The “Bag Dirt” Strike – The Wheels Stopped

July 1902

Mexborough and Swinton Times July 4th 1902

The Wheels Stopped

Although there was a large attendance at the meeting of the Denaby and Cadeby Lodges of the Y.M.A. on Sunday morning, it cannot be said that the majority of the miners employed at both pits was present.

But the news that a stoppage had been agreed upon soon spread, with the result that many who had not been at the meeting became quite reconciled to the idea that they would be no more work that night.

The two pits had been standing for the latter part of the previous week, to allow for festivities on the Coronation of Edward VII, and because of this absence from work a number of workmen may not have known of the arrangement for a joint meeting of the Denaby and Cadeby Lodges. Early on the Monday morning pickets were posted at both pits to inform men going to work of the decision which had been taken, and a further mass meeting of the men was held in the forenoon near the Reresby Arms Hotel, only a hundred yards from the Denaby pithead. This meeting also decided to remain out until their grievances were settled.

The “bag muck” question was not the only point at dispute “and the Cadeby men considered that apart from the “bag dirt” question they have quite sufficient to complain of to warrant them joining in the strike with the Denaby men”. These additional grievances were:

  1. a) The discontinuance of the imposition of fines on miners for petty matters.
  2. b) A full adherence to the arrangements of July 22nd 1898 as to pit lads’ wages.
  3. c) The company to make up the wages of men working in difficult places to a fair day’s pay, as is done at other collieries.
  4. d) The fixing of a price list for contractors to work to.

On the subject of fines for what was termed “dirty coal” the men felt very strongly and on the pit lads’ wages it was felt that no lad starting at the pit should be paid less than ls.3d. a day (instead of 1 shilling), and that he should have an automatic increase of 11/ d. a day after every six months without regard to any merit rises due to him. In regard to the contractors it was stated that there was no fixed price list and that the company paid whatever they chose.6

The Denaby and Cadeby strike decision was reported to the Yorkshire Miners’ Executive on the Monday following the Sunday mass meeting and the following resolution was passed:

“That Mr. Cowey be instructed to wire the secretaries of the Denaby and Cadeby Main branches, stating that in the opinion of this executive, they ought to have a meeting, and agree to resume work at once, as they are out contrary to the rules and regulations of the Association.”

To this an answer was sent from Denaby and Cadeby to the effect that at a meeting of 3,000 of the men, they had unanimously decided to abide by the action they had taken.