Sheffield Daily Telegraph – Friday 27 April 1888
Mr. Parrott Attacks Mr. Parker Rhodes.
Last night a crowded meeting of Denahy Main miners was held in the Reresby Anns, Denaby Main. Mr. J. Dixon, secretary to the district lodge at the Yorkshire Miners Association, occupied the chair, and he was supported by Mr. W. Parrott, of Barnsley, and Mr. Merry, of the Barrow Colliteries.
After few remarks from the Chairman. Mr. W. Parrott proceeded, to deal with the provisions of the New Mines Bill, and said he was especially pleased to see the clause referring to checkweighmen. It gave the miners the same freedom in selecting checkweighmen as was possessed by the employers in selecting theirs. (Hear, hear.)
Beforehand, whenever a checkweighman had been active in preventing certain reductions,or in trying to form good branch of the union, the employers generally managed to get rid of him. (Hear, hear.)
Then there was the question timbering, respecting which the workmen would not be put to such inconvenience as they had been formerly. Now Rule 22 said that timbering should be provided in a suitable place i.e. in close contiguity the working place. The improvement that had been made in the question of timbering alone was worth all the expenses and the agitation that the association had been put to in trying to get new Mines Act through the House of Commons, and if the managers neglected to their duty it would not be long before the manager was brought before the magistrates. But it was necessary to see that the new special rules were made in accordance with the new Bill. They had three months in which to get up the special rules, and then they were, to expose them in some conspicuous place, that every man working at the colliery could see them and read them; and if they found, on comparing them with the new Bill, that there were certain rules contrary to the new Mines Act, they could send their objections to Mr. Wardell.
Instead of that, with but few exceptions, it had been the opposite at nearly every colliery. The rules had been hung in such positions that in this cold weather it had been nearly impossible for the men to read and carefully consider them and to point out those portions that they did not like. In some instances they had been put on the pit bank behind the head gear, and at one particular pit they had hung two or three days even before the men had seen then, (Laughter.)
That was an evasion of the Act to begin with. (Hear, hear.) He had his own opinion why managers should have been so very careful either to put them out of sight where it was utterly impossible for men to read them. Mr. Parker Rhodes, of course, had gone through the rules and had made them copyright They all knew Mr. Parker Rhodes. Mr. Parker Rhodes was very cute man. and the managers knew that if the men had opportunity of going through the rules there were many things which they would object to. After great deal effort the association had been enabled to get a copy of the rules. committee was called to consider them, and after comparing them with the old regulations and the new Mines Bill they had found that there were many glaring hardships and inconsistencies. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. Parker Rhodes had been, and still was, he believed, a very, successful solicitor. He was also secretary to the South Yorkshire Coal owners’ Association, and ever since had become their secretary the association had treated the miners’ officials in way that they had never been treated before. That action caused certain amount of suspicion—that the owners meant to ignore them much they possibly could, and if they could to out the union entirely. (Hear, hear.)
But he was glad to find, on going up and down the district, that, instead of the union declining, it was becoming stronger every week. The libel case, for one thing, and the attempt to force these special rules upon them for another, had caused lot of energy to infused into the union.
Sir. Parker Rhodes was the author of the special rules, and they were very one-sided; Mr. Parker Rhodes was about one-sided any man they could think of. (Hear, hear.) Whenever the employers had a case before tho magistrates they had Mr. Parker Rhodes, their counsel. There were certain rules in the special rules so worded that they would puzzle the brain of a Gladstone to thoroughly understand what they meant. They could not watch Mr. Parker Rhodes too closely, and wherever he produced anything affecting the miners, he wanted watching very minutely. (Hear, hear.)
The association, however, had objected to many rules which neither Mr. Parker Rhodes not the managers would pleased with. Mr. Parrott then proceeded to deal with what called the abuses that included the special rules, and said that one thing they meant insist upon was that, there should be two engine men to every shaft. (Hear, hear.)
It was his firm conviction that if there been two engine men in the engine house at Houghton Main that terrible disaster would never have occurred. (Hear, hear.)
It was quite possible that engine man might seized with sudden dizziness when the men were ascending or descending the pit at such a rapid rate as they did now, and they wanted another man to be in the engine house that could put his hand the lever when anything happened his mate.
Mr. Parrott then proceeded to deal with the meeting of the Permanent Relief Fund, a report of which he said was in tnat morning’s papers. He did not intend enter into the merits or demerits of the question, but he noticed that Mr. Stanhope, of Cannon Hall, made a speech in which he tried his best to show the colliers that they did not suffer anything like in proportion to what the employers did in these distressed times. (Laughter.)
The sum and substance of Mr. Stanhope’s speech was to show that the miners had plenty of money and that they could pay extra to the Permanent stand any reductions, and that they lived in clover. (Laughter.)
Mr. Teas had also taxed the association with spending the widows’ and orphans’ money, but (Mr. Parrott) was there deny that; it had only been borrowed, like the Permanent Relief money was lent, and had been paid back. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. Merry also addressed the meeting, and the following resolution was passed; “ That we, the miners of Denaby Main Colliery, are more determined than ever to have a strong organisation, so it can get a few shares of the profits accruing from our industry, believing that it is the only way in which our rights can protected, both local and imperial, we pledge ourselves to join the Yorkshire Miners’ Association.’’