Dispute – Mr Pickard on the Situation – Miners Meeting at Mexborough

September 1885

Sheffield independent September 24 1885

Mr Pickard on the Situation
Miners Meeting at Mexborough

A crowded meeting of Denaby Main, Manvers Main, and Thrybergh Hall miners was held last evening in the Market Hall, Mexborough to consider the wage question.

Mr Peter Hatton presided, and there were also on the platform Mr Benjamin Pickard (secretary of the Yorkshire Miners Association, and Liberal candidate for Normanton) Messrs Frith and Parrott (other officials of the union) and the reverent T.J.Leslie

Mr Pickard commence by referring at length to the reported resuscitation of the South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire miners Association and action of the Denaby men in relation thereto. He had thought that the question been sufficiently thrashed out, that there should be but one union – one strong association – but it looked as if the spirit of dissension was abroad again

He was indeed surprised after the resolutions which are been passed at Denaby, and after hearing that Mr Chappell service had been dispensed with and that his Association been broken up, that things had been going on in a singular way.

There had been a settlement at Denaby – it was a “settlement” and no mistake – (laughter) but the Yorkshire Miners Association had had nothing to do with it. (Hear, hear)

In what sense were they to believe the action of Mr Chappell in running to the colliery office at Denaby, and affecting such a settlement? The very man would urge them to resist the honest proposal, brought them out into the field, and when the funds were exhausted he departed, for he was not there at the evictions. (Hear, hear)

Yet they heard that there had been a crowded meeting at Conisborough, and that it had been resolved to restart the former Association under Mr Chappell. He was not going to combat Mr Chappell right to do this; but were the men at Denaby going to allow that sort of thing to go on?

Every man told him (Mr Pickard) that he could have worked at 1s 4 ½ d a day more money than at present they were in receipt of if they had never listened to Mr Chappell’s advice. If they believe that was a proper way to be led, thrust into difficulty, then into danger, and finally to submit to a reduction like that, you better take him (Mr Chappell) and carry him on their back – but  take him out of Yorkshire. (Laughter and here here)

Mr Pickard characterised the Denaby men who “were playing fast and loose, and try to set one pitstead against another pitshead of workmen,” as worse than anything. He said it was only fair to refer to the matter as plainly and straightforward as the case demanded. Other people could think what they liked about it, but he considered that such men were every bit as much “Black sheep” and renegades as the men who came out of Staffordshire and took their work from them.

It was a strange coincidence or something worse, that, as soon it became known that it was intended to demand a 15% wage advance, so soon was a start made to reorganise the old Association. (laughter) There was nothing which he detested more than to go into personalies but there were times when one felt bound to do so.

Pickard proceeded to say that this was a full representative gathering, and a desire to intimate that the time had come when these miners should unite together, not merely a general advance, but look after the wages they earn every day in each week, and to prevent men having undue advantage taken of them; and when they did not suit the manager, to have them turned away simply because they were men determined to do the right and to stand by their fellows. (Hear, hear)

Their chairman that evening had been refused work because he signed his name “Peter Hatton,” whereas if he had signed “Tom Jones” this might not have happened. He maintained that the last 10% reduction would not have been secured by the masters if the men are been properly united, and now, unless the men were prepared to go in for it as one man, they would not get what they asked in the shape of an advance of wages, or anything approaching it. But if they formed themselves into a compact body they will get what was fair and right. (Cheers)

Colliery owners would not be so ready to have another eight weeks holiday. They would meet their men and talk the matter over, and try and put a better face on it. At the present time there was a good deal of talk about depression in trade, the lowness of prices, royalty rents, city dues, railway rates, and many other things of interest to the mine.

Mr Pickard dealt with these questions, and then briefly referred to the Royal commission to enquire into the state of trade generally. One remedy was said to be “lessen the cost of production, and get more money out of the ribs of the workingmen.” (Shame). He should advise the miners to fight to the very last bit of their strength rather than go back to the state of things existing prior to the passing of the mines act of 1872. Let them not retrograde, strive for what they had got and improve upon it (cheers)

The colliery owners will shortly be asked to give back to the men what they are taken from them this year, as they did not get the them, the men would take the best means they knew for the purpose of enforcing it. (Loud cheers)

Mr Farrow addressed the men as to unity in wages, and moved a resolution in favour of “one solid union in Yorkshire)

This was seconded by Mr Parrott.

The reverent T.J.Leslie also briefly address the meeting.

The resolution was unanimously carried.