1,100 Pit Workers Summoned – Damages for Stoppages

14 August 1937

Leeds Mercury – Saturday 14 August 1937

1,100 Pit Workers Summoned
 Damages for Stoppages

Over 1,100 Pit employees, nearly the whole of them youths, were summoned at Doncaster to-day for alleged breach of contract by absenting themselves from work without notice.

About 750 of the cases came from Manvers Main, and the remainder from the Maltby and Denaby Collieries of the Amalgamated Denaby Collieries, Ltd.

Many of the youths travelled to court on bicycles, some in specially chartered ’buses and others by train.

Mr. A. S. Furniss appeared for the colliery companies, and Mr. D. Dunn defended in all the cases.

Mr. Dunn intimated that in most of the cases a breach of contract was admitted, but the amount of the claim was disputed. Mr. Furniss, dealing with the cases from Maltby against 286 youths, in respect of the week July 26 to July 30 inclusive, said the “performance” started on July 17. At that time there had been a reduction in wages under the wages ascertainment, and this was not satisfactory to the lads, who stopped work.

Union Defied

This went on until July 24, when there was a meeting of coalowners and it was recommended that the wages should be reinstated to the amount of the old ascertainment. This was accepted by the miners’ branch and the boys were told that everything was ready for work on July 26. On that day, the morning shift worked normally, but the boys on the afternoon shift went home again, and all the colliers had to go home. Next day, the pit worked normally, but on the day following only a few boys turned up and all went back again. Mr. Furniss added that throughout this trouble at Maltby, the company appreciated that the local branch of the miners’ union had done all they could to try and Instill common sense and discipline into the lads. Mr. Furniss added that the local branch and the headquarters of the union had been set at defiance, and the result was that owing to some possible sinister and subversive interest they did not know of, these lads had set down Maltby pit practically continuously since July 17, without any reasonable cause whatever.

£30,000 Lost In Wages

It was estimated there had been -a loss in wages to colliers of over £30,000, and there was a deadlock. They were still out at Maltby Colliery. The company claimed against each defendant. Mr. Dunn said it would be impossible for these boys to pay forthwith, whatever damages were allowed against them. He suggested binding over the boys in an amount of ascertained damages which they would have to pay if they again broke their contract

The Chairman (Mr. G. Cooke-Yarborough) said if there were any merits on the part of the defendants, he would have been willing to take the course suggested by Mr. Dunn, but there were no merits in this case so far he could see.

Dealing with 89 cases from Denaby Colliery in respect of dates between July 26 and July 30. Mr. Furniss said that most futile excuses had been given by the lads. The pit had been practically closed until today.

Mr Furniss said “the amount of claims varied in sums up to £2.

Mr. Norman Hulley, manager of Denaby Colliery, said he and officials of the local branch of the miners’ union had tried their best to get the lads back to work, but had failed.

One of the defendants, aged 18. said in evidence, that all the lads were willing to go back to work on Monday. Their grievance at the end of July was the shortage of boys to do the work.

Bench’s Decision

Giving the decision of the Bench the Maltby cases, the Chairman said he hoped the lads would realise now the amount of damage they had done to hundreds and thousands of people by their action. They had not only lost colliers an immense amount in wages, but they had caused a great deal of damage to the pit, and they had affected other industries all over the country. The boys would have to pay £5 each, at the rate of 5s. a week.

In the cases from Denaby, the boys were ordered to pay £2, plus 10s. costs, at the rate of 5s. week.

In the Manvers Main cases, the Bench ordered men who had been summoned in respect of July 28 or July 29 to pay 15s. each in respect of each date, and 30s. where the summons related to both dates, plus 10s. costs. The cases against Manvers Main lads were dismissed.