Miscellaneous Cambusnethan Articles

August 1867

Wishaw – Ejectment of miners - The sheriff-officers were busy on Tuesday morning clearing out the houses of Messrs Scott and Gilmour's men at Rumblingsykes. No respect of persons was shown ; every one was turned out that was not working, their goods and chattels being left on the roadside. [Hamilton Advertiser August 10 1867]

20 May 1869

Meeting of Miners At Wishaw - Agitation for Increase of Wages - A meeting of the miners in the Middle Ward, to the number of between two and three hundred, was held at Shield Muir, near Wishaw, yesterday. Two chairmen were appointed, and from their introductory remarks it appeared that within the past few weeks the men employed in the four districts of the Middle Ward have been taking measures for an advance of one shilling a day upon their wages, but that, only in some cases, and to the extent of sixpence, has an increase been granted, The present meeting had been convened with the view of devising measures to make the advance general, and to raise it to the desired amount.

Reports from the districts were given in. In the Larkhall district, it was stated, all the employers had given an advance of sixpence, with the exception of four, whose final answer was expected that day; in the works where the advance had not been given the men were on strike, and were being supported by their brethren in the other works. In the Hamilton district the men were all working on the advance, and restricting their labour to eight hours a day. In the Motherwell district Watson's work had got the extra sixpence, Summerlee had never been broken, M'Brady's men were expecting the advance on Monday next, and the other works had no prospect of an advance. In the Wishaw district some of those employed at the soft coal had got the sixpence, but the majority of the men were working at the old rate, or were on strike for the advance, These reports having been received and commented upon, to the effect that they were not very satisfactory, and proved the necessity for immediate and determined action.

Mr Alexander M'Donald, Miners' Secretary, addressed the meeting. He began by calling attention to the Mines Regulation Bill now before Parliament, the provisions of which, he held, were likely to be most injurious to the interests of working miners. The bill left the matter of the inspection of ironstone mines exactly where it was before. It proposed to allow boys between twelve and sixteen years of age to work twelve hours a day, so that in an educational point of view, as well as in the matter of health, it was most defective and even pernicious; its scheme for the weighing of the miners' coal was unworkable, inasmuch as it provided that the inspectors should have due regard for existing weights and measures, while the fact was that not three per cent, of the weights used at Scotch coal mines were capable of being tested. One of its clauses as to the observance of rules was so general that it left the workman's conduct entirely to the interpretation of the manager, and so left room for a very oppressive tyranny ; it did not remedy the old grievances of men not knowing how the money they contributed to sick funds, &c., was applied, and the payments to teachers by Roman Catholics; and it continued the anomaly of an offending employer being liable simply to fine, while an offending workmen might be sent to prison, Unless these objections were remedied the bill would be a curse to the miners, instead of a benefit. Amendments had been prepared, and would be pressed on the Legislature, and these amendments, which were to the effect his remarks had suggested, the meeting would be asked to approve of. Another important measure was occupying the attention of the Parliament, viz., the Trades' Unions Bill, and as it proposed to do away with the combination laws, and to give protection to workmen's funds, he thought it should be cordially supported. Proceeding to speak on the question of an advance of wages, Mr M'Donald said it was satisfactory to see that the movement had begun, and had already produced results. He believed that one cause of the partial success which had been so soon attained lay in the circumstance that within the last four or five months no fewer than 3000 of their number had emigrated to America, and that labourers, in consequence, were becoming scarce. He had no fear that they would get what they wanted if they only stuck together and agitated, not their own district only, but the whole of Scotland. To do this they must raise funds, first for the expenses of agitation; and second, for the purpose of promoting emigration to a much greater extent than had hitherto been the case amongst them.

Mr Thos. Smith, miners' agent, Wishaw, addressed the meeting to much the same effect.
Resolutions were then proposed and unanimously approved of, to the effect (1) that the meeting should adjourn until Monday next, when, if the 6d advance was not general in the district, the employers who refused it, or some of their number, should be "hung up" for an advance of not less than a shilling; (2) that the amendments on the Mines. Regulation Bill suggested, by Mr M'Donald were necessary to make the measure a beneficial one, and that the Home Secretary should be memorialised to that effect; (3) that the meeting approved of the Trades' Unions Bill of Messrs Hughes and Mundella; (4) that agitation for increased wages should be made general over all the mining districts in Scotland ; and (5) that the meeting recommended restriction of labour to eight hours per day.

It was stated at the close of the proceedings that a miner named John Dunn had been arrested and lodged in Hamilton Prison on a charge of sending a threatening letter to Mr Wood, the manager of the Wishaw Iron Company. A dispute had arisen as to the weighing of coal, and in the alleged threatening letter the writer had stated that he had heard some men say they would "fling the pitheadsman down the pit if such conduct was persisted in." It was resolved to assist Dunn in the way of getting proper legal assistance for his defence. The meeting then separated. [Glasgow Herald 21 May 1869]