Dispute – Workmen’s Circular

November 1878

November 1st 1878.

Denaby Main Dispute.

Workmen’s Circular

The dispute at the above Colliery still continues, nothing has particularised the past week, that in any way shows signs of a settlement. The workmen have issued the following circular which may be of interest to the public generally.

” We, the members of the Denaby Main Lodge feel it 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 which had to be abandoned, and a great part of the men dispensed with, the manager said he did not wish for that, but would put the pit on two shifts which we agreed to, but, with the understanding that as he opened work out, that he would bring the pit on to one shift again.

This promise he did not keep, but still continued to the shifts, and as he opened work out, he set fresh men on for the new work, and raised his output greater than 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 were 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 would supply his demands, consequently all the men were thrown on the same shift.

Then men were crammed all together, 6 Colliers and 4 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 at it, believing that it was his intention to break us up, and disorganise us, and not accomplishing his object ; he put it on two shifts again, and continued setting new hands on, till both shifts were overcrowded. On August 21st, he gave us notice to leave our employment. A Deputation waited on the Manager to see the meaning of them, and he informed them that he wanted about 27 % reduction, or 4 ½ d. from 1s. 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 the expiration 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 conditions such as these.

1st – That he would set on no new hands during that time.

2nd – That he would lengthen the places and thin the men out, and make the work practicable, so that men could get a good day´s wage, 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 continued up to the time of the stoppage, varying from four to six per day.

In the second he has crammed the men together, shortened their places by putting more cross-gates in, consequently the places were shorter than before, and the same number of men in them.

Since the above arrangement the coals were risen 1s. 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 large 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 all 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 interviews, but was objected ; Mr. Chappell gained an interview, along with the deputation since, and he ( the manager ) stated that the pit could not be opened, only at the heavy reduction of 4 ½ d. per ton, or 27 %.”