Dispute – May 22nd d – An offer from Mr Pope

May 1885

An Offer From Mr. Pope

To the Editor,

Sir, – the Rev. Leslie´s letter in Wednesday´s ( London ) Daily Telegraph throws considerable doubt upon the accuracy of my statements with regard to the wages paid at Denaby Main.

Rev. Leslie has for months past known that the wages books were open for inspection. He lives only a mile and a half from the colliery, but has never even asked to see the books, or applied at the colliery offices for information. He informs your readers that the miners are ” praying to God for help.” He forgot to add, sir, that these prayers are considerably supplemented by brickbats.

One of the deputies was severely stoned two or three mornings ago, and only yesterday a poor man who was supposed to be coming to work, was knocked down and severely maltreated.

The Rev. Leslie suggests that the wages paid are 10% less than those of the district. Under these circumstances perhaps he can explain why union pickets are placed at all railway stations in districts from which it is probable or possible men may be coming. Only a few nights ago six brave fellows, who had been driven away from the railway station by the pickets, actually walked from Sheffield ( a distance of fourteen miles ), and offered their services. They are now at work and are willing to brave the organised ruffianism now paramount in the district in order to accept the wages offered. Considering their small number, one might almost say they risked their lives in order to obtain the wages the Denaby Main men refuse.

However, sir, considering the amount of publicity given to this matter, and the many false statements which have been made, I feel that, in justice to the company, an inquiry should be instituted, and the facts reported on publicly.

For this reason I proposed that Mr. Burt, M.P., shall make a report on the whole case if that gentleman would be good enough to do so.

That after seeing the company´s books, inspecting the coal, and hearing both sides, he shall say whether in his opinion the wages re reasonable, taking into consideration the present value of colliers´ labour.

I have no personal knowledge of Mr. Burt. I know that as a mines´ representative in the House of Commons he must be possessed of practical knowledge of coal mining. I know that his late action in the House of Commons was antagonistic to the company I represent. Believing him, however, to be a man of integrity, I have not the slightest hesitation in asking his opinion in this matter.

In the meantime work will be found for as many colliers as can be employed at the price the Rev. Leslie says they are willing to accept – namely, 5s. 6d. per day.

I am, sir, yours faithfully,

J. Buckingham Pope.

Denaby Main Colliery