December 19th 1884.
Proposed Revision Of Price at Denaby Main Colliery
Men given Notice – 25% Reduction demanded
After a comparatively quiet period of over six years, the whole of the men, numbering upwards of 1,200, employed at Denaby Main Colliery, have received notice to leave their employment at the end of fourteen days.
The first batch of notices was given out on Wednesday afternoon, to the men then at work, and as the others followed on Wednesday night and Thursday morning the process of giving out notices was continued.
All the day-men and lads received the usual formal notice, intimating that at the end of fourteen days their services would no longer be required, but to the Colliers and Trammers the following notice was issued :-
Denaby Main Colliery – December 18th 1884.
“ We hereby inform you, that at the expiration of fourteen days from this date your present engagement with the Company will be put an end to and terminate, and the following revision of prices paid for coal-getting and filling will come into effect :-
Instead of the uniform rate of 1s. 4 ½ d. per ton for coal and slack, the price will be 1s. 6d. per ton for coal and 8d. per ton for slack. Colliers to pay fillers 7 ¼ d. per ton for coal and 3d. per ton for slack.
After the expiration of this notice the packing and gate cutting will not be required to be done by colliers, and they will cease to be paid for it.”
The Denaby Main Colliery Company ( Limited ) per W.H. Chambers.
It will be seen that whilst an increased price is offered to the men for the large coal, less is offered for the slack.
This proposal is supposed to be made with a view of inducing the men to send out of the pit as much large coal as possible, but as a deputation of the men has not yet waited upon Mr. Chambers, no official information with respect to the proposals can be obtained.
The appearance of the notices was quite a surprise to the men, and up to the present, little of a reliable nature can be gathered from them, save that should they be compelled to give up their packing and top cutting it will make a difference to them, as they can often devote their time to packing when they cannot proceed with other work.
It is however, only fair to state that at the neighbouring Manvers Main pits, which are worked on the longwall system, as at Denaby Main, the packing is not done by the colliers, but by men specially employed for the purpose, the colliers devoting all of their time to coal-getting and timbering.
Whilst we believe it is mostly the custom for colliers and fillers to keep the large coal and slack distinct. It would, however, be premature to come to any definite conclusion on the matter, as at present the men have held no meetings, and no deputations appear to have waited on the Manager, but in the neighbourhood we hear genuine expressions to the effect that something ought to be done to prevent, if possible, a stoppage of work taking place, which would be sure to have an adverse effect on the trade of the immediate neighbourhood.
Another account is as under :-
The top men employed at the Denaby Main Colliery, yesterday received notices to leave their employment within fourteen days.
The opinion of the men is that they will never submit to the reduction demanded. The colliers at present receive 1s. 4 ½ d. per ton of coal and slack, and the Company propose that they be paid 1s. 6d. per ton for coal and 8d. per ton for slack. As the slack is in proportion to one in three, the reduction on three tons will be 5 ½ d. The average amount of coal obtained by each collier is about 40 tons, so that after paying the reduced sum to the fillers, the men argue that they will receive 3s. 4d. less than under the present system per week. The fillers on the same estimate would receive 1s. 8d. less weekly than at present.
The notice which has been received by the colliers states that the packing and gate cutting will not be required to be done by the colliers in future. For this work the men are paid at the rate of 8s. 7d. per yard, and two yards are cut weekly on average, the amount received for which, is divided among four colliers, the men receiving 4s. 8d. each.
It is contended by the men that if the employers push the changes to the extremities there would be a reduction of wages to the extent of no less than 25%. About three years ago a dispute arose concerning the same question, and the men gained their point.
For some time past the Company have been engaged in stacking a very large quantity of coal, and the men estimate it will last some weeks. They express their determination to resist any attempt at reduction ; and they are more confident, as the finances of the South Yorkshire and North Nottinghamshire Association, to which most of the miners belong, are in a very flourishing condition.
Over one thousand persons are employed at the colliery, the majority of whom reside in the company’s houses. The output of the colliery is about 10,000 tons weekly, Denaby Main, being one of the largest collieries in South Yorkshire. It is hoped that the extreme may not be resorted to, and it is considered highly probable that a compromise will be effected before the 31st. ultimo, the day on which the men’s notices fall due.