Mexborough and Swinton Times February 5, 1886
Meeting of Denaby Main Miners
A meeting in connection with the Yorkshire Miners Association was held last night at the Mason Arms Inn Mexborough: Mr Dixon in the chair.
Messrs Parrott and Frith, officials of the Association were in attendance.
The Chairman, after briefly addressing the meeting, called on Mr Parrott, who referred to the hardships attended on the miners calling. Trade was bad, but, notwithstanding, the miner’s life could be made far happier if only better feeling could be made to exist between employers and employed.
He did not know a colliery in the district where the men were called upon to undergo such hardships as the miners of Denaby Main. The price at which they were working was a miserably wretched one, and it struck him very forcibly that they never would be at peace while working under that price. Their company, in his opinion, had been hard upon the men. There had fought a brave battle in order to resist certain encroachments. They were defeated not so much by the employers as by men who came to take their places in the pit.
During the short time he had occupied the position of a miner’s agent, he had notice that wherever the men had been defeated, as a rule, it had been through the action of parties who ought to have helped them. He was very sorry indeed that there were a number of men who seem to make a living by going up and down various collories where there were disputes between employers and workmen, try to get a living out of them, and making matters worse in the future for those who had been defending that which was right.
He was sorry to learn that a number of men, one come to Denaby to help the owners to defeat the miners there, and left Denaby and gone to work at Frystone, where there was a dispute. (Shame)
If the miners of Yorkshire would all be loyal to themselves, in times of dispute at one or two collieries the men on strike could be supported and kept out for months, years, until either the owners dealt with the men reasonably or the colliery was given up to other owners.
Mr Parrott then referred to the passage in the Queen’s Speech relating to mining, and remarked that it was the first time that any mention of be made of the miners or mining in any speech of the kind. It was very probable that the miners, through their representatives in the House of Commons, would be able to obtain better Acts of Parliament in the future than in the past.
Reference was made by Mr Parrott to the various question which have been debated at the recent conference of miners at Birmingham. The speaker then addressed the meeting at some length on the proposed sliding scale arrangement. They wanted to get an understanding if possible between employers and workmen, in order that strike and lockout might be avoided in the future. There was a wish both on the part of the owners and miners that the scheme should not be published until either party and decided that it should be worked for and a certain document was signed to that effect.
If the scheme was established it would be very good thing for the miners. Disputes such as the Denaby Main men had passed through, were neither good for the employers, working men, nor the public, and if anything were established that would act justly and fairly to both parties it should meet with their hearty support. He did not think you would break any promise by referring to one or two clauses in connection with the scheme. The present rate of wages was to be the minimum. However bad trade might become, and however low the price of coal might be, the owners could not reduce the wages below the price at present received by the miners. Trade was bad all round, reduction of wages seem to be the order of the day in the iron, shipbuilding, and other trades, and if they had no schemes such as referrted to they could not tell what trouble might be in store for them.
If the establishment of the scheme did not bring with it any immediate advance, which if trade remained as at present it was impossible for any scheme to do, if it would only keep wages at the present rate, and give the men the privilege of having high wages when trade improved, it would be something to be thankful for. He knew the present rate of wages was low, and if they could have got an improvement on it they would have done so. They tried their best for advance and to call that the minimum, but the employers said they could not afford to give them any advance.
He thought they ought to admire the clause the hard referred to. There was another clause bearing on the priceless. It was necessary for every man at the Venice collieries in the district to know the particular prices to be paid for certain kind of work, so much per ton for coal getting, so much per yard, so much for filling a tub of “muck,” and for every particular job, such as building packs etc. if a lace of prices were obtained every man would know before you commence work what he was going to be paid for it. That tried their best to make matters as good for the men as possible. They met a deputation of South Yorkshire colliery owners at Sheffield, on Monday, and went through the whole scheme, when a few small alterations from what they had seen previously were made. The deputation of owners would have to submit the resolution arrived at to a general meeting of employers, and if they accepted them it seemed to him that he would not be very long before it will be established. Once it was put in operation and employers and workmen agreed to its provisions, they would be in a good position.
Another clause he admired very much was that relating to the appointment of a joint committee. There was to be a joint committee of employers or their representatives and the representatives of the miners, a certain number on each side, for the purpose of settling matters in dispute at any particularly colliery. As the dispute could not be decided on meeting the managers or owners at the colliery, it was to be brought before the joint committee, and if the committee could not decide the question at issue, an independent chairman and umpire would be called in, in order that an equitable decision might be arrived at.
With reference to the Denaby Main colliery he would like to see the manager treat the men in a rather different manner than he had done. The “6d a Tunstall” the men are to fill was tipped into the same screens and cast into the same wagon as the call for which they received 1s 4 ½ d. It was abominable that men should be called upon to get coal, fill up, and do all the other work in connection with it for 6d. A man was paid 6d per ton for putting it into the cellar of the purchaser. It was a disgraceful price, it was a shameful price, for any colliery company to want to pay, and he sincerely hope that they would put themselves into a position to demand, and to be successful when they did demand it, a better price on the miserable 6d per ton paid for coal getting and filling. (Applause)
Mr Frith addressed the meeting on the question of unionism, urging on the man the necessity which existed for their joining the Yorkshire Miners Association.
The meeting concluded with the passing of the customary vote of thanks to the chairman and speakers.