Sheffield Daily Telegraph – Saturday 28 December 1929
Denaby Main Fund.
Mr. Herbert Smith, president of the Yorkshire Miners’ Association, and Captain L. C. Hodges, general manager of the Yorkshire Amalgamated Collieries, made reference to the difficulties surrounding the coal industry at the annual Christmas Treat given under the auspices of the Denaby and Cadeby Main Collieries’ Mutual Help Fund last evening.
This fund was inaugurated in 1925 to provide colliers who ceased work at the age of 65 with a pension to make their income up to 50s. per week. Since its inception over £11,000 has been paid out in benefit.
Mr. H. Hulley presided over a gathering of old-age pensioners and their wives at the Denaby Welfare Institute last night. Hesaid that 131 pensioners had benefited from the scheme and the fund was paying out, a sum of £90 weekly.
Mr. T. Hill, one of the trustees, said that the men at the pits were determined to keep their old-age pensioners from want. The fund, he said, had brought happiness into many homes in the district, and had had direct result in prolonging life.
Captain L. C. Hodges said that the fund was a wonderful effort on the part of both the colliery company and workmen. He was hoping that it would become more than a local institution. He went on to say that the owners and the miners leaders were doing their utmost to bring about a solution of present difficulties of the coal industry, and was convinced that there difficulties that could not overcome in round table conference if brains, determination, ‘and goodwill were brought to bear on the problems. The outcome of the discussions would be lasting peace in the coal industry.
Mr- Herbert Smith emphasised again the need for pensions for miners. If the Government could not provide men with work, he said, it was their duty keep them in fit condition until they could, and when they could not work longer to maintain them and make the last years of their lives happy and comfortable. He had for years advocated pensions and was proud that Denaby had set an example. It was fair to assume that if they had not inaugurated the scheme there would have been a higher death roll Denaby and district. The company kept many people out of the workhouse and Darby and Joan’ could sit by their own fireside independent of charity and free do as they liked. “This fund is not charity,” he added. “It is mutual help, and may God bless everyone of you who has taken part in this great scheme.”
He went on to say that he wished the movement was national and said such united effort did more to bring about good relationship between owner and worker than anything else knew.
Proceeding, Mr. Smith said surely they could co-operate similarly in other and more difficult questions affecting the coal industry. They had a number of difficult problems in front of them. They had 200,000 working miners unable to find work, and in his opinion it was going to be a considerable time before they could be absorbed into the industry unless coal was utilised in a different manner. Mechanical activity was continually progressing, but the human factor would always be wanted, and they had to so safeguard that there would more of the human touch between workpeople and people who managed affairs. The miner had no right to be a Cinderella to everyone, has he had been in the past. They were engaged in a necessary industry, and should be paid a fair wage.
Alderman E. Dunn, of Maltby, where a similar pension scheme had been started, said he had visions of the time coming when the scheme would spread to every colliery in the combine.