Dalmellington Iron Co - Extract from Truck Report 1871

The Dalmellington Iron Company's works are in Ayrshire, and employ about 2,000 hands. The system pursued here was highly spoken of by Mr. Cameron.

The pays are weekly, and there are no advances, nor any charge for poundage. This arrangement has been in force for 16 years, and during all that time, according to Mr. Hunter, the manager, no difficulty had been experienced. It has worked well both in respect to the machinery of the works and the machinery in the pay office. Four shops belong to the company, but the men are free to use them or not as they please. There is no compulsion ; they are paid their wages every Saturday night, and they can go where they like.

Weekly pays, therefore, are not impossible even in large ironworks.

In comparing the general appearance of villages where weekly pays are prevalent with that of places where they do not exist, Mr. Cameron says :

There is one very marked case in Dalmellington, which belongs to the same firm as the Coltness Iron Company, I believe. There they have weekly pays, and they give no advance whatever in the interim. They don't sell any spirits ; they sell beer only; and I must say that in going through that village I was very much struck with the tidy and prosperous and cleanly appearance of the people.

Abstract of Evidence

John Hunter

I am the manager of Dalmellington ironworks. We employ about 2,000 men. We pay weekly and give no advances and charge no poundage. We have four shops in connexion with the works under our own management. They are principally used by the workmen. The works are not in a populous place, and there are very few inhabitants there, except the workpeople. I have never heard any complaints as to the quality of the goods at our shops. The weekly pay system has been in operation for 16 years, and I have had experience of it all that time. I have found no difficulty with regard to weekly pays. We have found it to work very well with us as regards the machinery in the works, and the machinery in the pay-office, otherwise we would not have carried it on for 16 years. Our shops are not in any sense of the word co-operative stores. The profits belong to the company. The men are not expected in any way to deal at the stores. They may go where they like, but practically they do go there because the principal private shops are distant about two miles on one side of the works and three miles on the other. There are smaller private shops in the adjoining villages. I consider those stores to be a boon to the workmen. I have heard the evidence that managers, as a rule, are opposed to stores. I think stores are bad when compulsion is used. I know of no other works in Ayrshire conducted on the same principle as our own. None of the men at Dalmellington think that they are expected to go to the store. They are not expected, and they know that they are not expected. They are paid their wages every Saturday night, and can go where they like. We have no advance men. I think our stores pay pretty well.