district, but from documents the lodge officials have in their possession prove that they are now below the district.
Hoping I have not trespassed too far on your space, I am yours,
An Evicted Miner.