The “Bag Dirt” Strike – Reply from the Lodge Secretaries

July 1902

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Friday 11 July 1902

Reply from the Lodge Secretaries

The Lodge Secretaries of Denaby and Cadeby subsequently issued the following appeal to all the branches of the Y.M.A. giving the workmen’s views of the “bag dirt” question and requesting the support of branches on the issue of strike pay.

“Appended you will find the full facts of our case as to the reason of our men setting the pits down, which affects upwards of 3,000 men and boys. The main grievance is with reference to the “bag dirt”, which has so altered this last ten years that instead of being from four inches to ten inches in thickness it has gained in thickness from two feet to a yard thick and wants the hammer and wedge using to get it down, where in former days it used to fall by itself after the bags had been out. We have tried for the last five or six years to get this burning grievance remedied, but have failed.

The men have refused to get the whole thickness down. They have been in the habit of leaving about ten inches up, and the masters have sent contractors in to do this work and stop the money out of the colliers’ wages to pay these men with. Upwards of £50 have been stopped in this way. We took the case into Court, sueing for this money from the Colliery Company, and the judge decided against us, but stated that in his opinion that the time had now arrived when we should meet the masters and arrange a new price list, seeing the work had so altered since the price list was arranged in 1890. Since the action we have tried to come to some amicable understanding but have failed.

On Saturday, June 18th, a stoppage was made out of the men’s wages on one particular district to the extent of £8.15s.0d., which in some cases amounted to 17/9 per man. Through this action a mass meeting was called on Sunday morning, when a resolution was carried, “That the wheels of both Denaby and Cadeby be stopped, until such times as our grievances were remedied”, and the opinion of our men is, that, although we have stopped without notice, it was the only way to get our grievances remedied.

We ask you to read this circular before your branch meeting asking that your delegate shall be sent to the Council Meeting on July 14th, 1902, to vote in favour of our men being paid “strike pay”.

We remain, on behalf of the men, yours truly,

GEO. H. HIRST and GEO. SMITH, Secs.”