Dispute – Circular from Miners

October 1878

Mexborough Times, November 1.

Denaby Main, Dispute.

Circular from Miners

The dispute at the above Colliery still continues. Nothing happened, particulary the past week, that in any way showed sign of a settlement. The workmen have issued the following circular which may be of interest to the public generally.

“We, the members of the above Lodge feel it’s our duty to lay our case before you in a truthful manner.

You are perhaps not aware that when our Manager came here, there was a great part of the pit had to be abandoned, and a great part of the men dispensed with. The manager said he did not wish for that, but he would put the pit onto two shifts which are agreed in, but, with the understanding that as he opened work out, that he would bring the pit onto one shift again.

This promise he did not keep, but still continued the shifts, and as he opened work out, he set fresh men on for the new work, and raised his output greater than the demand, which terminated in a greater accumulation of coal on the pit bank, to the amount of about 60,000 tons.

He sent for a deputation of the men and asked them to submit to a halfpenny a ton reduction; also to cut the tops in the gates and goafs for nothing which the men was paid 1s per yard for.

The Deputation laid the matter before us the men, which we could not submit to, so, the manager said the shift work must cease at once, as one shift, which supplies demands, consequently, all the men were thrown on one shift.

Then men were crammed together, six colliers and four fillers in from 15 to 25 yards of length, which caused us to suffer great privation, through the action he had taken, but we worked on that it, believing that it was his intention to disorganise us, and break us up, and not accomplishing his object, he put it on two shifts again, and continue setting new hands on, till both shifts were overcrowded.

On August 21 he gave us notice to leave our employment. A deputation waited on the manager to see the meaning of them, and inform them that he wanted about 27% reduction, or about 4 ½ d from £1 4 ½ d per ton., which we have for getting, filling, and timbering, “all gotten on the end.”

The Deputation laid the question before us. We decided to submit to no reduction. The manager being informed of the same told the deputation that the pit would not stand at exploration of our notices, but before they expired, he sent for the deputation, and agreed with them, that the question lay in abeyance for three months, on condition such as these:

1. That he will set no new hands on during that time.

2. That he would lengthen the planes and thin the men out, and make the work practicable, so that men could get a day’s wages, and if the men were benefited by this arrangement, the question of a reduction should be again raised.

In the first case, he began to set men on immediately and continue up to the time of the stoppage, varying from 4 to 6 per day. In the second he has crammed the men together, shortened their places by putting more crossgates in, consequently, the places were shorter than before and the same number of men were in them. Since the above arrangement, the coals were risen one shilling per ton to the boat sale, which caused them to go elsewhere. Consequently he commenced stocking coal again

Seeing that our manager has not carried out his agreement, and having felt the rod on previous occasions through having a larch stock of coal, we deemed it our duty to have a meeting to consider the whole thing, for which we were obliged to have a play day for various reasons.

1st Pit working two shifts

2nd The manager, not recognising what was done by a portion of the men, we had a play day and a meeting of the whole of the men, and when we went to work the next day our lamps were refused, also the two following days. A deputation saw the manager and asked for an interview, but was objected. Mr Chapple gained an interview, along with the deputation since, and he (the manager), stated that the pit could not be opened only at the ever reduction of 4 1/2d per ton or 27% s.

The Workmen of Denaby Main Colliery