Trouble at Denaby & Cadeby Collieries – Majority Favour Strike – Bag Dirt Problem

September 1901

Mexborough and Swinton Times, September 6.

Trouble at Denaby and Cadeby Collieries.
Proposal to Hand in Notices.
Result of Ballot.
Majority in Favour of a Strike.

There is not to be a strike at Denaby and Cadeby collieries – just yet.

A ballot taken out on Tuesday and Wednesday shows that out of the 2073 men were given ballot papers, a majority of 229, was in favour of handing in 14 days´ notice to leave work. This majority, however, is not sufficiently large. It is absolutely necessary under the rules of the Yorkshire Miners Association that a two thirds majority shall be obtained before notices can be handed in, consequently, there will be no strike. For which relieve much thanks.

But at the same time the grievances of the men remain unremedied.

The official figures as to the voting, which were made known on Wednesday evening, were as under.


In favour of giving 14 days notice 713.  Against 484. Spoilt papers 4


In favour of giving 14 days notice 423 Against 423.Spoilt papers 6 Neutral 20

Aggregate for 1136

Aggregate against 907

The poll is a very heavy one, 2073 papers being marked. No lads under 18 years of age were allowed to vote. There are over 3,300 men and boys employed at both collieries.

The principal cause of the unrest among the men is a practice of the colliery company in declining to pay for the removal of what is known as “bag dirt.” The men contend that under the accepted an approved priceless of 1890 payment should be made for this work at the rate of 11d per yard, and in many cases the non-payment means a loss of about 2 shilling a week to each of the particular workmen affected. At no other colliery in South Yorkshire, is this work done for nothing.

For several years efforts have been made to settle this matter. There have been frequent interviews recently between the representatives of the men and the management, with the object of remedying this and other grievances that were discussed at the same time. The result of these meetings was unsatisfactory.

Recently, Mr B Picard, M.P., the secretary of the Yorkshire Miners Association, met Mr W.H.Chambers, general manager of the college, but the gentleman did not succeed in bringing about an alteration in the existing state of affairs. It is not as if the men were asking for a concession; they request that they shall be paid according to the agreed price list. This being the case, the attitude of the management of the colliery appears all the more difficult to understand.

The ordinary efforts of settling a trade dispute having failed, the matter was laid before the district, and permission was given, in accordance with the rules of the Miners Association, for the men at Denaby and Cadeby to take a ballot on the question of whether or not 14 days´ notice to cease work should be handed in.

With the object furnishing the men with the fullest information on the subject several joint meeting of the employees of both collieries were held last week, at which the local officials expressed their views. There was a distinct diversity of opinion, amongst the officials as to the wisdom of resorting to a strike, but all are agreed that the present system of non-payment for the removal of “bag dirt” is an injustice. There was no apathy shown by the men. All the meetings were well attended, and on Sunday morning when an open-air meeting was held at Conisborough, near the Station Hotel, there was again a very large assembly.

Local officials were on the platform, and all aspects of the subject, were put before the men. One official spoke of the tyranny of their employers, and urged the men to make one ball decisive bid for freedom, while another struck a different note, and asked the men to consider well their chances of success before they embarked upon a strike. Still another pointed out that unanimity was required, and that the voting in the ballot to be thoroughly effective one way or the other. It should be absolutely unanimous. The question as to whether or not a ballot should be taken was put, and there was a unanimous agreement that a ballot should be taken.

Though for the present there was not to be a strike, it can be said that the figures are told reassuring. In regard to the future the majority is only 229, but the grievances must be of a substantial character when no less than 1136 workers, many of them with wives and families, and all fully aware of the horrors of strikes, are prepared to adopt this dreadful weapon rather than continue to work under existing conditions.

It should be remembered that the question on the ballot paper was not “Are you satisfied with present conditions?” But “Are you prepared to strike with the object of bringing about an alteration?”

There were 907 men who voted against a strike, probably because they thought the time was not right, but not one of those 907 is satisfied. A feeling of discontent still exists as it has existed before and, while the cause of discontent continues there is always a prospect of trouble for the future. Local officials have had an exceedingly busy time during the past few weeks, and it must be of a temporary relief to them now that the men are expressed their views as to the means to be adopted to bring about an amendment in present conditions.

On the all, it must be said that with perhaps one or two exceptions, the official have spoken and acted with great moderation. The men have thus been able to consider what they were doing, and the ballot papers have not been marked in a passion.

It is sincerely to be old that every effort will be made on both sides to remove existing grievances, and thus decrease the prospect of a strike.

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