Strikes and Court Cases

June 1859

The Strike At Oakley - The colliers and miners in connection with the Forth Iron Works are still out on strike owing to their wages having been reduced sixpence per day. At the close of last week a deputation from the men had a conference with the manager, Mr. Ferrie, to see whether some agreement could not be come to. Mr. Ferrie accordingly gave the colliers to understand that if they chose to begin work they would receive their old prices. Some of the men, contrary to the general voice of the meeting, agreed to the terms proposed. On Monday last, a few of the colliers proceeded to their work, and have been working ever since, threatened, however, with some intimidation, the disaffected resolving neither to work themselves, nor let others do so who are willing. At a meeting held by the men, on Wednesday last, some party said there was to be a night shift at the "Brashing," and the men were led to understand that some other threatening language was employed in regard to those who were working. On the morning of Thursday, about one o'clock, one of the 'blacknebs" as they are called, was startled out of his slumbers by a brick being thrown through the window of his dwelling. The perpetrator of the cowardly action is not yet known, but probably he may be found out, as the police are making investigation.—Alloa Advertiser. [Glasgow Herald June 6, 1859]

9 January 1913

A Fife Pit Fireman's Offence - At Dunfermline Sheriff Court yesterday, Thomas Rattray, fireman High Valleyfield, was convicted of a contravention of the Coal Mines Regulation Act and the Special Rules. The Procurator-Fiscal said he was glad to mention that this was a very uncommon complaint, First of all, there was neglect on the part of the fireman to make his official inspection in a fiery mine, and then he signed a record book to the effect that inspection had been made, and that everything had been found safe, whereas, as a matter of fact, when the miners went down, a place was found to be full of inflammable gas and it took an hour and a half to get the gas cleared out. Sheriff Umpherston imposed a fine of £3, with the option of twenty-one- days' imprisonment. [Scotsman 10 January 1913]

4 April 1921

Fife Pit Disturbance - Imprisonment For A Miner - The second part of the trial of Henry Scott, miner, Leven, charged with contravention of the Emergency Powers Act, 1921, on 4th April, at Leven Colliery, was heard yesterday at Cupar Sheriff Court before Sheriff Dudley Stuart. About a month ago evidence for the prosecution was heard but evidence for the defence was adjourned because one of the witnesses, a reservist, had been called up, and time was required to get into touch with him. Accused still adhered to his plea of not guilty. After the witnesses had been heard the Sheriff said he would accept the evidence which had been given by the police as truthful in intention and also in fact. He thought the witnesses for the defence were mistaken. Powers of observation were not always to be trusted. He would accordingly convict accused. In dealing with the matter of punishment, he found it was not possible to distinguish between the case of one who incited others and one who committed the damage actually with his own hands. Accused would go to prison or two months. [Scotsman 4 May 1921]

23 September 1926

Picketing In Fife - Pit Workers Sentenced - A sequel to a picketing incident at Townhill, Dunfermline, was heard in the Dunfermline Sheriff Court yesterday. James Robertson Sutherland, checkweighman, Wilson Street, and Gabriel Alexander Carr, pit machineman, Dundas Street, Townhill, were convicted under the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act of having, along with a large number of other persons, behaved in a disorderly manner, and followed a couple of miners with a view to compelling them to abstain from working in the Lochside coal and fireclay mine, Townhill, and thus intimidated them. It was stated in evidence that the accused led the crowd, which indulged in booing, hissing, and singing. Asked by the Procurator-Fiscal,what business it was of his if two men chose to do an honest day's work, Sutherland replied that they were fighting an industrial battle, and they disapproved in a quiet manner and according to law of men breaking away from the ranks of the workers. “And you choose to go about idle, living on charity,” observed the Procurator-Fiscal. Accused denied that he was living on charity, and asserted that he would work if he got a living wage. Sheriff Umpherston passed sentence in each case of twenty-one days' imprisonment. [Scotsman 24 September 1926]

19 August 1927

Twelve Months For Miner - Fife Pit Manager Attacked - Sentence of twelve months imprisonment was imposed at Dunfermline Sheriff Court yesterday on David Chapman, described as a prisoner at Dunfermline, who pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with assault upon John Monaghan, colliery manager, New Middleton, Kelty. The charge was that on 5th August, at the vacant piece of ground between the engine-house and the stair leading to the pithead at No. 11 pit, Lumphinnans Colliery, of the Fife Coal Company (Ltd.), accused assaulted Monaghan by striking him on the head with an iron bolt weighing 3 1/2 lb., and knocked him down, and while Monaghan lay on the ground he threw the iron bolt at him, which struck him on the mouth, all to the effusion of blood and serious injury of his person. The Procurator-Fiscal explained that, as a result of the shaft at the pit having been wrecked, the workers were thrown idle, but that it was necessary to keep one ostler on duty for the ponies. The manager kept on the day-shift ostler, and accused, being the night-shift ostler, was suspended. On the afternoon of 5th August accused came to the manager's office, and in conversation expressed his annoyance that he could not be re-started until the 7th. He left the office, and the manager followed shortly after. When the manager was walking toward the stair leading to the pithead, accused rushed after him and struck him from behind with the iron bolt on the head. The manager fell to the ground, and was again struck by accused with the bolt. Two other workers came to the manager's assistance, but accused shook himself free from them, and threw the bolt at the manager, striking him on the mouth. Then he said to the manager, "You can thank God these two men were here, because I would have done you in." Turning to the two workers, he remarked, "Thank God you're here, for I would have killed him." Monaghan's injuries consisted of a cut an inch long on the top of the head, a lacerated wound behind the left ear, and a cut at the left side of the mouth. An agent stated that accused, who was 53 years of age, had served at Gallipoli during the war and had contracted rheumatic fever. Since his discharge he had been under doctor's orders on several occasions, owing to pains in the head. Previously these pains had never caused him to become violent, but they had caused him on many occasions to become extremely nervous and excited. Sheriff Fenton, passing sentence, said that the accused had pleaded guilty to a very serious assault. Striking a man on the head with a bolt of the weight described in the charge might well have landed the striker in Court under a different charge from this. Looking at the fact that this apparently was a deliberate assault, he could not pronounce any sentence less than one of twelve months' imprisonment. [Scotsman 20 August 1927]