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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 12

First Conference

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First Conference.

On the afternoon of Friday, the 16th February, a Conference connected with the Engineering trade, for the purpose of considering proposals made by the workmen for the reduction of the hours of labour to 51 per week, and for other purposes contained in a Circular hereinafter introduced, was held in the Religious Institution Rooms, Glasgow. The parties to the Conference were the following gentlemen, representing the Clyde Shipbuilders' and Engineers' Association:—
  • Messrs J. F. Ure (John Elder & Co),
  • Messrs B. Connor (Caledonian Railway),
  • Anthony Inglis (Messrs A. & J. Inglis),
  • Peter Denny, Dumbarton; with
  • R. Steel, Greenock,
  • J. P. Smith as Secretary.
  • Bailie Hamilton (Barclay, Curie, & Co.),
and a Delegation representing the West of Scotland Iron Trades' Short-Time League, consisting of the following gentlemen:—
  • Messrs Thomas Turnbull, President;
  • Messrs James Alison, Finisher;
  • John Barrowman, Vice-President;
  • John Marshall, Fitter;
  • John Simpson, Boilermaker;
  • Hugh Watson, Fitter;
  • John Crichton, Smith;
  • Thomas R. Elrick, Secretary.

Mr J. F. Ure was called to the chair, and, in opening the proceedings, said the representatives of the Masters' Association were happy to meet the representatives of the workmen. He trusted that the interchange of their respective views would lead to a friendly solution of the question at issue. The employers, he added, hoped that a meeting of this kind, conducted in a friendly way, and leaving no unpleasant feelings behind, would tend in the future to draw them closer together, and enable them to understand each other's interests better than hitherto.

Mr Smith stated that the employers now present had been appointed a committee to confer with the workmen at a largely attended meeting of employers held in the Religious Institution Rooms on the 25th January, and he would now read over the names of the employers who were present at that meeting, to show the authority by which the gentlemen present had been empowered to act. The names were as follows:—
  • J. L. K. Jamieson (of John Elder & Co).
  • Edwd. Blackmore (of Rankine & Blackmore).
  • J. D. Napier (of R. Napier & Sons).
  • H. Muir.
  • Barclay, Curle, & Co.
  • J. Walker (of Walker, Henderson, & Co).
  • Alston & Gourlay.
  • Raeburn & Simm.
  • David Davidson.
  • D. M 'Pherson.
  • William Boyd.
  • James Howden & Co.
  • Benjamin Conner.
  • James Stirling.
  • David Laidlaw.
  • David Rowan.
  • J. G. Lawrie.
  • James & George Thomson.
  • A. & W. Smith & Co.
  • John F. Ure (of John Elder & Co).
  • Paterson Wingate (of Thos. Wingate & Co).
  • John Norman (of John Norman & Co.)
  • Thos. Blackwood (of Blackwood & Gordon).
  • Walter Brock (of Denny & Co).
  • Wm. Pearce (of John Elder & Co).
  • W. Simons (of W. Simons & Co).
  • Chas. Connell (of C. Connell & Co).
  • James M. Blair.
  • A. Steven (of A. & P. Steven).
  • John Turnbull.
  • Wm. Forrest (of Forrest & Barr).
  • C. Cairns (of Moses Cairns & Co).
  • J. C. Bunten (of Anderston Foundry Co).
  • C. R. Lawson (of John Lawson, Son, & Co).
  • J. M'Millan (of Archd. M'Millan & Son).
  • Walter M' Lellan.
  • R. G. Ross (of Glen & Ross).
  • D. C. Glen (of Glen &, Ross).
  • Jno. M. Rowan.
  • G. Bowser.
  • Christie & Smith.
  • John Reid & Co.
  • George Bennie & Co.
  • Smith, Brothers, & Co.
  • J. & A. Law.
  • Watson, Gow, & Co.
  • H. Kelly (of L. & G. Shipbuilding Co).
  • Wm. Denny & Brothers.
  • Anthony Inglis (of A. & J. Inglis).
  • John Thomson (of J. & J. Thomson).
  • James M. Thomson (of J. & J. Thomson).
  • R. Duncan (of A. Chaplin & Co).
  • G. Harvey (of G. & A. Harvey).
  • Andrew M'Onie (of W. & A. M'Onie).page 5
  • Ebenezer Kemp (of A. Stephen & Sons).
  • H. Cameron (of D. Cameron & Co).
  • Jag. L. Cunliff (of Cunliff & Dunlop).
  • Robert Duncan (of Robert Duncan & Co.)
  • John Napier,
  • Robert Steele, jun.
  • Robert Curie (of Barclay, Curie, & Co).
  • Wm. Young (of J. & T. Young).
  • Alex. Fullarton (of Craig, Fullarton, & Co).
  • Arehd. Gilchrist (of Barclay, Curie, & Co).
  • John Inglis (of A. & J. Inglis).
  • Henderson, Coulborne, & Co.

Mr Smith then asked the Secretary of the League to state how the delegates present on the part of the workmen had been appointed.

Mr Elrick read over the following list of workshops that had sent delegates to attend a representative meeting at which the League was constituted:—
  • Vulcan Tube Works.
  • David Rowan's.
  • John Elder & Co.'s Boiler Works.
  • Napier's, Hyde Park Street.
  • John Yule's.
  • Phoenix Foundry.
  • White's.
  • Finnieston.
  • Laidlaw's.
  • Cowlairs N.—British Railway Engine Works.
  • St Rollox Engine Works.
  • Wingate & Co.'s.
  • J. & G. Thomson's, Clydebank.
  • J. & J. Thomson s.
  • Nelson's, Springburn.
  • Wilson's, Eagle Lane.
  • John Elder & Co., Centre Street.
  • Anchor Line.
  • Addison, Hamilton & Co.
  • Barclay, Curie & Co.
  • Saracen Foundry.
  • Young's, Sword Street.
  • Robison's, Stanley Street.
  • A. & W. Smith's, Dale Street, Tradeston.
  • J. & A. Harvey, M'Neil Street.
  • London & Glasgow Limited Co.
  • Iron Moulders' Society.
  • Stewart, Losidon Road.
  • Jas. Howden & Co.'s.
  • Mirrlees, Tait & Watson's.
  • Clutha Iron Works.
  • J. Mitchell & Co.
  • Dubs' Locomotive Works.
  • Canal Basin Foundry.
  • Norman & Co.
  • Smith Brothers.
  • Clarkson Brothers.
  • Robert Napier's.
  • King's, Kinning Dock.
  • William King's, Paisley Road, &c., &c.

Mr Simpson said—The representatives of the workmen at this meeting were elected at a meeting of the delegates from the different shops, held in the Painters' Hall on the 3d February. The workmen held a meeting, and took into consideration the agitation going on throughout the country for short time. Several resolutions were laid before the meeting. Previous to any active steps being taken in forming a Short-Time League, meetings were held in the different shops, from which delegates were appointed, who formed the League.

The Chairman—Was that the meeting in the Painters' Hall on the 3d February?

Bailie Hamilton—Do you know how the delegates from the different works were appointed?

Mr Simpson—Previous to the formation of the Short-Time League, numbers of the shops throughout the city generally had taken up the question of short time spontaneously. Committees were formed, which were empowered to co-operate with other workshops to form some sort of League. The different committees communicated with each other——

Bailie Hamilton—The point I wish to get at is, if those individuals who appointed the delegates were really elected at all in the shops. I can quite imagine individuals going to the delegate meeting without being appointed and empowered for the purpose at all.

Mr Watson—They were all appointed from the shops. At the commencement of the movement, considerable delay was caused by our being unable to obtain halls throughout the city. I could not tell where the movement really originated, but these delegates were appointed in a proper manner, and were really and truly representative.

Bailie Hamilton—I find that the carpenters have had nothing to do with this short time movement at all; and from what they tell us, we are also led to believe that the rivetters are not concerned in it. I find from a report in a local paper that different trades that have nothing to do with the iron and shipbuilding trades took part in the meeting in the City Hall.

Mr Watson—When once the committees were formed, they asked the members of the Trades' Council to give them their countenance, and they also asked their page 6 Chairman to preside at the meeting in the City Hall. The Trades' Council is composed of all the trades in the city.

Mr Simpson—At the meeting in the City Hall, members of other trades that sympathised with us were present.

Mr Denny—Of what trades is the Short-Time League composed?

Mr Simpson—It is composed of the different branches of engineering.

Mr Watson—Those working broken time do not ask for a reduction in the hours of labour—that is, these not working under cover the same as engineers. They considered it was perhaps too great a stretch to ask this, because they were sometimes prevented from working 51 hours as it is.

The Chairman—Your League is said to embrace the different works in Glasgow-and the West of Scotland. How far do you consider the West of Scotland to extend?

Mr Turnbull—We have connection with Greenock, and with the whole of the towns on the Clyde side; but we have also connection, in a more indirect way, with the whole of Scotland.

Mr Steele—I have been told that the Greenock men repudiate any connection with the League.

Mr Watson—I had communication with them, and have reason to know that they entirely sympathise with our movement. To make the matter plain, I may state that this League has connection with all other associations of working men throughout the country.

Mr Simpson—The gentlemen present may have seen a report in the Herald of a meeting held at Greenock, at which it was unanimously resolved to go in with the League.

The Chairman—I was going to ask whether you were an independent society, or had any connection with the Associated Society of Engineers?

Mr Barrowman—In reply to that question, I may state that I am not a member of any trades' union whatever, and never was; yet I am a member of this League, and a most active one. I think that will be satisfactory.

Mr Simpson—I may also state that I am not a member of any trades' union.

Bailie Hamilton—I don't know if it is important; but I notice that at the delegate meeting there were delegates from Dubs' Works and from the works of the Caledonian Railway Company. Now, is it not a fact that at these works the men agreed to accept the 54 hours? How do you account for that?

Mr Watson—As I belong to the Caledonian Works, perhaps I may be allowed to answer that question. The agitation in the Caledonian Railway workshops was started previous to this agitation altogether. Mr Connor said to us distinctly that lie could not grant us 5L hours, but he would have no objection to grant fifty-four. Several questions arose, and he said that, as a company, they could not take the lead in the matter. The men would get 54 hours in the meantime, and the 51 hours would be left an open question.

Mr Connor—I agree with that statement. The men first asked me to present a memorial to the Board of Directors asking for a reduction of the hours to fifty-one. I told them that I would present it to the Board if it was their desire, but that, at the same time, I should feel it to be my duty to give it my opposition. After I made this representation, the memorial was taken back, and altered to 54 hours. The Directors granted the 54 hours, and there the matter stands for the present, but I do not look upon it as a settled question. I reckon that there are-more men in our workshops, a very great many, in favour of the 54 than there are in favour of the 51 hours.

Mr Marshall—Cowlairs workshops are in the same position as stated by Mr Watson. When the other shops in the town get the 51 hours, they will get the same. We have now gone with the League to demand what the other trades do.

Bailie Hamilton—Then you can have no objection if all the men in all our workshops do the same—that is, go in on the 54 hours, and get the 51 at the time it becomes general?

Mr Marshall—You must remember that there is a very large majority of the .men in favour of the 51 hours, and prepared to make a stand for it at any time.

page 7

Mr Turnbull—Dubs' shop have accepted the 54 hours. They asked nothing, but left it to himself, because they knew that he would give whatever the rest of the trade obtained. They just asked a reduction of the hours, and he offered fifty-four. They are convinced he will give the fifty-one at the proper time.

Mr Steele—No thanks to him, then; for by that time he could not resist.

Mr Barrowman—I object to this system of cross-questioning. I think it has gone far enough.

The Chairman—All the gentlemen present wish, I am sure, is, that the question be put clearly before them.

Mr Simpson—I heard the report of the representatives of the Caledonian Works, and they stated that Mr Connor said the Railway Company would not do to take the lead in this matter; but if the masters in the other shops granted the request of the workmen they would get it also.

Mr Connor—I said the 51 hours could not be granted, and I said there was no use for a memorial, because the 54 hours would be granted in March. And then, J said that whatever time was fixed in Glasgow the Railway Company would have to grant it, but the Railway Company could not take the lead in the matter.

The Chairman—Mr Napier, one of our number, is absent in London, but he has sent a letter of apology, which the Secretary will read to the meeting.

Mr Smith then read the letter, which was as follows:—

5 Montague Place, London, 15th February, 1872.

Dear Sir,

Yours of 13th inst. duly received, and in reply I beg to state that I am very sorry it will be out of my power to be with you to morrow to attend the conference with the workmen. I came here on Monday at the pressing desire of the Turkish authorities to look over drawings and scroll contract for an armour-clad frigate, the preliminaries and price of which I had arranged when at Constantinople last autumn. There is a difficulty in concluding the contract, as the extra price we are now compelled to ask, owing to the great rise in materials and wages, is so very much that I am exceedingly afraid this change in price will stop the order altogether, and so deprive Glasgow of at least half a million of Turkish money that would for certain, but for the great rise in materials and wages, have been spent here. As I have again to see the authorities on the subject of this armour-clad and try to bring matters nearer to a point, I cannot well leave this for a day or two yet. I hope, therefore, you will explain to the workmen, and to Mr Jamieson, Mr Denny. &c., the cause of my unavoidable absence. In regard to the 51 hours movement, I am decidedly opposed to it. as being bad for both men and masters, as I think it will defeat the object its promoters have in view; and with me it is very questionable whether the change from 57 to 54 is not also bad; and for certain 51 hours should not, in my opinion, be given into till some years' experience is had of the 54. Hoping that the conference to-morrow will have a good and friendly result,

I am, Sir, yours sincerely,

John Napier.

The Chairman said the first thing to be taken up was the circular addressed to the masters by the League.

The circular referred to was as follows:—

West of Scotland Iron Trades' Short-Time League, Engineers' Committee Rooms, 182 Trongate, January 20, 1872.


It seems evident that, to the majority of Employers in the Iron Traces of Glasgow, the necessity for having the hours of labour reduced is already an acknowledged fact, since it is observable, in many instances, notices have been posted on the gates of certain workshops intimating the possibility of a reduction being conceded to the extent of three hours per week on 1st March without solicitation. The question has also occupied the attention of the employees of the iron trades (your workmen included), who have given it careful consideration, viewing it in its various aspects, and who believe, as the ultimate result of their deliberations, that every step in the direction of a reduction of the working hours to the limit where in a workman can continue in active employment without injury to his mental and physical can-stitution, is the surest and speediest way to secure a better understanding between employers and employed, seeing it will contribute to the advantage of both parties. But while we, your workmen, in common with the whole of the iron trades, agree in the opinion of these employers, in so far as we have conjectured it, we are further of opinion that the present state of circumstances warrant us in expecting a greater reduction than that already alluded to, as page 8 well as other rectifications that are much needed. Therefore, we respectfully request you to consider the following resolutions, as passed in an aggregate meeting of the trades, in City Hall, on Friday, 12th January:—

1st. That, in the opinion of this meeting of the iron trades of Glasgow, the immense increase of scientific power and labour-saving machinery, justifies us in seeking to participate in their advantages by the reduction of our hours of labour. We therefore solicit our employers to consider the propriety of reducing them to 51 hours per week, and that in future the wages be rated by the hour, with an advance on the present rate sufficient to compensate the deficiency caused by the reduction in time.

2d. That we decidedly object to the injurious practice of systematic overtime, and wish if abolished altogether; but in cases of emergency, where it is really requisite, we agree to work it if paid at the rate of time-and-half after the regular working hours, with a penny per hour of allowance—holidays to be reckoned as overtime.

3d. That this meeting approves of the system of weekly payments as being a great advantage to working men, and resolves to solicit its adoption in future instead of the fortnightly system as heretofore.

In forwarding these propositions for your consideration, we deem it unnecessary to enter into details to explain our position, seeing that so much attention and discussion has been given on it for months past.. Expecting an answer in reply on or before 1st February, 1872,

We are, Sir, in name of Executive of the League, your obedient Servants,

Thomas Turnbull

, President.

Thomas R. Elrick

, Secretary.

The Chairman—You will see there are three propositions brought specially before our consideration, and I think we had better consider them one by one. We should be glad to hear anything that any of you gentlemen representing the workmen have to say in support of the first proposition.

Mr Barrowman—Would it not be better if you would point out the various items to which you object, and we will consider them, and leave out the other matter?

Mr Denny—I think Mr Smith's answer said we objected to the 51 hours.

Mr Simpson—I think Mr Smith's reply should be read now.

Mr Elrick then read Mr Smith's reply, which is submitted, along with the correspondence that followed:—

Clyde Shipbuilders' and Engineers' Association 67 Renfield Street Glasgow, 20th Jan., 1872. To the Secretary and Treasurer of the West of Scotland Iron Trades' Short-Time League.


In reply to your circular, dated the 20th inst., addressed to employers in Glasgow and neighbourhood, I have to inform you that at a large meeting of employers in Glasgow, Renfrew, Port-Glasgow, Greenock, and Dumbarton, held in the Religious Institution Rooms yesterday, your circular was under consideration, and the unanimous opinion was, that seeing the employers have recently voluntarily made a reduction of the hours of labour to 54 hours per week, the request contained in your circular for a still further reduction to 51 hours per week, is, in the present circumstances, unreasonable, and Mr John Napier, Lance-field Street; Mr Peter Denny, Dumbarton; Mr J. F. Ure, of John Elder & Co; Mr James Hamilton, of Barclay. Curie, & Co.; Mr R. Steele. Jun., Greenock; Mr Anthony Inglis Pointhouse; and Mr Benjamin Connor, Caledonian Railway, were appointed a committee to confer with an equal number of workmen elected from the various workshops in the district, with the view of arriving at a friendly arrangement in reference to the subject of the circular.

If the workmen are disposed so to meet in conference, will you kindly send me the names-of their representatives, and the workshops where they are engaged, so that a meeting may be arranged.—I am, Gentlemen, yours truly,

J. P. Smith

, Secretary.
West of Scotland Iron Trades' Short-Time League, Engineers' Committee Rooms, 182 Trongate Glasgow January 30th, 1872

J. P. Smith

, Esq.


I beg to inform you that I am in receipt of the employers' reply to our circular, as forwarded in your communication of date the 26th inst., and further to state that at our next meeting of delegates, which takes place on Saturday first (3d February), it will be duly laid before the meeting for their consignation, as you have desired. Thereafter, when the names of representatives are secured (if the proposal of a conference is approved of), I will page 9 make no delay in forwarding them to allow of the necessary arrangements being made to carry out the conference.—I am, Sir, yours truly,

Thomas R. Elrick

, Secretary.

[The meeting alluded to in this letter took place on the 3d, and the proposal for a conference was accepted. A letter to the following effect was accordingly sent to Mr Smith, Secretary to the Associated Employers]:—

Engineers' Committee Rooms 182 Trongate February 3, 1872

J. P. Smith

, Esq.


Your communication containing the proposal of the employers, as decided upon at their meeting in the Religious Institution Rooms on 26th ult., was laid before a largely-attended meeting of delegates in Painters' Hall, Antigua Place, City, this afternoon, and they unanimously agreed to forward you, in reply, the following resolution, and at the same time inform you of the dissatisfaction they feel that employers non-resident in the district, who had never even been memorialized on the question, have been appointed to take part in the Conference; and to request that if it were possible, without loss of time, to re-arrange this matter so as to meet the workmen's views, you might do so. They could then fully and heartily accord in the proposal referred to.

The following is a copy of the resolution:—" That this meeting of workmen's delegates comply with the employers' proposal, in that they request a conference; and, further, that we agree, as requested, to forward the names of our representatives, and the workshops where they are employed; but that all arrangements for said conference be officially communicated through the Secretary of the League, and not through individual representatives."

Hoping you may find it convenient for the Conference to take place on Tuesday night, or as early thereafter as possible,—I am, yours truly,

Thos. R. Elrick


Secretary of West of Scotland Iron Trades' Short-Time League.

Clyde Shipbuilders' and Engineers' Association 67 Renfield Street Glasgow, 7th Feb., 1872,

Mr Thos. R. Elrick

, Secretary, West of Scotland Iron Trades' Short-Time League.


Your letter of the 3d came to me on the 5th. Arrangements for meeting will be made as soon as possible, and of which due notice shall be sent you.—Yours truly,

Pro J. P. Smith

, Secretary, G. M.
Engineers' Committee Rooms, 182 Trongate, February 8, 1872.

J. P. Smith

, Esq.


Your letter of yesterday has this evening been under the consideration of the Executive of the League, and I have been instructed to inform you that if the objections taken in my last communication to those employers not resident in the district who have been elected as conferees at the proposed conference, is in any way likely to impede the progress of the negotiations, it is our desire that these objections be annulled. Further, we are prompted by the pressure from without to urge that a precise day be stated for the conference to take place, and that it be no later than Tuesday, 13th Feby., 1872; and an answer to this letter is requested by Saturday the 10th, mid-day.—In behalf of the Executive, I am, Sir, yours truly,

Thomas R. Elrick

, Secretary.
Clyde Shipbuilders' and Engineers' Association 67 Renfield Street Glasgow 10th Feby., 1872.


I have your note of the 8th. The objection taken in your former letter to the constitution of the committee of employers appointed to meet in conference with the workmen, made it appear necessary to call the employers together again to reconsider the matter, as no alteration could be made without the sanction of a general meeting.

In your last letter you say—"That if the objections taken in my last communication to those employers not resident in the district, who have been elected as conferees at the proposed, conference, is in any way likely to impede the progress of the negotiations, it is our desire that these objections be annulled." Am I to understand by this that the feelings of dissatisfaction expressed in your first letter are removed, and that you are prepared to meet the committee of employers named "fully and heartily" in conference.—I am, yours faithfully.

J. P. Smith

, Secy, for Employers. Mr Thos. R. Elrick, Secy., West of Scotland Iron Trades' Short-Time League, 182 Trongate.
page 10
Engineers' Committee Rooms. 182 Trongate, February 12th, 1872.

J. P. Smith

, Esq.


It was, and is still, my opinion that my letter of the 8th is clear upon the inference you have taken from it, and I can see no reason why you are protracting the proceedings to such an unwarrantable extent, even though you have had reason to call a second meeting of employers on account of an objection raised against certain conferees on the roll; at any rate the least you could in courtesy have done, was to have communicated the reason of the delay, for it is utterly impossible for us to keep the men much longer in abeyance under such treatment. But, that you may be thoroughly convinced on the question of our readiness and willingness, I beg to state that our conferees have been so situated since the date of my last communication. As there is little time to dispose of, I send this communication by the-hands of a messenger, that any reply you have to give may be at once returned, or a time stated when the party may call for it, if it is inconvenient for you to do so immediately.—I am, &c.,

Thomas R. Elrick, Secretary.

Clyde Shipbuilders' and Engineers' Association, 67 Renfield Street Glasgow 12th Feby., 1872.


I have your note of this date. The inference I drew from your letter of the 8th was, that you annulled the objection, in so far that you were prepared to meet the committee-named; but you did not state that you were satisfied with the constitution of the committee, and prepared to meet them "fully and heartily," as indicated in your letter of the 3d. It is all-important that there should be no doubt as to the spirit in which parties meet, and I will be glad to learn from you if the question put in my letter of the 10th is answered in the affirmative.—Yours faithfully,

J. P. Smith.

Mr Thomas R. Elrick,

Secy. Short-Time League, 26 St. James' Street.
26 St James' Street, Kingston, Glasgow, February 12th, 1872.

J. P. Smith

, Esq.


I am in receipt of yours of this date in reply to mine of this morning. I regret that so much valuable time has been lost upon a matter which is scarcely deserving of so much importance, considering the urgent way in which the workmen are pressing for the conference. But to assure you upon the point indicated in your letter, I distinctly state that we are in the position to enter fullu and heartily into the conference. It is requisite, however, that the arrangements be completed to-day, for we fear it will be impossible to prevent the shops from taking action on their own responsibility, and bringing about consequences that would be serious to both parties concerned, and which might happily be averted by the proposed conference taking place immediately.—I am, yours truly,

Thomas R. Elrick

, Secretary of League.
Clyde Shipbuilders' and Engineers' Association, 67 Renfield Street Glasgow 12th Feby., 1872.


I am glad to receive your second note. There will be no difficulty now in arranging for a meeting. I will probably be able to say to-night or to-morrow forenoon what clay it will suit the masters to meet.—Yours faithfully,

J. P. Smith

, Secy. Mr Thos. R. Elrick, 26 St. James' Street, Glasgow.
26 St. James' Street, Kingston, Glasgow February 12,1872.

J. P. Smith

, Esq.


While expressing satisfaction that we are now on a proper understanding in regard to the conference details, I beg to remind you that to-morrow is the day—the ultimatum—to which the men's impatience will allow them to grant us; and it is, therefore, very necessary that the arrangements do not extend beyond that time, else we cannot promise, as a League, to account for individual shops acting on their own responsibility.

Expecting an answer at your earliest convenience—if not by messenger, please address,. Engineers' Committee Rooms, 182 Trongate,—I am, yours truly,

Thos. R. Elrick

, Secy.
Clyde Shipbuilders' and Engineers' Association, 67 Renfield Street Glasgow 12th Feb., 1872.


I am now able to say that the Employers' Committee will be glad to meet your Committee on Friday the 16th inst., at 2 p.m., within the Religious Institution Rooms, if page 11 convenient for you. In consequence of several of the members of the Committee being front home, this is the earliest day upon which they can meet.—Yours truly,

J. P. Smith.

Mr Thos. P. Elrick, Engineers' Committee Rooms, 182 Trongate.
Engineers' Committee Rooms. 182 Trongate, February 14th, 1872.

J. P. Smith

, Esq.


Your reply to my last communication, which I duly received yesterday morning, was laid before a special meeting of Representatives of the West of Scotland Iron Trades' Short-Time League, last night, in the Blacksmiths' Hall. With the earnest desire to avoid a conflict between themselves and their employers, if it is at all possible, and in consideration of the very reasonable excuse you have assigned as the reason of the delay, the workmen have resolved to meet your Committee on the day appointed, and instructed their representative Committee to attend on their behalf.—I am, Sir, yours truly,

Thos. R. Elrick

, Secretary of League.

The Chairman—Then, this conference has grown out of the correspondence that has been read.

Mr Elrick—Exactly so.

The Chairman—This circular of the workmen asks for a still further reduction than 54 hours, and we should be glad to hear what explanation you have to give in favour of that wish.

Mr Barrowman—I was intending to make an explanation as to what we had to say in the matter; but we have here put a positive question, and we think it is imperative upon you to state your objections. We have made a claim, and we have stated several reasons in its support, and I think the onus rests upon you.

Mr Denny—There is a rule to the effect that you are not required to prove a negative.

Mr A. Inglis—With all due deference to the last speaker on the other side, we have met here to hear some reasons why we should adopt the change. They sent us a circular asking for 51 hours, and we thought it unreasonable, and we wish to hear some of the reasons that have led them to that conclusion. It is very plain, I think, that if we are asked to pay as much wages for 51 hours as we now pay for 57, we are asked to do something that is unreasonable, and something which has not been heard of in the memory of any of us before. We considered that, after this movement had been carried out to the great disadvantage of both employers and employed in Newcastle, the nine hours would be a general thing all over the country. Although none of us—I for one—did not even consider the 54 hours as an advantage either to the men or to ourselves, yet, to save the trouble that would attend upon a strike, we agreed to give the 54 hours. I have an impression that the time will come when men will ask that the hours be brought back to the 57. I would like you to show us any reason why it is oppressive, in the first instance, for a man to work 57 hours, and then let us know how you consider three hours less work would make him a much better man. You must remember that this affair is a matter for the whole country, and not only for a few engineers. Suppose we have a little dulness in the trade. There are a great many men that will be turned out of employment. You will have some poor-rates to pay very likely, and there will be an increase in the amount of these if you do not give your fellow-labourer an equal chance with yourselves. Then, all great changes, if made speedily, either in politics or religion, always entail a great deal of misery upon somebody. This movement will not be any exception, and you may depend upon it that, if carried out, it will cause a great deal of misery. Employers will lose a great amount of money, and that is a very serious thing. As regards the men, it will only be giving them a benefit for a little, while it would be injuring their employers, and they should take this view of the case into account. In a conference like this, it becomes us to try and satisfy ourselves in some shape. As employers, we are perfectly dissatisfied with the proposal for the 51 hours; indeed, we are dissatisfied with the 54; but we would rather suffer than have a strike. We are met here for the purpose, if possible, of averting any dispute, and I hope you will try to enlighten us and give us some reasons why 51 hours should be granted.

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Mr Barrowman—I am glad Mr Inglis has so freely given expression to his feelings, and I would now with deference yield to some other speakers on the same aide.

The Chairman—I think Mr Inglis has opened up the matter in a manner sufficient to give you an opportunity to make a statement, which I have no doubt you will have thought over. It will lead to some further discussion.

Mr Barrowman—It is entirely out of deference, Mr Chairman, that I wished to give precedence to the other side. I have prepared no set speech. As regards the general question of the 51 hours, whether it is to be a general benefit or not, is a very broad question—to take it as Mr Inglis has viewed it, as affecting himself, the working men, and the general community. Now, I think, from the working man's point of view, that the 51 hours will produce a great benefit to him. By granting this demand of the working man, you will enhance the general good of the community. If we are called upon to work too much, we prevent others from working. We are filling our jails and poorhouses by working overmuch. we want to divide work with our fellows; and it will certainly recur to the employers that they will have less burdens in the shape of taxes for the poor and for police, and the result will ultimately be a benefit to them as well as to us and to the country generally. We want, if possible, to widen the circle of labour, and bring within it a large number of people who are at present a burden to the nation. Then, again, we want to bring in many—a great many people who are continually taking to selling anything in the world by which they can support themselves and avoid labour. They are a burden upon us, because we have to work what they are neglecting to work. The greater number of these people we have to maintain, the more harm is done to the general welfare of the community. You are well aware that working men generally try to obviate this evil and burden by supporting co-operative stores and various kinds of co-operation. By these means they shorten the various channels through which the necessaries of life run, and in that way they throw out a great number of people who are in the dealing line, and enhance the quality of the articles of life in comparison with the prices they pay for them at the present time. In this way those middle people, who live upon us, will be obliged to go to work, while at the same time our wants will be better supplied. Another thing we wish to do is to make labour less revolting, so that men will not feel they are degraded by working at a trade. I have worked now for nearly thirty years. I have done the very best I could to place myself in a respectable position. With no want of care, and no want of ability, and with no want of willingness to work—for no man ever said I was lazy—I have made nothing by it, and am here to-day looking forward to an early grave by working too much. This morning I was working when I should have been in bed. Now, this is the condition I am driven into by so many people being left cut of employment, whilst I have to help to keep them in a state of idleness. Now, looking at the question in its broad political light, there is at the present time an understanding among the whole of the working classes. They are united in various forms for the purpose and with the express determination of bettering their condition. The working classes have set their minds upon this short-time movement, and I ask you will you delay the settlement of this question until a political crisis arrives l There is little doubt that in the near future some revolution is approaching. I wish this question settled, so that it would not be in the way then. As you are well aware, eight hours has been considered as the maximum of a day's labour by men -who have studied the question thoroughly, and we have compromised the matter by asking an hour less.

Mr Simpson—I do not see the necessity of taking up the eight hours' question at all, because I think we can safely leave it to the next generation. I am of the same opinion as Mr Barrowman, and I do not think our request is unreasonable. Mr Inglis has attempted to show that it is; but I don't at all agree with him that the result of shortening the hours of labour would be an increase of pauperism. There are other causes at work to produce pauperism; and before this Conference is ended, I think it will not be difficult to prove that overtime has a great deal to page 13 do with it. Overtime enervates the system and creates a craving for stimulants, and we know with what results these are often resorted to. The respectable working man becomes a drunkard, and he and his wife and family are a burden upon his fellow-workmen and on society. I think this a sufficient reason to show that the shortening of the hours of labour will not increase the burdens of society. We ask the hours shortened to allow us time for the improvement of our minds. I can assure you that we, as working men, highly appreciate the right recently accorded us of having some share in the making of the laws by which we are governed; but I hold it is a necessary following up of that right that we should use it for the amelioration of our condition. I hope, gentlemen, you are not to hold that working men are always to remain in the same condition of existence as they were, say 500 years ago. It is only a question of a very few months, indeed, when this short time movement will be recognised and acknowledged all over the country. You all know that in Dundee and Edinburgh, and other places, the employers have, in some instances at least, granted the request of their workmen———

Mr Steele—They have been forced into it.

Mr Simpson—Well, I think we should take a broad view of this question. Personally, I may say I have no objection to 54 hours; but I look upon it in this light—What is the use of us starting with 54 hours just now, and then, in a few months hence, having to re-open the whole question? I think it would be better to settle the question for at least our generation.

Mr Denny—I would just remark that the question may be brought up some months hence in a different way.

Bailie Hamilton—The reverse way?

Mr Denny—Yes. There is no doubt that what brought this question up just now is the favourable state of trade; but as the state of trade was three years ago, rest assured it will be three years hence.

Mr Turnbull—If that is so, there is all the more reason that we should have the hours of labour shortened when trade is prosperous. It is for our interest to get this reduction, for one reason—for the well-being of the rising generation. The apprentices in our workshops are kept working late hours, and prevented attending the evening school. Now, if they dropped at five o'clock, they would have plenty of time to attend these schools.

Bailie Hamilton—According to your proposal, the hours of labour are to be reduced by six, and you are to remain as at present so far as wages are concerned. I have no doubt you will find very soon that your wages will not go so far as they used to do. Of course, if the price of provisions is getting up, your wages will not be of equal value to what they are now. That is looking at the question from your point of view; but do you ever look at it from the way in which it is calculated to affect your employers? The first thing you ask us to do is to give you 51 hours, and you are, at the same time, to get the same amount of money as you now get for 57 hours. Well, taking the men's wages just now at 6d per hour, that is 28s (id. Now, the first tiling we have to do, after granting the 51 hours, is to advance the wages so that they shall come up to 28s 6d per week, or something like 6¾d an hour. Well, that is the first consideration on the part of the masters. Supposing they granted all that, and the state of trade continued good, they should have to get more men to do the work. Then the question arises, Where are we to get them? One of the speakers said one object of reducing the hours was that more men might be employed. Now, the fact is that in many departments we cannot get men as it is. Well, passing over that, when you work 51 hours, and receive 57 hours' pay, should you be required to work say three hours additional, you require us to pay time-and-half overtime. The man that now gets £1 8s 6d a week would for the same hours get 5s 7d additional, or within a trifle of 20 per cent, more than at present. Now, I ask you to look at the matter from that point of view. The sum of 20 per cent, is equal in our works to about £18,000 a year. You ask us for a reason for saying your demand is unreasonable. Is it not unreasonable to put us in this position—that we will lose £18,000 a year? Would it not be much better to be satisfied with the 54 hours than produce such disastrous results as this?

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Mr Watson—Our employers still seem to hang on to the idea that the men will work 60 hours per week if they are paid overtime. We do not want to work overtime. I firmly believe that, by increased diligence on the part of those above us, the loss will not be so great as is supposed. We know that when it comes to the last hour of the day—at night, when it comes to be getting dark, a good deal of time is often lost, and I consider the employers will not be at such a loss after all. If you take it cent, per cent., it looks large; but we believe that increased energy-will be put into our work while we are at it if the reduction is conceded. ("Hear, hear," from Mr Inglis.) A considerable time has been given to finish existing contracts. We see that the iron market has been rising to an enormous extent, and I do not think it is a reasonable view to suppose that we working men would quietly sit still, and not endeavour to improve our position. I have no doubt that you have considered these questions in taking recent contracts. The wages of nearly all other trades have been rising, but a good many years ago our wages were as high as they are at the present time.

Mr Steele—The engineers alone have not got the benefit.

Mr Watson—No, Sir, we have not. We are bound to look at the matter also in another light. Provisions are getting up, and everyone is getting a slice off our weekly allowance, so that we are really in a worse position than we were a good many years ago. In my own position, I find that to keep a house and keep myself respectable is no easy matter; and I get but a bare existence compared with that of other tradesmen. We consider that our existence should be got for as reasonable a number of hours as possible, and that our demand of 51 hours is by no means unreasonable.

Mr Denny—The real question is, Can this be agreed to in the present state of trade? The argument from political economy can be considered from both sides. I want to look at the matter in a practical light, and I find that the difference to me between 51 and 54 hours is £5000. I am happy to say I have protected myself by taking no contracts. I could not protect myself by putting the contemplated additional outlay on the contracts. I tried it in several instances, and the result was that I lost the contracts altogether. I had anticipated the 54 hours long before it came, and made provision for it.

Mr Watson—You are working 60 hours in Dumbarton, and the reduction in your case to 54 will be the same as the reduction in Glasgow from 57 to 51.

Mr Denny—The difference in our work between 54 hours and 51 makes £5000 a-year. In making my contracts I did not allow for this; therefore I would have to lose it, and I can't afford it. I put the matter in this shape. I am willing to grant 54 hours, which is a reduction of six hours per week, and I hold that is a very fair concession, situated as I am, to my workmen. I had expected you to believe me when I say that I cannot afford to go further. Then, the reduction of the hours, coupled with the advance in the material, has deprived me of orders; and the engines I ought to have made for the Austrian Lloyd's are now being made in Trieste, because they can be made there more cheaply. I think that a reduction of the hours to fifty-one would be destructive of the trade. I was prepared to reduce the hours to fifty-four, and my workmen have expressed themselves willing to accept my proposal. I have been a working man myself, and worked very hard too, and I can sympathise with my friend, Mr Barrowman; only I have been a little more fortunate than he. I don't think, with all deference to my friend, Mr Barrowman, that nine hours is an excessive day's work for any man of fair average health and strength. It has not prevented many men from rising in the world, and providing for their families in a respectable way, and I hope the Conference will consider whether the 54 hours is not really going far enough at present. Of course, I quite agree with Mr Turnbull that now is the time to push for the 51 hours; but I would just like to call attention to this view of the matter: when trade reaches an excessive height of prosperity (I speak from thirty years' experience), there most certainly comes a turning point. I want to give the discussion a practical turn if possible.

Mr Simpson—I think this a most important part of the discussion. Mr Hamil- page 15 ton informs us that the change would involve his firm in a loss of £18,000; but will Mr Hamilton maintain that shipping companies should have nothing else to do but draw large dividends off his capital and our labour. I wish you to take this view of the matter. We are not wanting anything unjust or unreasonable. We are quite willing to allow some time to expire before we insist upon the 51 hours taking effect, and I don't see any difficulty in raising the next contracts you make. The men are now getting 6s more per week in Liverpool, and 10s more a week in London; and how is it that the English employer, competing in the same market with the Scotch employer, can afford to pay so much greater wages? I think the way to get over this matter is to name a time for the 51 hours to come into force, and to provide for it in the next contracts.

Mr Barrowman—The working classes of the West of Scotland and of the whole of the country have come to the conclusion that it is better to reduce the hours of labour than to claim a rise in their wages. The present is a time when a rise of from 10 to 20 per cent, might justly be claimed, because the iron markets have actually risen from 10 to 40 per cent. Well, it is necessary that we should bestir ourselves to keep pace with the age. In recent years we would have accepted a rise in our wages rather than a reduction of the hours of labour, but I can assure you that the working classes are now thoroughly in earnest in wishing the hours reduced.

Mr Denny—I would suggest that we take the week at 54 hours, with the wages as they are now, and give an advance of 5 per cent, in addition. We must look this matter fairly in the face, because, although I have not got it, there is a pressure of work on the Clyde just now, and it has got to be wiped off. I won't take the vulgar view of the overtime. I have been always against it. (Hear, hear.) My proposal would be halving the time in dispute, and would give the employers the advantage of three hours more.

Mr Turnbull—Take 54 hours at present, and state a time when you will grant the 51 hours, allowing time to complete existing contracts.

Mr A. Inglis—The contracts just now will last for twelve months, at least.

Mr Denny—I state frankly to you that I do not think nine hours is an excessive day's labour. Let us see how it works. I think it a very fair compromise.

Mr A. Inglis—But you understand that applies only to the engineers.

Mr Barrowman—We do not belong only to engineers.

Mr Connor—The reduction already granted in our work from 57 to 54 hours a week has caused a loss of 500 days per week. Suppose that the 51 hours are granted, we shall lose 1000 days per week; and how do you think, in the present state of the labour market, shall I be able to provide for that loss? That is another way to look at the matter. Just as surely as sunshine follows sunrise, we will have as bad times as we have ever had. I assure you that any position that is taken by force cannot be maintained. Anything given by concession, and taken frankly, will be maintained. I have spoken to many employers, and I know that whatever you take from them by force, they will take back by force when their opportunity arrives. I am merely throwing out these hints as a caution.

Mr Marshall—I think that really when men are well dealt with it will be found that, with shorter hours, the work would nearly come up to the same mark as formerly. I can prove that in the shop in which I am working we have actually done more work in the 54 hours than we used to do in the 57.

Mr Connor—That statement goes to show that the work was not honestly done before.

Mr Steele—I do not think that is the inevitable conclusion, Mr Connor.

Mr Marshall—We are not entitled to tear ourselves to pieces, but if well dealt -with, we can do more work.

The Chairman—It is contended on the one side that a reduction of the hours means a reduction of work; it is contended on the other that a reduction of the hours gives increased physical power, so that that increased power accomplishes more work in less time. Could not some arrangement be made by which both views could be met? Suppose you made an arrangement agreeing upon terms of page 16 piece-work. Every man then would be at liberty to do as much or as little as was good for him, and would be satisfied that he was doing what was just. It seems to me that a fair arrangement between masters and men could be attained if a well-regulated system of piecework were introduced, and it appears to me that such a meeting as this could suggest ways of carrying out such a system. I make that suggestion with the object of throwing difficulties out of the way.

Mr Turnbull—If the piece-work proposal were put to the shops on the Clyde, I am certain it would be the means of turning out the whole trade.

Mr Denny—In proportion as I raise the wages I get less work, and that is my experience for a period of thirty years.

Mr Barrowman—Mr Denny's opinion is different from mine, and I have my own individual opinion.

Mr Denny—I admit there are some workmen who will work conscientiously whatever pay they get.

Mr Barrowman—A remark was thrown out that possibly the men did not work fair before the hours were reduced to fifty-four. Now, I was working 60 hours aweek a fortnight ago, and I am as tired at night now, and my fellow-workmen are the same, when we are working fewer hours. I suppose that while we are at work we exercise greater diligence.

The Chairman—I understand you put it in this way, that a man has only a certain amount of energy, and that that energy can be given out in nine hours as well as in ten.

Mr Barrowman—Certainly. If the working men in this country are not relieved of what they consider a great burden and an anomalous position, they will seek refuge in America.

Mr Denny—That is as it should be.

Mr Barrowman—I know that the best intelligence has been draining to America for years.

Mr Steele—It is always so.

Mr Barrowman—There is not such a wide gap between employer and employed there, and there is not so much room for the general dealer. Why, I know an article of commerce which the employer has to produce at a certain price; the workman gets but a small proportion of that price, and when it comes into the hands of the general dealer, he gets from thirty-five to fifty per cent. You know that shippers wont ship anything less than fifty per cent., and we are jogging the employers a little bit just now, that they may jog the shippers.

Mr Steele—There are goods lying in India just now unsaleable, for the production of which the workmen have got their waves.

Mr Turnbull—The workmen have produced this extra work by working too long hours, and that is one of the very reasons on account of which we want the hours reduced. At the time of the blockade-running in America I was not in Glasgow at that time, but I happen to know what took place. The blockade entailed upon the workmen nearly two years of overtime. After that there came four years of idleness, or, as I should perhaps say, of dulness; and I know plenty of respectable men who at that time had to go about for two years, or two years and a-half, with little or no work.

Mr Denny—I want, if possible, to give the conversation a practical turn. The case, I think, stands in this way. The employers feel that they have a certain amount of work on hand, which they want to get done as cheaply as possible; and the workmen feel that there is a certain amount of work on hand, and they want to get as much for it as possible. I have told you my views. If you exact these fifty-one hours from me, you punish me to the extent of a loss of five thousand pounds; and if I can at all avoid giving fifty-one hours by any means in my power, I tell you frankly I will do it. I am the very last man to do anything harshly; but, at the same time, I am but human, and when I do go into a thing——but I don't want to speak of that. I hope the workmen will consider the proposals that have been made.

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Mr A. Inglis—If the men accept our terms, it would save the necessity of working a great deal of overtime.

Mr Simpson—I can assure you, gentlemen, that an earnest and determined attempt will be made to do away with overtime. I think that at this conference it should be thoroughly understood that overtime is a thing we desire to get quit of altogether. I hold that overtime must be very detrimental to the men, and that they should never be required to work it unless when it cannot by any possibility be avoided. When I say this, I refer to an impression that prevails all over the country. We are willing to pay a slight increase in the railway fares to assist Mr Connor. (Laughter.)

Mr Denny—I object to that. (Laughter.)

Mr Connor—The matter of raising the fares does not affect us at all. We are bound to have a certain number of hours worked every week to maintain our stock in good working condition, and if we don't get that number of hours, so many carriages will be thrown out of use. I cannot get extra men, and those I have must work overtime. Before long, if things go on as they are doing, the labour market will be converted into a sort of Dutch auction, where employers will have to contend against one another for men to do their work. Would not that be a nice state of things?

Mr Denny—Perhaps,for the men. (Laughter).

Mr Simpson—And perhaps it might be the right state of things.

Mr Steele—Yes; it would save you all the trouble. (Laughter).

Mr Connor—We all supposed that when the 54 hours were accepted in England, it would be a settled question; but in this country they are not satisfied with that, and it is very likely that we shall be asked to make concession after concession, until it comes to 48 hours per week. There is just this difficulty in the way, that we must have our work done, and we cannot get men to do it.

Mr Denny—I would like to give the discussion a practical turn again. You will never agree upon the political economy of the matter. I may tell you frankly that we shall have the 54 hours. There is not a single man in our shops in Dumbarton that did not come and tender his services to work the 54 hours.

Bailie Hamilton—The ship-carpenters and rivetters have agreed to the 54 hours. We have heard nothing further from the joiners, and it seems to be only the engineers that are standing out for the 51 hours.

Mr Connor—I find the blacksmiths in my shop, to a man, are against the 51 hours.

Mr Watson—For your information, I can forward you by to-morrow, if you wish it, a list of the members of committee, containing 40 names from each department that gave in their adhesion to the 51 hours.

Mr Connor—We have 1030 men, and that number forms only a very small proportion indeed.

Mr Steele—I take it that the 40 means the delegates or members of committee sent from the different shops.

Mr Watson—It is just the committee, elected to represent the men.

Mr Steele—I think it is worthy the consideration of the men, with the view of arriving at an amicable settlement of this matter, to accept the 54 hours, with the increase mentioned in the pay. You would get that, I think, without leaving any rankling feeling in the masters' breasts; but, supposing the men would strike, and get the 51 hours while trade was good, the matter would only just have to come up again for settlement. Mr Ure and myself have just returned from a meeting of the National Association in England, and the feeling is most strong there that we should not go beyond the 54 hours.

The Chairman—Here a great change is proposed, which means a change of a revolutionary character, and no change of this character has ever been permanent. Changes that have been for the benefit of parties or nations have always been gradual. As changes have been gradual, they have been wise. The working hours came down from 60 to 57. That was a thing the masters could stand, and it was done willingly. Well, at the present time, from 57 to 54 is a matter that the masters can bear.

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Mr Denny—I don't go the length of saying that I am willing to bear it.

The Chairman—Well, I believe that is the general feeling of all those I have seen about the matter, but they will not be satisfied in descending further. We will assume, as one of your number has stated, that there is as much work done in 54 hours as there was formerly in 57.

Mr Barrowman—I merely made that statement from my own experience.

The Chairman—Well, for the sake of argument, let us assume that it is so. Then that is a reason, you say, why there should be some further concession. If it be proved, after a trial of the 54 hours, that that statement is well founded, then, in time, we might be able to grant some further concession. Of course it is a great advantage to the masters, and to the men also, that things should go on in a harmonious and friendly manner. It is to the advantage of the masters that the elevation of the workmen should attain a high position, and it is clear that, to accomplish this, they must have more leisure than at present. But when you come to take into account what this entails in the meantime, you must see that the reduction of the number of working hours is such as to interfere seriously with the quantity of work that is actually performed. On all hands the masters are very much pressed at the present time. The state of trade has put them into such a position that many masters are refusing to undertake work. I may say that for a considerable period we have been refusing large quantities of work, so that at this present time, although we are not overstocked with work, we are in such a state of uncertainty that we do not know what to ask for the future. For the first time in our experience, contracts that used to be done here have gone to France. You are in this way calling into existence a power that, in the early future, will become a competing power; and instead of having the work in your hands, you are driving it off to other places to employ people in other parts of the world; and then, when slack times come, you have got foreign competition to contend with. It seems to me that these changes should not be of a revolutionary character, because in that way the interests both of masters and men are imperilled. With regard to overtime, I believe it is altogether a mistake. It appears to me that the suggestion thrown out by Mr Denny is a very judicious one. It effects a change gradually, and therefore permanently—(hear, hear)—and it is not of that revolutionary character that sets class against class and interest against interest. It is therefore a matter well worthy of your consideration, and if it met with your approval, we would have a meeting afterwards, and submit it to the Association that appointed us, and try and effect a friendly arrangement that would be satisfactory to employers and employed.

Bailie Hamilton—With regard to overtime, I find from the circular that the working people ask time-and-a-half for all overtime. In our circular we offered to give time-and-a-quarter for the first six hours, and time-and-a-half afterwards. I think we might perhaps consider whether we would not give time-and-a-half for the whole time, and do away with the penny of allowance.

Mr Steele—I understand they only pay time-and-a quarter in England.

The Chairman—Yes; but each case must be settled upon its own merits.

Mr Denny—I don't believe there will be any difficulty with those details.

Mr Barrowman—I don't consider that this question of doing away with the penny of allowance is one that will be gracefully conceded by the men. It is a question of penalty against overtime. What we want to show you is this, that when a man with 30s per week works overtime, his time and a half counts a great deal to him; whereas, to a man with £1 per week, it only counts two-thirds to him of what the other received for perhaps the same labour. The latter thus sacrifices so much of his time.

Mr A. Inglis—But he is not such a valuable man.

Mr Barrowman—There is a large number of apprentices, and the employers take advantage of apprentices with small wages to make them work overtime, when it is possible to dispense with the men who work for larger wages.

Mr Steele—It would be better to pay apprentices double for overtime.

Mr Turnbull—Our object is to get overtime done away with as much as possible.

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Mr Simpson—We are quite aware that at times it is necessary that we should work overtime, but it is systematic overtime we wish done away with.

Bailie Hamilton—But do you not think, gentlemen, that this very strict line will prove a positive injustice to some of your number? There is many a man as able to work ten hours a day as others are to work eight or nine hours.

Mr Turnbull—I had three nights a week of overtime for six months, and I believe that if I had continued it for other three months I would have become a. drunkard.

Mr Connor—It is very bad.

Mr Steele—Very bad!

Mr Turnbull—You will observe that in the Chief-Constable's report he states that there is a decrease of crime in the city, and he attributes it, in part at least, to the healthy state of trade. More people are finding employment, and are kept from sinking into crime. Therefore, I think we should take in a little more of them, and save the Magistrates the labour of sending them to prison. (Great laughter.)

Mr Connor—The proposal to take men off the streets, and put them into our works, seems to me exceedingly absurd.

Mr A. Inglis—There are no engineers on the streets.

Mr Connor—No doubt there are in the very best of times a few good men that do not work; but they are very few indeed.

Mr Watson—Perhaps the Habitual Criminals' Bill has had more to do with the decrease of crime than anything else. The thing we object to is systematic overtime.

Mr Crichton—Your proposal, as I understood it, is, that we shall work 54 hours, and get the same wages as we now have for 57, with 5 per cent, additional. Now, are we to suppose that you made this offer because you are unable to go the length of 51 hours?

Mr Steele—Yes; it is too great a stretch at once.

Mr Crichton—It is an understood thing among workmen that we are to begin to work 51 hours on the first of April. In Edinburgh, Dundee, and Aberdeen, the masters have conceded the 51 hours, and if the 51 hours were not granted here, the men would not be content to work 54 hours.

Mr Denny—I beg to state distinctly, that so far as my workmen are concerned, there is not the slightest dissatisfaction, not the slightest agitation of any kind whatever. I can also speak positively in reference to the most of the works in Glasgow.

Mr Barkowman—I will give you an invitation to meet the workmen to-morrow when you can judge for yourself.

Mr Denny—That is not the question. I speak of what is the understood feeling in the shops, where we know the feeling that has existed. I am speaking of the Glasgow shops that I am acquainted with, and these other gentlemen can speak for themselves.

Mr Turnbull—Well, I can speak of the shop I am in, that they are for the 51 hours unanimously. I may add that 1 have heard the reports of the other delegates from the other shops in Glasgow, and I am not to imagine that they came forward without authority and told lies. A meeting of the men will be held to-morrow afternoon in the Green, and any of you that like can come and judge for yourselves.

Bailie Hamilton—I would not place any confidence in a meeting held on the Green. If you call a meeting there, who will you get to attend it. You will get a mob of people of all sorts, and it would be impossible to estimate the value of any resolutions that might be passed.

Mr Turnbull—Well, what would you propose to do to learn the feelings of the workmen?

Bailie Hamilton—I would propose that the feelings of the men in the different shops should be ascertained by ballot.

The Chairman—If a ballot were agreed to, a committee like the present one, composed equally of employers and workmen, would do very well to conduct it, page 20 and there should be no nonsense about it at all. For my own part, I have been very anxious to get at the real feeling of the men. I don't know whether it is that the workmen are afraid to speak out or not, but we invariably get one kind of answer from them. If we ask our foremen what are the feelings of the men, their reply is generally that they are very well satisfied. It appears to me that were the ballot properly conducted, it would be a very fair way of getting at the minds of the men. An arrangement could easily be made by which two ballot boxes would be provided—on one of which would be printed 54 hours and 57 hours pay, with an addition of 5 per cent., and on the other 51 hours, with the wages as at present. The men could then drop their voting papers into either box they pleased, and we should thus arrive at the real state of the case.

Mr Turnbull—I am of opinion that the ballot could very well be taken in the way suggested by the Chairman.

Mr Barrowtman—The masters would not take the trouble to have the ballot carried out. You of the Associated Shipbuilders do not comprise the whole of the masters of Glasgow. The notices that you issued were not posted on one-third of the shops in Glasgow. I never saw one of the bills, and its contents did not appear to affect the men at all. We were obliged to form the League because the employers, when we applied to them individually, shuffled and shelved us.

Mr Connor—If the men take the 51 hours, it will be taken back from them before long.

Mr Turnbull—Let me assure you that the men are fully prepared for that. I would just submit this to you—Would it be agreeable to the employers to fix a date when the 51 hours would come into operation, suppose we accepted the 54 hours just now?

Bailie Hamilton—You had better mention a date.

Mr Turnbull—Suppose it were after the Fair Holidays.

The Chairman—We cannot give short time before we have finished our contracts. What we should like you to do would be this, and remember we are merely expressing our own sentiments, because we have to go back to those who appointed us. I put the matter to you again, and I should propose that the hours be reduced from 57 to 54, with five per cent, of an addition on the present wages. Let us see how that will work, and, if after a time it should work favourably, no one would be better pleased at it than I should. Do you think your committee would recommend to the workmen that this would be a satisfactory solution of the question? I think it is probable we should do so on our part.

Mr Watson—Speaking from that point of view, I may say that we have investigated into the feeling in the different shops, and I think it would not be accepted; but we believe that if the 51 hours were granted now, it would settle the question for a very long time. If you had named some particular date, not terribly far away, when you would consider the 51 hours, I believe we would do our utmost to settle the question.

Mr Marshall—I am not prepared to accept 54 hours and an advauce of 5 per cent. The attitude of the men shows conclusively that they are prepared to stand for the 51 hours at all hazards.

Mr Steele—It is better to be candid; but we can just be as candid.

Mr Connor—Then, when you meet with the men, be candid enough to tell them that if the 51 hours is insisted upon now, it will not be a final settlement. We have not heard of a single employer who was willing to grant the reduction willingly; they do it under pressure.

Mr Simpson—Well, Mr Connor, if you frame a resolution, I will submit it to the meeting to-morrow on the Green; or I will pledge myself to lay the masters' offers fairly before the men.

Mr Marshall—We know very well that all the other towns will be guided by the settlement of the question here, and we have, therefore, more to look to than ourselves.

Bailie Hamilton—You say that you will be satisfied with nothing but a reduction of the time; how long are you to be content with the same wages?

page 21

Mr Turnbull—The wages will rule themselves by the demand for labour in the market.

Mr Watson—You may leave that with us. You have never seen an organised attempt among the engineers in Glasgow for the purpose of raising wages.

Mr Connor—I give you credit for being reasonable in other respects, bat I am sorry to say that I cannot give you credit for being reasonable in this instance.

Mr Marshall—In England the wages are higher than here.

Mr A. Inglis—Then, living is higher there.

Mr Barrowman—Then, if living is higher there, and if the employers have to accommodate their men with higher wages, while they have to operate in the same market with employers here, it comes to be a question whether the employers here are not well able to pay more than they do.

This ended the discussion, an understanding having been arrived at that the workmen's delegates should submit the employers' proposals to their constituents, and report the result to the masters by the following Monday.

Mr Elrick proposed a vote of thanks to Mr Ure for presiding, which was accorded, and the Conference then broke up.

Engineers' Committee Rooms, 182 Trongate, February 17, 1872.

J. P. Smith

, Esq.


As requested by the Committee of Employers at the breaking-up of the Conference on Friday, I now send you the result of our Mass Meeting of to-day on Glasgow Green, that the employers at their meeting on Monday may have it before them. It may, in. the first place, be mentioned that on Friday night a delegate meeting was held in the Engineer's Committee Rooms to hear the result of that day's Conference, and decide upon the best course to ascertain the feelings and wishes of the men in regard to the offer (three hours reduction, with an addition of 5 per cent, on the present pay) made by the employers, so that they might have no suspicion of being unfairly dealt with.

A resolution was passed—"That the delegates of the different shops here represented hold workshop meetings on Saturday morning, to lay the employers' terms before the men, so as to ascertain their minds on the matter; also, that they write the result of these meetings on a, slip of paper, and hand it in at the Committee Room one hour before the time of meeting in the afternoon."

As the result of this, it was found that, out of the number of thirty-six shops which sent in their returns, three voted for the employers' terms, and all the rest were against them.

These returns were read in open meeting on the Green, so that anyone might have the opportunity of objecting, if he found that his shop had been misrepresented by the delegates, as a guarantee that the returns were correct.

Mr John Simpson (one of our deputation) then rose and stated to the meeting that he had pledged himself to the employers that he would lay the whole matter before the workmen in the fairest and plainest possible way, and he took the opportunity then afforded him of doing so.

Afterwards, a workman proposed the following resolution:—"That this meeting still adheres to the terms of the Circular," which was duly seconded. It was then asked whether or not there was anyone had an amendment to make; but as no amendment was forthcoming, it was suggested—so that the meeting might be fully tested—that votes be taken, first on the side of the motion, and then for the employers' terms. The motion was declared carried, only-three hands being held up in favour of the employers' terms. The number present at the meeting is estimated by the press to be from 12,000 to 15,000.—I am, yours truly,

Thos. R. Elrick

, Secy, of League.
Clyde Engineers' and Shipbuilders' Association, 67 Renfield Street, Glasgow Mr Thos. R. Elrick, 182 Trongate. 19th Feb., 1872.


I am to inform you that at a largly attended meeting of employers, held in the Religious Institution Rooms to-day, your letter containing the result of Mass Meeting held on Green on Saturday was submitted, and I was instructed to inform you that the employers adhere to the offer made at the Conference on Friday—viz., that a week's work be 54 hours, and that the pay be increased so as to be in amount equal to what would be received for 60 hours' work; that overtime be paid at the rate of time-and-half—no extra allowance for overtime.—

Yours faithfully,

J. P. Smith.

page 22
Engineers' Committee Rooms, 182 Trongate, Feb. 20, 1872.

J. P. Smith

, Esq.


Your letter of the 19th has duly reached me, containing the resolution of the employers to adhere to the terms mentioned at the Conference of Friday, the 16th inst.

It is very noticeable that in your letter all idea of a future Conference is completely excluded; therefore, there is no other alternative before us now than that we resort to extreme measures to effect our purpose, unless some further arrangement can be made to do it in a peaceable manner.

This peculiarity in your letter to which I refer occupied the consideration of our General Committee Meeting of Delegates to-night. Many remarks were made of a determined character by them in giving in reports of the situation of the different workshops, and altogether things bore a very threatening aspect. It was agreed, however, after considerable discussion—"That we request the employers to reconsider the 51 hours, &c., question, coupled with the suggestion of allowing a reasonable time to complete existing contracts; and that, failing to agree among ourselves as to what might be a reasonable time, an arbiter be called in to decide the point." I have been instructed to communicate this suggestion to you to lay before next .meeting of employers.—I am, yours truly,

Thos. R. Elrick

, Secy, of League.
Clyde Shipbuilders' and Engineers' Association, 67 Renfield Street Glasgow 21st Feb., 1872.

Mr Thos. R. Elrick

182 Trongate.

Dear Sir,

Your letter of yesterday's date, containing resolution passed at meeting of delegates last night, requesting that employers should further consider your proposal, and suggesting arbitration in case of difference, was laid before a largely attended meeting of employers to-day; and it was agreed that, on condition that the men now out on strike return to their work on or before Friday first, the 23d inst., that a committee of employers will be prepared to meet with the workmen's committee again in conference, to reconsider and discuss the questions at issue, with the view of arriving at an amicable settlement; and should there still be differences of opinion, it was agreed to submit the questions in dispute to arbitration.

The employers' committee will be glad to meet in conference to-morrow or Friday, at 2 P.M., or any other day that will suit you.

Should a meeting in conference take place before the men now out return to their work, it is on the understanding that your committee will use all possible influence to get the men to return.—

Yours faithfully,

J. F. Smith, Secy.