Extract from 1871 Truck Report
In the Summerlee Works (Messrs. Wilsons & Co.) there are rather more than 2,000 men. The wages are paid monthly, but advances are given once a week, and sometimes once a day. Six stores are connected with these works, under one head storekeeper who superintends the whole, and the same system prevails at all the six.
The total wages earned for the year ending Whit Sunday 1869 were £79,804. The total advances were £41,704, of which £22,958 were spent at the store.
The advances are given in the expectation that 75% should be left at the store and if the workman does not leave 75% he is refused his advance when he comes for it next time. A "black book," containing the names of those who slope the store, is kept here as one of the regular office books, and is described by Mr. Muir, the cashier,in the following way :
Q Will you explain the system by which you compare these books together?
- When a workman puts his book in for money it is entered in his pass
book, and in our advance book. If he gets 5s. and leaves 5s. at the
store it is not entered in this book. If he takes 5s. away it is put
down in the small book, and we know by that who takes away the money. If
a person gets 10s. and takes away 5s., and leaves 5s., he is marked in
this book as a defaulter for having taken away 5s.
Q That is a book containing a roll of the men who slope ? - Yes.
Q It is the black book in fact ? - Yes.
Q Do all the stores keep a black book ? - Yes, all of them, more or less.
Q You believe that is a common thing ? - Yes.
Q The black book shows the men who slope, and the amount they slope ? - Yes.
The plan of stopping books is rigorously employed at these works, and the worst cases are distinguished from the ordinary cases of "sloping" by a red cross being prefixed to them. "They are people," Mr. Muir told us, "who do it perpetually."
The common custom here seems to be to give blank lines or tickets, which may be taken away or filled up as the customers prefer. The amount for which the lines are available is marked upon each, and when they are exchanged for goods the storeman who serves tears off the names of the customer. The store-keeper was pressed as to the object of this, and explained that the practice was established after consultation with an eminent lawyer, who advised him to tear off the names, "to keep things as safe as possible." Both the storekeeper and the cashier admitted that advances are given in lines, without money passing. The storekeeper further allowed that he had no check upon the under-storemen, and that at the other stores belonging to the company such a thing might occur, though he did not think it would and never heard even a suspicion of it.
Here also, as at various other stores, a difference is made between the prices for their goods paid by the clerks and those paid by the workmen, the clerks being allowed 5% discount on their accounts, while the workmen have to pay in full.
A large amount of business in the public-house department is done at these stores. Statistics were handed in of the quantity of malt and spirits consumed, from which it appeared that there was consumed:
- In 1869 - 2,489 gallons of spirits.
- In 1869 - 3,406 gallons of malt.
- In 1870 - 2,895 gallons of spirits.
- In 1870 - 3,865 gallons of malt.
We did not enter minutely into the calculation of the profits of these stores, but the cashier admitted that in the year ending May 1870 he made 13 ¼ % upon the turn over, and cent, per cent, or rather more on the outlay, while in 1869 he realised 130 % on the gross outlay. The storekeeper, Mr. Gordon, had had considerable experience of the operation of the system of advancing, and told us that he considered it a bad system, that it had "a degrading and demoralising tendency altogether" and "squeezed down" the men. "Their credit," he said "is cut off, and in case of sickness, they have to fall back on the pawnshop, or be indebted to their friends for their support." What he wished to see was the establishment of stores without any compulsion exercised upon the men to deal in them, semi-co-operative stores in which the men would have an interest.
Complaints were made by some of the people of the quality of the articles sold at the store, but no substantial case in this respect was made out. The prices were a good deal impugned, especially of oil, powder, sugar, tea, bread, and flour. Mr. Gordon stated that he thought his store was "much on a par with respectable shops." The store ought to be able, he admitted, to sell a great deal cheaper, but we are not inclined to do so. I never thought it my duty to do so. No substantial check seemed to be kept by him on the prices of the sub-stores. It is almost impossible, he added, that I can have a check upon them.
On a sample from Summerlee store, submitted to him by Mr. Cameron last May, Mr. McCulloch reported:-
Q What was submitted to you by Mr. Cameron ? - Here is one from Summerlee store. "Sugar, quality good; half ounce short weight on half pound. Cheese, short weight and dear; half ounce under. Tobacco, short weight, two drachms. Butter, fairish value." That is the report on the Summerlee store; it dated 17th May 1870.
The people also complained that there was no choice for them, if they did not like an article the storeman would not change it for them, and that they could not, pick and choose.
McKilwee, a miner who worked till four years ago at the Kipper works, belonging to the Summerlee Company, stated that while he was there the store system was very severely worked at one time, the pay men in his pit, as well as the advance men, being compelled to go to the store.
At Jerviston (also belonging to the Summerlee Company) the system is administered as described previously [click here].
Complaints were made at the Summerlee works of the school and doctor's off takes. The school off take is deducted from the men's wages whether they have or have not children. Roman Catholics who do not use the school are equally compelled to pay this off take. The men wish to have the appointment of the schoolmaster. The men would also desire to appoint their own doctor. Weekly pays would be perfectly feasible at these works.
Abstract of Evidence
George Armstrong, workman.
I was formerly at Summerlee. Those works belong to Messrs. Wilson. They are ironworks. We were expected to take our advances to the store there - partly, but not wholly. They were not so strict as Drumpellier. If you got 5s. at Summerlee, you could then take away 2s. 6d. This is one of the lines from Summerlee. There is 3s. 6d. marked at the bottom, which means that I would give the money to the storekeeper, who would give me a line, and I could get goods to the amount of 3s. 6d. If that line was lost now the money would never be got from the storekeeper. I would by no means get back the 3s. 6d. I have never lost a line of that sort, but my wife has lost one at Jerviston, belonging to the same company, and under the same storekeeper. She was just at the door when it was blown away from her. A woman ran after it, but could not get it. My wife went to the storeman and told him about it. She said, "You remember what was on that line ?" He said, "Yes." She said, "Well, you will surely give me the articles." He said he could not do it without the line. All the stores that ever I have been in the habit of dealing with the men have been dissatisfied with; they would rather take shorter pays, and have no stores.
Mrs Margaret Armstrong
What my husband said is all true: On one occasion when I got an advance, I took;away part of it, and when I went back the book was stopped. The clerk said there was no cash for me, for I had taken away the last cash I got. I speered the reason, and he said I would know it myself. When I came out of the office, a woman at the door told me to go to the storeman. I spoke to the storeman, and he came across with me and spoke to the clerk. I went home without cash ; afterwards the storeman went with me, and spoke to the clerk, and I got the money the second time, and sloped it again. I went back a third time and spoke to the clerk, and he would not give me an advance; Then I got it a third time, and I sloped the half of it again, and durst not go back; I was finished; I durst not go back because I knew I was scored off. He had told me that I need not come back again if I took away that. I preferred to buy my provisions at the shops, because they were cheaper and as good; every article - sugar, tea, butter, tobacco, meal, bread, and everything are cheaper and as good, potatoes and every article, and bread that was 6d. at the store, was 5 1/2d. in the shops, as good every bit, and I got pay bread along with it. Oil was 1s. 8d. at the shops, and 2s. in the store. The weight was good.
Mrs Margaret Hogg
My husband is a collier, and works for Messrs. Wilson of Summerlee. My book has been stopped many a time ; it was stopped on the 15th and 16th of last month for sloping the store. Nothing was said, but I had to go to Mr. Muir; he told me I would get no cash, but I must go to the store and get a line. I asked why I would get no cash. He said I must go to the store and get a line. I went and got the line, and I got goods for it, and no money passed between me and the storeman. That has happened many a time. There was very little they had at the store but what was indifferent and dearer than in the shops. Oil was 2d. a pint dearer; powder, 1 1/2d. a pound dearer; sugar and tea, and bread and flour, and everything is 1/2d. and 1d. dearer than in the shops, and not better, but worse.
I am a collier at Summerlee. It is a good while since I had my book stopped. The goods are some of them as good as in the shops, but dearer. Oil and bread are dearer. Ham is dearer but as good.
I am a collier at Summerlee. Of course I am compelled to lay out my advances at the store. My book was stegged last month. When my wife went to get cash the cashier would not tell her what it was for, but said she knew herself. He kept her from the morning before 9 o'clock till the afternoon, I believe, without any cash. The provisions are very good at present, better than for the last month back. There has not for the last four or five weeks I would say been so much stegging as before. The store has mended a good deal these 4 or 5 weeks.
I am a collier at Summerlee. I am obliged to take my cash in advance every day from the office, and to spend it at the store, or the best half of it. If I could do without the cash I need not take advances, but I cannot. I sometimes slope the store, and my book has been stopped for it, that is the custom. I pay 8d. a month for schooling. I have three children. I pay 8d. a month for the doctor, 5d. a month for water, and 5d. per 100 feet for gas, and 4d. for meter and pipes.
I work for Messrs. Wilson, at Summerlee. When my wife takes away more than half the advances they steg her. The men do not like the store. I think the reason is they would rather have the money to do what they like with, but also they do not think they get so good value in the stores as at Coatbridge with ready money. I think I could lay out 18s. in a shop as well as £1 at the store. About a year ago I had a child that died. I was then working to a contractor, and he cashed my line to go and get £1, but they would not give it to my wife. My book was stegged. That was just the morning that the child died. I told Mr. Muir what it was for. He told my wife to come back at 10 o'clock, and when she came he did not speak to her, but turned away. She told him what she wanted the money for, and he told her he could do nothing for her. There was £1 coming to me then. The workmen took pity on her and gave 6d, apiece all round to bury the child. She did not go back for five days. By that time the child was buried.
I am a collier at Summerlee. My book has been stopped three or four times this last 12 months. It was stopped last Thursday or Friday three weeks. Since then it has been stopped, and my wife has taken away the money daily. It will be three or four months ago that I began to take all my money away. They are not so particular as they used to be.
I am a collier at Summerlee. My book has never been stopped. I get money in advance, and I have always spent some of it at the store. I do not like the store, because I think I could deal better with ready money. I think I could get better articles and cheaper.
Mrs Jane Cleland
My husband works in the coal pits at Summerlee. When I get the money I am obliged to take it to the store. Out of 6s. or 7s. the cashier said I might keep 1s. That was Mr. Muir. I never went past the store I have many times had my book stopped, but I never left less than half the money in the store. They stopped me for taking away the half. The last time was last month. At the store when they put down the article you have asked for you must take it with you, let it he good or bad; they will not let us pick and choose. The articles are dearer than at Coatbridge. The gunpowder is 6d. a pound which I have got at 4 1/2d. in the shops, and I understand it is to be got at 4d.
Mrs Catherine Cameron
My husband works at Summerlee coal pits. I can keep a part of the advance money, 1s. out of 6s., or 2s. 6d. out of 10s. The bread is 1/2d. dearer than at the shops.
I am a furnaceman at Summerlee. I have not got advances for two or three years. I did not require them. They never stopped my book. I never was threatened to be dismissed for sloping. No others to my knowledge are allowed to carry away cash without changing it for goods ; we are exceptions.
I am a furnaceman at Summerlee. I can take away the cash advances by sending over to the store. There was never anyone checked me for taking away a little of it. I have not been in the habit of taking it all away. Sometimes I have. My book was never stopped but once, and that was six or seven months ago.
James Muir, cashier
I am cashier at Summerlee for 19years. Our pays are monthly. We advance sometimes twice a week, sometimes once a week, and sometimes every day, according to the case. We expect an advance man will leave 75 per cent, or so at the store; if he does not he is refused his advance when he comes next time. This book contains a roll of men who slope the store : it is the black book. All stores keep a black book more or less. It shows the men who slope, and the amount they slope. I keep the book. My object is to see who take away the money and how much. I use it as a check, not on the storekeeper but on the workmen. If I find a workman's name recurring, I would stop his book. I would say nothing to him. I would just stop his book. They know what that means. If men persist in not spending 75 per cent of the advances at the store we think it reasonable to stop their book. Our total wages for the year ending Whitsunday, 1869, were £79,800 and our total advances were £41,700 that is 52 per cent of the total wages were advanced. Of the advances, £22,968 were spent at the store and there were £7,267 of sales to other persons in the same period. That amount of £7,000 odd includes the sales to workmen who do not take advances. Taking the year 1870, the amounts are, total wages £97,700, total advances £46,500, total of advances spent in the store £23,500. Total of sales to other persons including pay-men £7,360. That is for one store alone. We use the store for the purpose of assisting us to find cash for the advances. In 1870 we advanced £46,000. and we got back from the store £23,000. Fortnightly pays might be practicable but weekly pays would be a great nuisance. Making up our books for a month takes us about four days, and if we had no store and no advances it would take three days. As to the pig-iron it would be quite possible for the timekeepers to bring us every day the time the workmen have been working; there would be no difficulty, and so in the collieries it would be perfectly feasible to make out opposite each name every day or within 12 hours of their leaving off work what was due to them. So far as making up the account of what is due to the men goes, daily pays would be perfectly feasible. I see no reason whatever why with the same staff and no more expense we should not every day pay to a man what he has earned the day before if he chose to come for it. In our present style of advancing we have to calculate what they have wrought for the day previous, so that the same calculation is done every day. I have such a hatred of daily or weekly pays, from the trouble involved in them, that I would not like to give an opinion as to whether they would keep men from drink or not. I could not contradict Mrs. Hogg as to what she says, but I have no recollection of it. I would not pledge my oath. I have paid advances in lines instead of money, but not frequently. It is very unusual. I brought Black here yesterday. I can give no reason why he sometimes got off, although he sloped the entire amount. It must be quite an accident, and unintentional on my part. He has such a small wage that it is not worth paying much attention to. His being allowed to slope would decidedly be no illustration of the principle at all. You may take it that if Black has sloped habitually without having his advances stopped, it must have been an accident, and it would be contrary to the practice of the office. In the scroll book which I have produced, the red crosses against the names of certain individuals are those whom I wish stopped. They were the worst men. They had done it before. They are people that do it perpetually. The gross sales at all our stores for the year ending 1869 are £31,000, and for the year ending May 1870 they are £31,550. The purchases for 1869 are £25,300, and the working expenses £1,215. The purchases for the year 1870 are £26,250, and the working expenses £1,395. The capital sunk in 1869 in six stores, including shop fixtures, was £3,500; for the year 1870 it is £3,680. The discounts for the year 1870 were £700. The profit for 1869 is £4,024, for 1870 it is £4177. That for 1869 is a profit of 13 per cent on the sales, and for 1870 is 13 1/4 per cent on the sales ; that is cent per cent on the outlay. I have no objection to these figures going in your notes as they stand. The first year, 1869, it was 130 per cent, on the gross outlay.
I am a bricklayer at Summerlee. I am allowed to carry away my money at my own pleasure. My advances have never been stopped. I keep an account at the store. There are a dozen bricklayers who do so. I have always gone to the store, except when I could not get what I wanted there. I have three, or four men working under me, and I think they took their money all away. I told them if they could get their things as cheap at the store they might as well deal there as at any other place. I spoke to them, because I thought it was better to leave the money at the store where we were getting our work, rather than take it to another place. Nobody told me to do it. It is understood at our works that we contractors should induce our men to go to the store if possible. There is no understanding. It is an understanding that that they ought to understand themselves. When there is a store to supply them they ought to go there. That is the understanding. I have no understanding that they should go to the store. It is only their own opinion, they may go if they like, and if not they may stop away.
I am a pattern maker at Summerlee. The prices are something the same as at the shops. The things that are dearer I do not take. If a man gets advances he is expected to go to the store. If he takes his money on pay-day he may go free. I think the store is very good. I think there is a great deal of fancy in the dislike for the store. If they did not give me credit at the store I would rather go to a private shop. I will not say the store is better than the shops. I go there because I think it is a sort of duty. I think being in the employment of the company I should give their store a turn, so long as it is as good as the shops. My view about the store is, that it is a tolerably good store, and that the articles are of good quality at fair prices.
I am a clerk in the office at Summerlee and secretary to the Summerlee Friendly Sick Society. I get all my tea, sugar and soap from the store and nothing else. I get them at retail prices, but less 5% when I pay the account. I am quite satisfied. It is a very good store. All the other clerks get 5% off as I do.
Andrew Gordon, store manager
I am storekeeper at Messrs. Wilson's works over the whole of their stores, which are six in number. It is my duty to make all purchases and sales and to account for both. I have often been at the store when the men come. There is the same system at all the stores. Last May we had about 2,000 men. We had about 150 petty accounts of persons not cash-advance men. I cannot account for the fact that we have such a small sale except amongst the cash-advance men. I find the workmen look pretty sharply after the prices and quality. I do not say that our store is better than the private shops. I do not know why, if it is as good, the men do not come to the store. I can only account for it by the adverse feeling prevailing amongst the workmen against stores in general. I think we are much on a par with respectable shops. We ought to be able to sell a great deal cheaper, but we are not inclined to do so. I never thought it my duty to do so, I never tried to do it. I fix the prices of the articles, except the local purchases. I give the head storeman discretionary power as to articles such as potatoes, fresh butter and eggs, which are what we call local purchases. This is the book by which I check the prices charged by my substoremen. So far as I am concerned they may charge a halfpenny a pound more than I know anything about, but I think it is very unlikely. This is one of our lines. We always tear off the name at the bottom, when the line is finished. I can scarcely explain why that is, but I can tell you the cause of it. There was at one time a rumpus about the Truck Act I think it was a question about Shotts. I consulted a very eminent lawyer now deceased whose name I would not like to mention, and he advised me to do so, to keep things as safe as possible, so that as a matter of law I cannot explain the bearings of that, but that is the fact. I followed up his instructions. It has happened in my store that I have given the men lines without any money passing. I know of two cases in which that was customarily done; in one it was accidental, and that was all I know of. We have not a public-house license at the store, but we do let them drink on the premises occasionally, but as little as possible. I have had over 32 years' experience of stores, and I look on them as a great accommodation and benefit to workmen generally speaking. Get quit of compulsion, and the more competition existing the better for the workmen. Keep the shop competing with the store, and the store competing with the shop. I certainly do not approve of the system of compulsion that exists at present. Giving my private opinion, I think the whole system of advancing is a bad system. It has a damaging effect upon the workmen generally, and the oftener it is done the worse. I have seen the bad results of it. I can go back to a time, 20 years ago, when the workmen in our place could buy a whole cheese, or a boll of meal, or a bag of potatoes. They were respectable men, and we depended on their word, and they bought their goods cheaper. Buying a whole cheese they would get it a 1/2d. a pound cheaper, and the meal in proportion. They got in a supply and they did not require to go backwards and forwards about the store as they have to do according to the present system, and that added to their feeling of respectability and independence. The advance system has a degrading and demoralising tendency altogether. You squeeze down a man, and if you confine a man to a day's wage the public round about see that he is squeezed down to that day. I see a way by which I could almost guarantee that by giving the men a fair proportion of the profits a fund would be realised sufficient to give a most excellent education to all the children of the 2,000 men employed about these works, and to support a friendly society at the usual rates, and other benefits, besides a profit to the masters. What we want is to get 75 per cent, without compulsion, and all that is required to carry out a scheme of that kind is, that the Truck Act should only apply to those places in which the workmen do not largely participate in the profits.
I formerly worked at Summerlee. We were expected to take our cash to the store. I have known people almost starving because they could not get cash, and because they could not get their books opened, although they had plenty of money lying. They were told to bring back the money they took away last, and they would get their cash as usual. I have seen that done very regularly in Summerlee, and also at Drumpellier.
William McCulloch, wholesale and retail grocer
I have reported on samples from Summerlee store as follows : Sugar, quality good, half an ounce short weight on a half pound. Cheese, short weight and dear, half an ounce under. Tobacco, short weight 2 drams. Butter, fairish value. That report is dated 17th May 1870.
Mrs Archibald Black
My husband works at Summerlee. Except for two or three months I have always dealt there. My book has been frequently stopped. At one time I left the store for two or three months, because they refused me goods. About 15 years ago the gaffer came and threatened my husband. A short time since my son, David Black, sloped the store with £1, and his book was immediately stopped; they do not stop my book now. I do not know why. No one has spoken to me lately. Last Thursday Mr. Muir, the cashier, sent for me to come down and speak to him. My husband had been up to him the day before. When mv daughter was married, two year ago, I believe I did get some money and carried it all away. I could not have carried it away if it had not been for the marriage. I was under no compulsion to put it into the store. I do not know very well what to say about the store. I would like a shop as well, because I am not very well treated in the store. Sometimes I get good articles, and sometimes not; sometimes very bad, sometimes better, sometimes worse. They never have very good ham, and they very often have ill-tasted butter. It would be more to our profit if I were to get my husband's winnings, and were free to go with them where I liked. I never could save anything in the store. My son was not discharged within the last month.
I have lately bought samples at the Summerlee stores. The sugar which was charged 5d. at the store seemed to be about 4 1/2 d. in the shops of the same quality. The store butter seemed to be inferior in quality at the same price ; I did not ask as to the tea.
I used to work at Summerlee, and I have a boy there now. Where I work now there is poundage at 1s. in the pound. At Summerlee, if they take away more than 2s. out of 10d. of their advances, their books are stopped. My wife would not go to the store at Summerlee, whether it was good or bad, if she could help it; but she was obliged to go. She does not think it is as good as the shops round about : the prices are too dear, and the goods not to her mind. I was once at a work called the Kipper, which belonged to the Summerlee company. There, if you took away your cash, the book was stopped. The fireman belonging to the pit I was in there, came round the place to my own knowledge, and told the men that they were to deal in the store, otherwise they would have to leave. He also said that he would have to deal in it himself. The men are not satisfied with the off-takes. They are not satisfied with the doctoring and the schooling - at least some of them, but some are. I have heard some complain about having to pay school money while they have no children at school. The Roman Catholics are not bound to send their children to the school, but the money is kept off them for the school. They complain about the school off-take. They think they ought not to pay for their children when they do not go to school. The men would like to appoint their own doctor.
I used to work for the Summerlee company at Jerviston. There you are compelled, to a certain degree, to take your money to the store, because if you do not you get nothing more during that month. Even on the pay day, if you cash 5s. or 6s., and if you take that sum away,you would get no more till the month's end, or till the up-lift day. I was often sent for to the office, to see if I could not do without taking away a shilling or so when I required them. It was Mr. Ferguson, the head clerk, spoke to me. He sent for me once, and asked me why I took away more money than others. I said, I like a shilling or two now and then. He said, What do you do with it? I said, I do different things with it. At present I am taking out the works of Robert Burns, and I require 1s. fortnightly for that. He said, Do not slope the store, but come up to me, and I will give you a shilling or two when you want it. I went pretty often to him for it after that, and he turned tired of it in the end. I believe I would have got my leave on account of that, if it had not been that we were a pretty large family, and that we did a good deal at the store. I always thought that a man who dealt with a store had a little more privilege in the work than a man who did not deal there; but that is a long time ago - 13 years. I think we should have the choosing of our own doctor and of our own schoolmasters. That is the universal feeling amongst the men. I do not mean to say that the present man is not attentive, but if the men had the choosing of their doctor be would not be there. There are many Roman Catholics. I have a complaint to make about the doctor.
I was formerly at Jerviston and at Summerlee. If you did not take a house at Jerviston, and take out all your stuff out of the store, you would not be in their employment. I was obliged to go because all the young men were to be compelled to take a house. I have three sons and they were going to compel one of them to take a house. The manager, Henry Ferguson, himself said he could not help it, but the houses were standing empty, so we left. Every man in Jerviston to this day has to take a house and go to the store. That is one of the rules they have. Plenty have been dismissed at Jerviston for not going to the store, and taking a house. John Stark was turned out, Alexander Adams was turned out, and there was a heap more, but I do not remember their names. I swear that my sons were told by the manager that unless they took a house and went to the store, they could not be in that work. I was never pressed by any other company. Mr. Forbes the underground manager said it was a rule laid down to him that every young man in the work had to take a house, because they had a wheen houses standing empty in the square. I said I would not take it. He said they must go to the store too. That was 17 or 18 months ago. I am decidedly prepared to swear that James Forbes said to me, I must take a house for my son and go to the store.
Mrs Margaret Howieson
At Jerviston everybody was obliged to go to the store, except if you waited till the pay-day, but when there was no employment you had to leave the work if you did not go to the store.
Six or seven years ago I was at Jerviston. I was dismissed eight or nine years ago from there. When I went down in the pit the under overseer told me I was to clear up, and I asked why. He said ," cannot tell." I asked the overseer above and he said, "Oh, it is a paltry thing, if you store, there will be no more about it." I did not know what he meant by "store," and I went to the head man above him, and he said, "It is because you take nothing out of the store." I left there and then. There have been numbers dismissed from Jerviston, back and forward. I think there were about 14 or 15 dismissed about the same time as myself. They were not all for sloping the store.
At Jerviston, where I formerly was, the men were expected to spend their advances. There were understood to be two sections of men. There was one section who dealt regularly, there were others who were called the monthly visitors, who went on the uplift day and did not return until the following uplift or month's pay. If you were absent on any of those occasions they might come round to you, and they would not distinctly state that you were required to go to the store, but they would say that such and such a man was waiting to see you, and that it was such a time since you had been there, giving you a hint, although not stating it distinctly, that you were expected to go to the store. It was the manager who did that. He spoke equally to the daily men and to the monthly men. Those who went regularly to the store he did not require to speak to, but there were several of us who were in the habit of going only once a month, being what we term the monthly visitors, and if we happened to have a man amongst us who had not gone to the store, he would get a hint that there was such and such a person wondering what had become of him.
I formerly worked at Summerlee. We were civilly treated there. It was better than Watson's.
I worked at Jerviston till two or three months ago. I left it because they were always upon me about taking a house, and I would not take one. I got my own leave, because I would not take a house, and because I was not taking enough out of the store. They told me that was the reason. The storeman told me so. The manager told me I was not taking enough out of the store. His name was John Forbes.
I am a miner at Summerlee. My book has not been stopped for 12 months. Mr. Muir came to me last Thursday and asked me if I was able to go before the Commission.
Mrs Agnes Hay
My husband works at Summerlee. We are expected to go to the store with advances, and our book is stopped if we do not. I was spoken to last week and the week before by Mr. Muir. He said I would not get one penny that night. There were three of us who knocked at his door, and he told us to go away, or else he would get the police to us. This last Friday and the week before he told me to go away for my book was always stopped. I prefer the shops to the store, because I cannot pick and choose in the store. They have only one kind of tea at 5d. for the two ounces, or 9 1/2d. for the quarter pound. I have only seen one sort of sugar, and that is 5d. It is pretty good sugar, but I can get as good in the shops for 4 1/2d.
Mrs Ann McQueen
My husband works at Summerlee. I get my book stopped for sloping the store. Mr. Muir has spoken to me last week and the week before. He used always to speak to us himself. None of the oversmen or managers ever spoke to my husband. Almost everything in the store is too dear.
Gavin Laurie, store manager at Jerviston
We take the money that comes from the office and give the men goods for it. We frequently give them lines without getting the money when they ask for an obligement. I get the money for the lines as the men can afford to pay it. It is almost always the wives to whom I give it. I never get money for those lines from the clerks. The books are not very often but sometimes stopped at Jerviston. I have made complaints to the managers about the men not taking their money to the store, but not since about a year ago. I spoke to John Forbes, the underground manager. Forbes deals at the stores, and so do all the managers who live in the neighbourhood. The clerks and manager get 5% off their bills. Forbes gets nothing. The cases where they passed lines without cash to the advance men were cases of credit. I never gave lines without getting cash, and then deducting as for cash on the pay-day. I have known the ground manager or cashier go and speak to the men for not dealing. I know John Stark. I cannot say whether I reported him for sloping, not for a long time. We keep only one kind of tea in the store, price 3s. 4d. per pound, and only one kind of sugar, price 5d. per pound. I suppose it is a general understanding that when a man comes to our works he is to go to our store.
I am cash advance clerk at Jerviston. When we run out of cash at the cash advance office I get more cash from the manager.
I am a spirit merchant at Sunnyside. The Summerlee men never bring me lines. I do not deal at the store, because I consider that I get my goods more reasonable from shopkeepers in the district. There is a general complaint about the stores in the neighbourhood. The men often mention the prices they have to pay in the store, and it is generally considered that although the prices may be the same, the private shops have the best articles. I have heard many complaints. I think Summerlee is the one that has got the worst name along with the smaller ones round about it.
W. P. Pattison
I am a consulting actuary. This paper appears to contain extracts from the private books of the Clarkston store, belonging to the Summerlee company. The profit shown on goods bought in May 1869, appears to be 24%, the profit on purchases from May to September 1869, 20%. There are other extracts showing a profit on the whole of the items slightly in excess of 20%. In the paper appearing to be an extract from the store account of the Summerlee company the amount for which credit is taken in respect of discounts for the year ending the 15th of May, namely, £752, would be in addition to the 120% of profit from the sale of goods.