December 26th 1884.
Denaby Main Colliery
Meeting Of The Miners. Men unanimously oppose Reduction
A meeting of the Denaby Main miners was held on Monday evening, in the lodge-room, Mexborough, to consider the notices which have been served on the men.
About twelve hundred in number, intimating that unless they agree to certain alterations of payment for their work, their services will be dispensed with in a fortnight.
Mr. W. Chappell, secretary of the Sheffield, Rotherham and District Miners´ Association, attended, and, after a few remarks from the Chairman, addressed them. He contended that the action which had been taken had come upon them all as a great surprise, and they could not yet realise how they stood. The question was a very important one and the issues would be very serious. ( Hear, hear )
He most certainly considered that the conduct of the Company was unwarrantable – the conduct of the men during the last five or six years most decidedly did not warrant such an action. ( Hear, hear )
Persons connected with the colliery and the public generally were very much astonished at what had taken place, and, not only at Mexborough, but at Rotherham and Sheffield persons had stopped him and asked what was meant. He certainly was under the impression so far as he could understand the notices, that it was an unfair attack upon the men. ( Hear, hear )
They, of course, did not want to be dictatorial as to the method of carrying on the mine, but they knew very well that the company did not make their bargains in the dark, and they had not been paying the men one iota more than their work deserved. ( Cheers )
It was singular that, after the experience of such managers as Messrs.Higginbottom, Pattison, Parker, and Warburton,it should now be discovered that considerably more was being paid than they ought to pay. ( Hear, hear )
It would be absurd to say that a reduction was not intended by the notices, for, to put it at it´s lowest figure, it would mean from 18% to 20% ( A Voice : “Yes and more than that “)
It was a question whether the collier or the trammer would be the greatest sufferer. Instead of their being grounds for a reduction, the men were already behind what was being paid at other pits. ( Hear, hear )
The owners had been fighting a railway company, as they all knew, and the fact was at different times they had lent the company 10%, or, at least 7 ½ %.
( Cheers ) It had been promised that this should be refunded, but although repeated application had been made for it to be repaid their efforts had been in vain, not withstanding that the dispute with the railway company had ended. ( Hear, hear )
This could not be considered the right way to treat the men. ( Cheers )
Prior to 1878 disputes had been so frequent at Denaby Main that no one was surprised, but the men had nevertheless, during the last six years endeavoured to work with their employers. ( Hear, hear )
If things were put as they ought to be put,, the men were receiving 7 ½ % – taking the whole range of colliery work – less than the miners in the principal thick collieries in South Yorkshire. ( Cheers )
The proposed changes was really an infringement of the original arrangement, and the men would want the equivalent in another direction. ( Hear, hear )
He was hoping that, when they met the manager they would find the proposition would not be pressed. ( Hear, hear )
They wanted a thorough understanding and then they would know how to act, – Expressions of opinion were then desired from the men, and one after another raised an unmistakeable protest, thorough unanimity prevailing on the question – One miner said it was such an absurdity to expect the men to submit to such terms as appeared on the notice, and if they did so it might affect the whole of the miners in South Yorkshire. ( Cheers )
Let them stand up like men and denounce and resist such action. ( Cheers )
They were quite low enough at present, and would resist any effort at further reduction. ( Cheers )
Another miner said there was no less than 50,000 tons of coal on the pit -bank, and the men were turning out about 10,000 tons per week.
The following resolutions were passed unanimously :-
” That, in the opinion of this meeting, the men of Denaby Main are not in a position to suffer any alterations which mean a reduction in wages,” and
” That this meeting strongly disapprove of the three shift system, but that further considerations of the subject be adjourned until after an interview with the owners on the question.”