Trades' societies and strikes
Trades' societies and strikes - Report of the Committee on Trades Societies, Appointed by the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science. Presented at the 4th Annual Meeting of the Association at Glasgow, September 1860
[Materials: - Answers to the questions concerning Trades' Unions by the Secretary to the Scottish Miners' Association; Official Report on the Mining Districts, 1856, by Mr. Tremenheere.]
The Scottish Miners' Association was founded in 1852. Its original object, as stated in its rules, was the protection of miners' rights and privileges. This is explained to be the prevention of a reduction of wages by providing a fund for the support of men out of work, as is the ordinary case with other trades' unions. Its objects, however, are now expanding, and include, amongst other things, the establishment of co-operative stores to supersede truck shops, an improvement in legislation with respect to mines, the formation of a General Insurance Society for miners, and the redress of several miscellaneous grievances. The Association is composed of local societies, each holding its own money, and remitting only what may be required to cover the necessary expenses of the general Association. There is a central executive consisting of three persons, which, when any circumstances render combined action necessary, summons a meeting of the representatives of the local societies to a conference, and the decisions of that conference guide the action of the whole Association. The entrance money is 6d., and the weekly contribution 1d.
As to strikes, the rule (No. 4) is that "if at any time the work or workmen therein find it necessary to strike for an advance of wages, or from any other necessary cause, the district committee shall refer the matter to a working arbitration. Should the masters refuse this, the men to be supported till the matter is adjusted. Should the men refuse it, they place themselves beyond the pale of the Association." Any local society may separately strike for wages, provided it makes no claim upon the general fund collected from the whole Association, the application of the general fund being regulated only by the conference ; the Society has no rule to prevent its members working with non-unionists ; does not, as the Association thinks, "unfortunately," put any restriction on the hours of labour, nor does it fix any minimum wage ; "wages vary according to the nature, quality, and severity of the work." As to the restriction of the "day" or amount of "get" in a day, which by Mr. Tremenheere is pronounced to be the master-evil of Lanarkshire, it is stated that it was formerly a common custom, and that it still prevails in a few collieries, but in a few only, and that the Miners' Association steadily discountenances it. Members are expelled from the Association if they commit an offence against the law of the land. The Association has means of ascertaining whether work is slack or brisk in different parts of the country, through the columns of the Glasgow Sentinel.
The meetings of the Society used to be held in public-houses ; now places are preferred near which no strong liquor is sold, and no person is permitted to enter in a state of intoxication. The discussion takes place with open doors, the representatives of the various papers are invited to attend, and the proceedings are regularly reported in a newspaper supported by the miners.
The miners appeal to the history of their trade as the strongest proof that without association a fair wage cannot be expected. "In my experience of thirty years in the mines," says their representative, "I am not aware in all the fluctuations, and in Scotland they are very great, of more than three instances where a rise of wages has been obtained, unless by men getting on the defensive." Their first Union was organized in 1835, and in 1836 there was a rise without a strike. In 1837 a reduction was made from 5s. to 4s. per diem ; a strike took place, but new hands were imported, and the Society was extinguished. From 1837-1842 there was no society, the prices of iron and coal were nearly double what they are now, wages were reduced to 2s. 6d. per diem, and even to 1s. 8d. In 1842, wages being still very low, the Society was re-organized, and the men applied to the masters to refer the rate of wages to the arbitration of the Commissioners of Supply for the county of Lanarkshire ; the masters declined, the men then reluctantly struck, and the result was a rise from 1s. to 1s. 6d. per diem of wages all over the country. From 1842-1844 the wages held good, times were prosperous, and the men, thinking there was no need of a society, ceased to support it. In 1844 wages fell, and the Society was revived; wages then rose, and for three years they kept high, and the Society, as before, was left to decline. The representative of the miners goes on to say that from 1847 to 1850 wages remained low, and were only restored in 1850 by an agitation on the part of the men, and that since then they have remained high. He omits however any reference to the great strike of 1847, mentioned by Mr. Tremenheere, in which the men, after standing out fourteen weeks for 5s. a day, accepted the masters' terms of 3s. a day, which in a few weeks were reduced to 2s. a day. And though he refers to the strike of 1856 to prove the absence of intimidation, he abstains from allusion to its causes or result. These, according to Mr. Tremenheere, were as follows : "In November, 1855, the men forced the masters into granting an advance of from 4s. to 5s. a day. Many of the masters, since they could not afford to continue that rate, before long felt obliged to take their stand against it, and to reduce the rate again to 4s. A strike took place : it became general throughout the districts concerned at the beginning of March, and after from 30,000 to 40,000 men had been idle for sixteen weeks, and had inflicted enormous loss upon their masters and the public, and great suffering upon themselves and their families, the event proved that they were again wrong, for they resumed work at their masters' terms."
As a proof that the Association promotes the efficiency of workmen, it is stated that under the regulations of the Association, no lad is permitted to enter the trade unless he put himself for a twelve-month under the direction of a skilled workman. Where these regulations are observed, as in the counties of Clackmannan, Fife, Mid- and East-Lothian, and in some parts of Ayrshire, a sensible diminution of accidents has followed. In Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Linlithgowshire, and a considerable part of Ayrshire, where these regulations cannot be enforced, accidents are more frequent.
With regard to the effect of the Association upon the moral character of the workmen, it is stated that no "picketing of pits" is allowed, nor are weekly "black lists" published, and that any warnings against individuals supposed to be hostile to the Association, that may be made at any public meeting, are not made with the sanction of the executive ; and generally that the tendency of the trades' association is more and more to adopt moral expedients, and so far from resorting to any form of physical force and intimidation, to repudiate it. The secretary of the Association would be the first person to give notice to the police, if he suspected that any overt act of violence was likely to take place, and he has frequent applications from the police, when at any time they are anxious to ascertain the accuracy of reports which may be afloat with respect to dangers of this description. Acts of violence during strikes have become much rarer of late; and in particular during the strike in 1856, when 30,000 men were out of employ, no one was imprisoned for violence or intimidation. The result of this moderation on the part of the men has shown itself in a corresponding feeling on the part of the masters, who as a rule, after a strike is over, bear no malice, and abstain from, what was formerly a common practice, the issuing of a warning to their neighbours not in future to employ those who had conducted or taken part in the strike.
Mr. Tremenheere, in speaking of the colliers four years ago, gives a very different account. He states that, in the strike of 1856, a new and serious feature presented itself, viz. the exercise of intimidation on a large scale, yet in such a manner as to escape the letter of the law. "In many instances," he says, "the tactics of the men on strike were to assemble suddenly in large numbers before some large colliery some miles distant from their own, at the time when the colliers were going to work, and placing themselves across their path, either to obstruct the way altogether, or to ask the men in a civil and friendly tone 'whether they were not going to attend the colliers' meeting on that day?' or some other equally simple question, in neither case using any actual violence, nor even menacing expressions." This "passive intimidation" was applied to prevent not only men who were ready to work at the reduced wages, but those who were working at the full wages demanded by the Union, and he attributes this conduct to the greater completeness of the organization of the men. He also speaks of the demoralization which is found to follow any considerable strike.
The special grievances of which miners complain are as follows :
1. The law of master and servant.
2. Ill education of children.
3. The absence of a fair system of weighing.
4. Ill ventilation of mines,
5. The improper carrying out of the clause in the Truck Act legalizing deductions from wages.
Miners express themselves dissatisfied that their obligation to their employer should be enforced by imprisonment, whilst his obligation to them is enforced only by damages, and too frequently the magistrate on the bench who decides these questions is himself a colliery owner.
Education, they think, should be made compulsory; children should not be entrusted with responsible duties unless they have attended school. Ignorant miners are found to be reckless and dangerous miners.
Miners are paid by piecework, so much for every tub of material they send up ; the tub to be of full weight and proper quality, otherwise the payment for it is either reduced, or forfeited altogether, according to the law of the particular colliery. In most collieries, the banksman, the servant of the coal-owner, who stands at the head of the pit, is sole judge of both weight and quality. It is easy to see how under such a system, however fairly carried out, dissatisfaction arises. The paper before me states "We may go down and put up what we believe to be a good day's work, and at the end not have a pennyworth of wage, the whole having been condemned in the view by the middleman (or banksman): this same material, so condemned, may be afterwards sold to the public, and the profit taken by our employer." On this subject the following paper has been brought under the attention of the House of Commons:
"MINES' INSPECTION BILL.
A FAIR SYSTEM OF WEIGHING.
The following statements, from a few of the best-regulated Collieries, show, as we think, the necessity of 'A Fair System of Weighing the Miners' Material' being made compulsory by Legislative Enactment, viz.—
WOMBWELL MAIN COLLIERY, YORKSHIRE.
A Correct Account of the Actual Weight of Coals got and sent out of the above Colliery by Six steady Working Colliers, in the Fortnight ending April 11th, 1860. Also, showing the Weight paid for, and the Loss to the Workmen, by the present system. These men send Twenty-one to the Score, and Twenty-one Hundredweight to the Ton.
Showing a loss to the above six working men, at the above colliery, to be in the aggregate 20 tons, 10 1/2 cwt., which, at 1s. 2d. per ton, amounts to £1 7s. 3d., or 4s. 6 1/2d. per man, for the fortnight.
"The following case of a colliery where the men forfeited, or had tubs condemned, is from Woodhall Colliery, in the county of Lanark. We may state that the undernoted is only a tithe of what might have been stated had the whole of the men been allowed to make a statement. The term used by the middleman or pithead man is, the hutch or tub is 'hanged'; and so it is, as the miner gets nothing for such hutches or tubs.
Peter Stevenson, miner, Woodhall, says-'On the 28th of March, 1850, two of my hutches were hanged.'
Hugh Blackburn says - 'On the 10th of March, two of my hutches were hanged.’
John Hume says-' On the 9th of March, I lost, or had hanged, six hutches (a whole day's work.)'
'From the 18th of February to the 18th of March,' says Colin Burne, ' I had six hutches hanged.'
'On the 9th of March,' says James Jarvie, 'I lost, or had hanged, two hutches.'
'On Monday, the 12th of March,' says William Hamilton, 'I had three hutches hanged.'
John Little says - 'During my last fourteen days' pay, I lost five hutches, and this one I am to lose four, or that is what is already hanged.'
John Stewart says - ' Three years ago, in this colliery, I lost, or had hanged, 14s. 6d. worth of coals in three weeks, and, because I said it was a shame, I was discharged.'
This evil admits of an obvious remedy : the weight can at all times be ascertained exactly, by the simple process of erecting a steelyard on the pithead, and weighing every hutch. This, states Mr. Tremenheere, is common in Fifeshire and the Lothians, and is practicable in all cases. The quality cannot be subjected to so sure a test, but in many collieries the miners are represented at the pithead by a man, whom they pay and whom they call their justice-man, and whose duty is to check the proceedings of the banksman. The petition to Parliament includes a prayer that this practice should be made imperative in all collieries.
Mr. Tremenheere refers to this grievance of the miners, but chiefly with a view to show that it is rather a fictitious than a real one. He gives instances of collieries where the judgment of the banksman has been found to be more lenient towards the men than the rigid accuracy of the scales. He states also that in nearly every case where they require it, the miners are allowed at their own expense to have a "justice-man:" but that they rarely continue one long in their employ, finding the institution a useless expense.
The miners also complain of the ill ventilation of their mines, and allege that this defect arises from two causes; one, the ignorance of the principles of ventilation on the part of those who manage the mines ; the other, the parsimony of the employers.
Another complaint is, that the deductions from their wages for medical attendance, sharpening of tools, schooling, &c., are not satisfactorily expended. The men have no control over the choice of the medical attendant, of the blacksmith, or the teacher, and sometimes persons incompetent and objectionable are appointed. This is especially the case with Roman Catholic miners. The master, a Protestant, appoints a Protestant teacher ; the men, if they wish to send their children to a Catholic school, have to pay over again. Further, the funds raised by the deductions from wages are not always properly accounted for. An instance is given (and like cases are stated to be not uncommon among the iron masters of Lanarkshire and Ayrshire), where these deductions for schooling amounted to £303, and the sums actually expended only to £115, the balance, £188, being appropriated by the firm.
The last, and chief complaint is the maintenance of the truck system. The representative of the Miners' Association states as follows :- "Of the mining counties in Scotland, there is in Clackmannan no truck shop; in Mid- and East-Lothian one; in Fifeshire three ; in Stirlingshire a few ; in Renfrewshire they are beginning to be established ; in Linlithgowshire there is a truck shop to nearly every colliery. The truck shops provide all articles of subsistence and clothing, with one exception, drink. The Truck Act renders it necessary for the masters to have a separate pay-office. But this office they take care shall be close to the truck shop, sometimes it is separated only by a partition. They pay the men at the long interval of a fortnight, or even of a month, and in the meantime allow them upon application subsistence money from day to day, or even on the half-day. This subsistence money, the miner is practically compelled, by penalties, to carry to the truck shop ; for if not, the subsistence allowance is stopped, and he must wait for his pay till the end of the fortnight or month ; or he is shifted to a less favourable part of the mine, or he is altogether dismissed. Dismissal has indeed become more common under the new system of employment, which has substituted for a contract of fourteen days, a contract terminable at a day's notice. To such an extent is truck carried, that even if the truck shop has not in store the articles required, the miner is not supplied with cash, which he might lay out where he would, but with tokens which certain shopkeepers in the town will recognise, and on receiving them supply articles, to the extent of the value of the tokens. These tokens however have afterwards to be returned by the shopkeepers to the truck shop to be exchanged into cash, and the rate of exchange is a deduction of 3s. in every 20s. in favour of the truck shop. This loss, amounting to 15 per cent., the shopkeeper has of course taken care has already fallen upon the miner." Single men are said to be able to escape this system, because they need less subsistence money, and can live the next month upon their savings of the present month ; but men with families are the victims ; in certain collieries, at dull periods of the year, many men are described as not seeing Her Majesty's coin of the realm for weeks together, and the Truck Act as altogether set aside.
It is further stated that the masters have a common fund to resist the action of the miners' Association, and especially to defend individual masters in all prosecutions for breaches of the Truck Act, or for other offences against the laws regulating the management of mines.
These prosecutions occur almost weekly in Scotland, and hitherto have aggravated the evil they are intended to diminish; for one effect of them is that the masters who own truck shops keep fewer hands to manage them, and this in practice produces demoralizing habits among the men. "Week after week," it is stated, " in all these large truck shops, you will find at one o'clock in the morning, at two, at three, and from that on, persons surrounding the shop door, the old worn-out stager, and the child of tender years, all huddling together, waiting till that store door opens ; for, to be served at all, it is necessary to take up one's turn at that early hour."
On the other hand, Mr. Tremenheere in his report of the state of the mines in 1856, says " the truck system has again been denounced by the delegates, and represented as a grievance ;"—language that leaves the impression that in his opinion there was not much real suffering arising therefrom. And generally his inquiries have led him to adopt views entirely opposed to those upheld by the Mining Association. "Questions of wages and any alleged grievance that may at the moment occupy the thoughts of the workpeople are," he writes, " always best settled by the workmen and their employers without the intervention of delegates or any other extraneous interference." And he gives the instance of the successful operation for thirty years of a society based on opposite principles, viz. the Govan Colliery Friendly and Free Labour Society, founded by Mr. Dixon in 1826, the rules of which every one of his colliers, in number (in 1856) 310, is required to subscribe. (Since this paper was written, information has been received that in the early part of the present year the operatives of the Govan Colliery Friendly and Free Labour Society struck. No particulars however have come to hand, but that an object of the strike was to procure the same rate of wages as that paid at a neighbouring colliery.)
A few particulars of this Society may here be given. The preamble of these rules states that " The workmen of Govan Colliery, deeply impressed with a sense of the evil effects of combination to restrict free labour, have resolved to form themselves into a friendly and free-labour society, for the purpose of supporting each other when visited by sickness or accident, and for their legal and individual interests." The third rule is, "that no collier or other person employed shall interfere in any manner of way with the employer's just right of employing, retaining, and discharging such workmen as may be considered proper, or with a workman's right of working and engaging to work in the way, upon the terms, and with whom he may think best for the interest of himself and family."
The Society, together with a funeral fund, and a school fund, subscription to which is compulsory, and a library and reading-room, is managed by a master court, consisting of a president, treasurer, clerk, and thirteen managers, of whom three are named by the owner of the colliery. The Society seems to be most successful, and the owner of the colliery liberal and considerate.
With regard to strikes, Mr. Tremenheere adopts the classification given him by the employers, that one-third of the miners are steady men opposed to strikes ; one-third, ignorant disorderly men who are always most ready to believe that they are unfairly dealt with by their employers, and to follow any extreme course that agitators and delegates may suggest; and the remaining third, men who are not dissatisfied with their employers, but who from want of moral courage allow themselves to be banded together by the delegates or leaders, and mixed up in every action of hostility against their masters, and in every transgression of the law, with the worst portion of their fellow-workmen. He contrasts the strikes in Lanarkshire and Ayrshire with the refusal of the miners in Fifeshire, Alloa, Clackmannan, and the Lothians to join in them, and assigns as the cause of the indisposition to strikes " the fact that society is older and more settled in the latter named districts than in the former, that the proportion of ignorant and turbulent characters is less, that a large number of the collieries are or have been worked by the proprietors themselves, who have looked more closely into everything which affects the condition, or influences the feelings of the workpeople, and placed these matters upon a more satisfactory footing."
Mr. Tremenheere also has no doubt upon which side the rights of these disputed questions lie. Of the masters he says, "Notwithstanding the language in which interested men, who assume to speak for their class as delegates, indulge in regard to the employers generally in that part of the country, there are among these employers, as I willingly testify from having been conversant with these districts for upwards of thirteen years, gentlemen who have as accurate a knowledge of the real condition and feelings of the workmen, and as sincere a desire to deal justly by them, and to benefit them, as are to be found in any part of the kingdom." And again : " I am aware that it is only with much caution and reservation that it can be becoming in me to offer any suggestion to gentlemen of the ability, experience, and good intentions of those who preside over the great industrial establishments in question." And of the leaders of the Association he writes, " Unfortunately, as matters have hitherto been, the moment these questions arise they are seized upon by delegates or agitators, who are neither the best disposed, the most temperate, nor the most enlightened of the class to which they belong, and whose direct interest it is to aggravate every existing cause of dispute, and to bring forward as many others as can be made available." And again he says that " the masters very naturally refuse to submit their case to the kind of men usually acting as delegates:" and he speaks of "a delivery of the well-disposed and the intelligent among the workmen from the thraldom so often imposed upon them, against their better judgments, by the ignorant, the rash, and the malevolent;" and of the present Miners' Association, then about to be established, as " an organization among a certain class of the men under the guidance of their delegates, which will be fruitful in future strikes." And after quoting at length the four first rules of the Association, which in substance have been given above, he closes his report in the following words :-
Without attempting to balance the evidence of the representative of the Scottish Miners' Association against the official report of the Commissioner, the following reasons are submitted why the report of Mr. Tremenheere may not be considered as finally disposing of these questions.
Judging from the Report itself, his opinion not only agrees with that of the masters, but is expressly stated to be based upon information derived from them, and apparently from them alone, Nowhere is any evidence, coming from the other side, the miners, quoted or even referred to. I have no evidence before me, except the answers given in behalf of the Miners' Association, to make me believe that Mr. Tremenheere's opinion as to the interested and inflammatory conduct of the delegates is otherwise than correct. But in a case like this, dealt with by a commissioner speaking with authority, it would be more satisfactory if charges of this nature, which in almost every trade are made by the masters, and in so many trades have turned out to be baseless, were not repeated in general terms, but substantiated by some evidence, either as to the profits actually made by delegates out of strikes, or as to particular instances of ascertained misconduct. A single point however may be alluded to: Mr. Tremenheere points out one very serious consequence which immediately arises from a combination organized by delegates, viz., that the question of wages is generalized for the whole district: whereas it is essentially a question for each individual master to determine according to existing circumstances. " A low rate of royalties and easy working of his minerals, facilities of communication, judgment in the original arrangement of his works, and favourable contracts, may make it the interest of one master to give a rate of wages which at the time might be ruinous to another. All these individual differences disappear the moment these questions get into the hands of paid delegates." It is possible that this may be the case with paid delegates in Scotland, but it is not, as would be the inference from this paper, necessarily so: it is not so in England, as appears from the following extract from a letter dated February 22nd, 1860, addressed by the secretary on behalf of the Stainsbro' coal miners, to a proprietor whose men were then on strike.
" You say that you pay up to Messrs. C. or Mrs. C., and we say that you do not pay up to P., so one argument is as good as another. The prices at one colliery won't do at every other colliery ; to assimilate prices is, of course, impossible, else we should, of course, insist that P.'s prices were paid to us, but we have not asked for them, and considering the difficulties that there are to contend with at your works that do not exist at Messrs. C.'s collieries, if you give us the advance we shall only be paid up to them."
But further, even if all the charges against the delegates were fully proved, the inference might well be, not that trades' unions were altogether hurtful, but that having been misguided, they should seek for better leaders. Bad leaders are not always the sign of a bad cause. In like manner, the instance cited by Mr. Tremenheere, of the success of a society based on principles the opposite of those pursued by trades' unions (a society, by the way, consisting of no more than 380 members) does not prove that trades' unions are wrong in principle. For it is not disputed that without any society at all, whether a trade union or a society like the Govan Colliery Friendly and Free Labour Society, all masters could, and some individual masters would, deal fairly and satisfactorily with their men. The question is whether coal and iron masters as a class may be taken to be of the same liberal and trustworthy character as Mr. Dixon, or whether in the majority of cases trades' unions are required to keep masters in check ? Lastly, the allegations made by the miners, if false, admit of disproof. At first sight they do not seem to be without some foundation. As to truck, one of the tokens, such as are said to be used to carry on the system in its worst phase, was produced at a meeting of the trades' committee of this society in London; and as to the necessity of a fair system of weighing, if it be true, as stated by Mr. Tremenheere, that "in nearly every instance" where the men require a justice-man to be placed at the head of the pit at their own expense, this " reasonable concession" is granted, it is rather remarkable that the 8000 miners belonging to the Scottish Miners' Association, as well as other miners both in England and Ireland, should think it worthwhile to request Parliament to make this "concession" imperative.
Abstract of the Minutes of Evidence taken before a select committee of the House of Commons appointed in 1825, to inquire into the effects of the repeal of the Combination Laws on the conduct of workmen and others in different parts of the United Kingdom. Prepared for the National Association for the promotion of Social Science, at the request of the Committee on Trades’ Societies by Frank H Hill.
[Examined:—Two Coalowners; two Working Colliers; and the Procurator-Fiscal of the Eastern District of Stirling.]
The colliery districts of the west of Scotland appear to have been honourably distinguished from those in other parts of the kingdom, by the abstinence of the men from violence or intimidation during their strikes. Nor did the masters attempt to bring their disputes with their workmen to a close by taking legal proceedings against them. This apparent forbearance seems to have been due to the very general belief—which was entertained until a contrary decision of the Court of Justiciary—that the operation of the Combination Laws did not extend to Scotland.
In the case of a strike, the masters met the turn-out of the men by sending ordinary labourers down into the pits. This was done by Mr. Taylor, in Ayrshire, in 1817. No attempt was made to interfere with the new men working; and when the old hands came in again, such of the new ones as chose to remain were suffered to do so. Strikes, however, seem not to have been (between 1807-25) the means generally taken to secure a rise of wages. More frequently the colliers adopted the plan of "continuing to work, and endeavouring in every possible way to thwart the masters," as by " doing only half work, or for days declining to raise coal altogether," thus limiting the supply when he had a demand.
Associations of workmen of the Ayrshire Collieries were formed in 1817, and in 1824. This strike, undertaken at the bidding of the former, which was defeated by the introduction of new men, in the place of the turn-outs. In consequence, the principal objects of the second combination were, together with increase of wages and rectification of the measure, to exclude "people who were not colliers before but labourers " from entering the pits,—to effect which, the rule was adopted, that "no neutral man" (that is, no man whose father was not a collier) above the age of twenty years could engage to be a collier without paying £7 in hand. Still, if the master insisted in putting him in he would be allowed to work; "but," says another witness, "we would not learn them, if they did not pay our apprentice fee. It is admitted on behalf of the employers, that apart from this regulation, of the enforcement of which only one instance was adduced, the association did not interfere with the apprentices whom the master chose to take; though they objected to the introduction of other men from another colliery, unless they settled with the men of the colliery to which they came; that is, paid them some money. Over-men were not called on to become members of the association, nor were the superintendents of work ever interfered with.
With the exceptions above noted, the Association did not meddle with a master for employing any one whom he pleased, whether or not a member of the Association, at any wages he might think fit. Members of the Association were at liberty to work for reduced wages, though if they left their employment in consequence of such reduction, they would be supported by the Association for a fortnight, or until they found work. The Association does not appear to have had funds permanently in hand, money having been levied only to meet an emergency. Hence, no members seem to have been struck off for refusing to pay, or being in arrears ; nor were they in any way molested. The operative witnesses examined before the Committee deny that combination was in any way of a secret character, there being no private bye-laws or oaths, or other rules than those which appeared in the printed regulations of the society. Anybody might attend its meetings, though none but members did so. An opposite impression on the part of the masters seems to have arisen, from their confounding it with a distinct body, "the Brotherhood of the Colliery," which had nothing to do with strikes, or with the support of strikes.
Several masters determining not to employ members of the Association, and the masters generally agreeing not to employ men from other collieries who did not bring certificates of good conduct and of a discharge, men were induced to come in, and received on their renunciation of the Association.
During the strike, there was little violence, according to the masters ; none at all, " not an angry word," according to the men.
Extracted from "Trades' societies and strikes - Report of the Committee on Trades Societies, Appointed by the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science. Presented at the 4th Annual Meeting of the Association at Glasgow, September 1860"