The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 12
- Messrs J. F. Ure (who presided);
- John L. K. Jamieson (of John Elder & Co.);
- Anthony Inglis;
- Bailie Hamilton;
- Messrs B. Connor;
- A. Baton (of Caird & Co., Greenock); and
- J.G. Lawrie (Whiteinch); with
- J. P. Smith as Secretary.
- Messrs Thomas Turnbull;
- James Alison;
- John Simpson;
- John Marshall;
- Messrs John Crichton;
- Robekt Stephens; and
- Hugh Watson; with
- Thos. R. Elrick as Secretary.
Mr Connor—Before any business is transacted, Mr Chairman, I wish to draw your attention to a report of our last meeting in the Herald, in which I am grossly misrepresented. There are only a few lines of what I said in it, and these few lines are sadly distorted. The report represents me as saying—"It is useless to say there was so much moral feeling in the workmen;" whereas what I said was—"It is all humbug to talk of the moral feeling of the workmen." The humbug was not the moral feeling of the workmen, but it was in going on talking about it apart from the subject.
The Chairman—I think Mr Connor is quite entitled to make a full explanation, and I would ask the reporters to take notice of it. The reporter of the Herald, however, has explained to me that, after reports of meetings are written out, and handed to the editor, they are frequently cut down; and in this way the misrepresentation to which Mr Connor alluded might, perhaps, have occurred.
Bailie Hamilton—While these explanations are being made, perhaps I might ask the Secretary of the workmen, what was his reason for introducing my name so conspicuously at the meeting on the Green, saying—" Here comes Bailie Hamilton?" (Laughter).
Mr Elrick—I cannot say there was anything particular led me to mention it, unless that you were present as one who represented the employers; and it was merely to bring the fact before the men's minds that one of the representatives of the masters at the Conference was present.
Bailie Hamilton—I thought you were just passing a joke on me. (Laughter).
Mr Elrick—By no means.
Mr Connor—If what I have referred to be a specimen of reporting, the reporters had better not be here at all.
Mr Simpson—I may say that we have a reporter here who is taking full notes for publication, and I can assure Mr Connor that he will get every justice.
The Chairman—There is a note here, signed by the workmen's secretary, page 34 requesting that our secretary should favour him with a list of the names of the employers who were present at the meeting at which we were appointed to act as representatives at these Conferences. There can be no difficulty, of course, in giving these names; but I would suggest that before the report is printed, it should, be submitted to us, so that it may be revised; because a person often in talking says things he really does not intend. I should also be very glad to recommend that we should bear half the expense, and get half the copies.
Mr Simpson—We intend to make something out of it, and if you mean to be a half of the expense, I hope you will not ask half the profits.
The Chairman—We will take half the copies, and leave you the profits.
Mr Connor—If it comes to me, I certainly shall cut out everything that is not pertinent to the question. The proper way is, for each man who has spoken to get a proof of his own remarks, and make the necessary corrections.
The Chairman—That is the way I have always done. I suppose we may consider it settled that we will take half the copies and bear half the expense, so that we may get the benefit of it as well as you?
Mr Anthony Inglis—And I think we should get half the profits. (Laughter.)
Bailie Hamilton—I really don't know what you will do with one-half the copies, because there might perhaps be 20,000 or 30,000 men who might take copies.
The Chairman—Then, we can take a certain number, and pay the profit prices.
Mr Connor—I will pay any money to be kept from reading it, I can tell you. (Laughter.)
The Chairman—Now, gentlemen, we have had a meeting to-day of our constituents. They were called together very hurriedly, and therefore we had not so large a meeting as we have had on previous occasions. We laid the question before them as it stood at the close of the Conference yesterday, and I think they would have been inclined to leave the matter with this committee for settlement; but we had an impression from the public papers that the resolution come to at the meeting of your constituents did not allow you to go further than the date mentioned in that resolution. Therefore, we came to the conclusion that, unless we have mistaken what was agreed to at your meeting, as reported in the papers, the matter must be left to arbitration, as suggested in the letter of your secretary. It is possible that we may have misunderstood the papers, and I should be very glad if you would set us right if we are under any misapprehension.
Mr Turnbull—We laid the proposals we made here yesterday before our meeting last night, and there was a motion and an amendment. The amendment was that the 51 hours should commence at the Fair Holidays, and the motion was that September be the latest date that we be allowed to go to. The meeting carried the amendment—that is, the Fair Holidays; and that is how the matter stands at present.
The Chairman—I presume, then, that unless we can get further instructions from our constituents, the matter goes forward to arbitration, as suggested by Mr Elrick.
Mr Simpson—We laid fully before our meeting last night the arguments you used in favour of further time being allowed for the 51 hours to commence. The delegates who are now before you thought it right that they should not participate in the vote, and they therefore went to one side of the hall while the votes were being taken. There is no doubt that yesterday we had fuller powers than we have to-day; they left us open-handed to deal with the question; but last night, the motion that we should be allowed to go to September, was lost by a majority of 36 to 28. My own opinion about arbitration has not been altered since yesterday, and I still think it very desirable that we should attempt to settle our differences ourselves.
The Chairman—I quite agree with you, but you blamed the masters yesterday for drawing a hard and fast line, which we might have loosed to-day, had you not been fixed to a date at your meeting. I think, however, that a little more consideration of the matter, would bring the intelligent body of workmen whom you represent to give us a reasonable time to finish our contracts. From the feeling that was manifested at the meeting to-day, I think it should be left to your page 35 committee to try if they cannot get the men to come to a different conclusion; and if they should not see their way to do so, the question must go before the arbiters.
Mr Jamieson—There is a resolution before the meeting to go to arbitration. As I understand the matter, negociations are now at an end between these two committees, and it is for each of us to consider who would be a proper person to appoint as arbiter. The question that was brought up by us was that a fair and reasonable time should be allowed to complete existing contracts. I consider myself that the 1st of January was a very fair and reasonable time, so far as the workmen are concerned, although it was not at all what the masters would require. The contracts go far into the next year, and the very fact of the time being shortened at all puts the responsibility of the penalties much more hardly upon the employers, I think it was a very unfortunate contrast that was made at the Conference yesterday, when a comparison was made between the marine shops and those whose contracts can be completed in four or six months. There is nothing now between us. It is understood that we begin work at the 54 hours on the 1st of March, and everything goes on amicably, and it may go on for months. At least, there will be a cessation of hostilities up to the Fair holidays, and in the meantime, the arbiter will be preparing his decision. I know the loss will be very severe on the employers. The statement Mr Blackmore made at the last conference, about £130,000 being lost by this movement, seemed to be doubted, but that sum was far below my calculation of what the actual loss will be. The employers stretched a very great deal for the purpose of averting a lock-out or a strike, which, at the present time, would be very disastrous to the trade in this district. I am very sorry to see such a hard and fast line drawn by the workmen themselves.
Bailie Hamilton—Well, at the present time, 51 hours is the ultimatum. The employers have asked for a fair and reasonable time, not to be extended too far, and as matters have gone, I think it should be left in the hands of the arbiter.
Mr Simpson—In looking to the decision that the meeting of deligates came to last night, I may say it was from no want of confidence in their representatives. They looked at it in this light—they thought Mr Smith ought to have sent them word that a hard and fast line had been arrived at by the masters, so that the meeting of workmen's delegates would have known what to do, and saved the time that they considered was uselessly spent at the last conference. In regard to the loss of £130,000, we don't underrate the master's loss, but we do not look at it in the same light that the gentlemen on the other side do. I may state that, so far as we are concerned, the best course would be this. We are met to hear how far you can come to meet us. If you will show any inclination to come towards us, we will do everything we can to arrange the matter.
Mr A. Inolis—You are bound to the Fair holidays.
Mr Simpson—We are quite willing to hear what you propose.
Mr Jamieson—A resolution was unanimously come to to-day, that we should leave the matter to arbitration. I have no doubt that if the workmen had left you power to stretch a point last night, our committee might have got leave to settle the matter to-day. Unfortunately you have broken off negociations with the masters, so that there is no alternative but arbitration.
Mr Alison—I cannot see that we have broken off negociations.
The Chairman—I don't think there is any allegation of that kind.
Mr Jamieson—It is only the committees.
Mr Alison—There is nothing on our part meant to fix us down even to a day or a month. I think it was stated that we had stretched a point; now let us see how far you can stretch towards the point of our departure. When we said August we went beyond our instructions, and came to meet you as far as we could.
The Chairman—You see the basis of the question, as I take it, is that time is to be allowed for the completion of existing contracts. Now, those ponderous pieces of machinery that we construct, many of them take 12 months to be completed. Would you tell me by what magic you can make these machines by the 1st of May?
Mr Alison—One gentleman said the concessions were all on one side. I don't think that is altogether correct. I think we have made many concessions, and the page 36 reverse has been the case. At yesterday's conference it was generally understood that we were to endeavour to settle the question without arbitration, and here you have met us with a hard and fast line.
Mr Connor—The thing is all settled in favour of arbitration by our meeting to-day.
Mr Watson—I think you have a certain amount of powers yet, because I heard Mr Jamieson say so, if I am not mistaken.
Mr Jamieson—It was yesterday I referred to, and the utmost powers were given us then.
Mr Turnrull—Mr Chairman—Should our powers extend so far that we are to be the parties to concede the whole length of time to 1st January?
Mr Jamieson—Certainly. (No, no!)
The Chairman—When we understood from the newspapers that you were precluded from making an arrangement, we came to the conclusion that the only alternative was arbitration. I quite agree with you that it is a very desirable thing to avoid it, and possibly we might get instructions yet.
Mr Stephens—We took it upon ourselves at the last Conference to go the length of August. In doing so we came two months nearer your time, which was the 1st of January. Now, I think it was your duty, and perhaps it was the duty of the meeting you held to-day, to instruct you to come at least two months in our direction.
Mr Jamieson—I shall go as far back as the Newcastle strike, for it was through it the employers here saw it was very probable that the time would come when the agitation would come here also. After naming the 1st March as the time for the nine hours to come into force, we were prepared to concede it. The placards we issued remained unchallenged until the Short Time League sent in their circular. When there was some discussion about the matter, and when we could not agree, it was resolved to give 54 hours with 60 hours' pay. The League then said the 51 hours was what they were aiming at, but that they were willing to concede a certain amount of time when the 51 hours should begin. As the Dundee men were continuing their work at 57 hours until the short-time commenced, I had thought you would not object to have the whole of the trade placed upon the same footing; and that, agreeing to your arrangement, we should ask for a reasonable time so as to get rid of the heavy loss that would fall upon us by giving the 51 hours immediately. We have conceded the 54 hours at the present time, and, surely when you are going to get the 51 hours, it would not be too much to ask that you give us until the end of December to prepare for the change.
Mr Stephens—I think there is a point that has been lost sight of in your remarks bearing upon the workmen's side of the question. The employers agreed to give 54 hours, with the present wages and a rise of 5 per cent., if the workmen would drop their demand for the 51 hours. The 5 per cent, would amount to a good round sum of money. If the workmen would accede to our terms, we might be even willing to abandon 5 per cent, to have the 51 hours.
The Chairman—Then, the question again comes to be what is a reasonable time to finish existing contracts?
Mr Connor—The 5 per cent, was offered merely for the purpose of getting time to complete the work and provide against incurring penalties. The shipowners wont relax those penalties.
Mr Simpson—I think it right to inform you that at our meeting the idea of arbitration was not very favourably entertained.
Mr Anthony Inglis—Did not your Secretary ask for arbitration?
Mr Simpson—Yes; but I am stating the feeling of the meeting.
Mr Turnbull—I am quite sure that if the employers had mot us in the same way that we have met them, the matter would have been settled last night. If the employers would only show an inclination to come and meet us a little way, we could report so to our meeting, and I have no doubt there would be some-means used to arrive at a decision.
Mr Anthony Inglis—We have come to a fast resolution, and we won't abate one iota of it.page 37
Mr Simpson—I do not think Mr Inglis should speak in that way. He is in the fortunate position, according to his statement, that all his men are in favour of the 54 hours, but such is not the case with a large number of the firms. I think the importance of the question demands that we should give it our earnest attention. We have the power, and are prepared to take the responsibility of going to our constituents and saying this is the best bargain that, in the circumstances, we can make for you, and I have no doubt at all that they would accept it.
Mr A. Paton (Greenock)—The resolution for arbitration did not originate with the employers, but proceeded upon a proposal made by yourselves. When it was indicated at our meeting that the proposal for arbitration had come from the other side, it was thought, well, if the men have suggested it, by all means let them have it, and the meeting was quite at one that the dispute should be settled by arbitration since the men wished it.
Mr Simpson—I can assure you, Mr Chairman, I am heartily sick of this business altogether, and I suggest that you let us know at once how far you are willing to go with us. We shall let you know how far we think it is just for us to go, and when our constituents meet to-night, we shall lay the matter fairly and honestly before them. I believe there is an anxious desire on our side to have the dispute finally settled to-night. I believe that, from the confidence that has been placed in us all along, we might safely enter into a final agreement at this meeting.
The Chairman was about to speak, when
Mr Anthony Inglis said—I object to you making any statement about the matter. You cannot go beyond what you have been authorised to do, and the other side are also bound by the resolution of their meeting.
Mr Jamieson—Seeing that the two committees could not come to terms, and that their several meetings have adopted resolutions, it appears to me that the thing is taken entirely out of their hands; and I think what we have to do now is to arrange about an arbiter, and the dispute will be arranged in some way or other satisfactory to the parties.
Mr Stephens—I am of opinion that arbitration would entail a great loss of time upon both sides, and after the whole question had been fully gone into, the arbiter might take some time to arrive at his decision. I know that there is a good number of the workpeople that would be prepared to go past the hard and fast line rather than submit to arbitration.
Mr Lawrie—Will any of these men say that they solemnly believe the contracts on the Clyde will be finished by the 1st of September. If any one of them says so, then I can credit him with believing that he is proposing what is fair.
Mr Alison—We had no voice in the taking of the contracts; we have a voice only in the selling of our labour. I apprehend this gentleman has really mistaken his argument.
The Chairman—The understanding was that time should be given to complete the contracts.
Mr Alison—We think there should at least be a division between the times mentioned by you and by us.
Mr Anthony Inglis—Do you think that September is half of the time?
Mr Alison—What I think is that we have come so far, and you have made no concession whatever.
Mr Paton—I would only explain that the contracts of the house with which I am connected cannot be completed within twenty-one months.
Mr Alison—It is no part of my business how long the contracts will last. I am perfectly certain that the gentlemen present are as able to look after their interests as I am. All we can do in the matter is to try to meet each other. We endeavoured to do so yesterday, and I am sorry that you do not feel inclined to do so to-day.
Mr Lawrie—Perhaps Mr Simpson will kindly say whether he thinks the 1st of September will allow a reasonable time to finish the contracts?
Mr Simpson—It so happens that Mr Simpson does not look at or expect the results that you anticipate. If you could convince me that such results would follow as you say, I should say that September was not a reasonable time. I hold, page 38 however, that such results would not follow, and I have satisfied my own mind, and the minds of a good many people outside, on that point.
Mr Connor—It is quite clear that there is no use in remarks like these. The only way to do, if Mr Simpson cannot see it, is to get some person to decide between the parties. We have no powers to alter what was done at the meeting to-day.
Mr Jamieson—I am very sorry that the Committee does not possess powers to settle the matter; but I find from Mr Simpson's own words that he recommended that the masters should be informed that the men were willing to grant them a reasonable time to complete their contracts, and, if they could not agree, the question could be referred to arbitration. That was the state of matters at the beginning of the week, when the whole thing was likely to end in fire and blood, as I may say.
Mr Simpson—That is quite correct. These, I think, were my very words. But, mind you, if you resort to arbitration this difficulty will arise, and I warn you of it—will you find an arbiter in whom both employers and workmen will have confidence? When I suggested arbitration, I did it in good faith; but when I saw the feeling of the meeting last night, I did not think it was the best thing we could do. I would just say again that you should say how far you can go.
Mr Anthony Inglis—We have no power to do it, and we cannot do it. We have come to a conclusion, and we will abide by it.
The Chairman—Anything that is done here must be done in temper. It appears to me there has been some misunderstanding of the matter, perhaps, upon both sides. I believe our meeting to-day would have given us all the powers required had they not considered that you had fixed upon a date that you were prepared to stand by, leaving only the alternative of arbitration. I suggest that we should do to-morrow or Monday what we have done to-day, and get another meeting of our constituents.
Bailie Hamilton—I think, as the Chairman has said, there has been a misunderstanding, and surely a misunderstanding can be put right. (Hear, hear.) We have no powers just now to go beyond the 1st of January; but, if we had another meeting of our constituents on both sides, we might obtain the requisite powers.
Mr Alison—It certainly was my impression at the close of the last Conference that the employers were against arbitration, and that it was entirely thrown up. Several of you remarked that it was not a good thing, and that it would be far better if we could do without it. We said we would use every endeavour on our part to settle the question, and to-day you have met us with a hard and tast line.
Mr Paton—We came to that line of action suggested by yourselves, and I really think it unfair to call it a hard and fast line. At the same time, the difficulties pointed out by Mr Simpson in regard to arbitration are not to be overlooked. I came to the meeting of employers to-day with my mind set against arbitration; but as no other thing seemed to be agreed to by the men, I thought it should be resorted to.
Mr Jamieson—What we have to do now is to appoint an arbiter, and I think we should select a gentleman on each side by whom this should be done.
Mr Crichton—If it is impossible to proceed further to-day, I think, as the Chairman has said, there should be another meeting. There is sufficient time yet to correct any misunderstanding; and certainly, in the opinion of the workmen's deputation present, we can settle the question far better, and, perhaps, far sooner, than it could be done by arbitration.
Mr Simpson—I think it would have only been true courtesy to have apprised us of the terms of the resolution you had come to which were sent to the papers. As I said before, it was from no want of confidence in their representatives that the delegates did not agree to the motion, but rather from a feeling that they had not been properly dealt with.
Mr Lawrie—I would suggest that in the present circumstances we should let bygones be bygones, and afford the workmen an opportunity to-night to consider what would be a sufficient time to allow their employers to finish existing contracts.
Mr Simpson—Our difficulties are increasing every day. Messrs Mirrlees, Tait & Watson, and the Messrs M'Onie, have come to terms with their workmen, and you are aware that another calamity has happened to-day. These men are repre- page 39 sented at our meetings, but every day is increasing the difficulty and making a settlement more difficult.
Bailie Hamilton—Now, I would take notice of that remark of yours. I took, notice of it at the first conference. Suppose we should all do as they have done, what would be the consequence? Don't you see it is a subterfuge?
Mr Turnbull—There is a matter which was refered to at a previous conference, with regard to which I wish to make an explanation. Mr Dubs did not say, as was stated, that he would give the 51 hours as soon as any of the other shops gave it,. but the men stated that they believed he would do so. I make this explanation because Mr Dubs has heard of the matter, and was displeased.
Mr Crichton—I know two or three employers in Glasgow who have not been at all alarmed at the idea of the 51 hours. I refer you for one to Mr Smith of the Sun Foundry, and I may inform you that the firm of Messrs P. & W. M'Lellan has gone even further and offered 50, provided the men would allow the day to be arranged as they wished it.
Mr Connor—I think that allusion to Mr Smith of the Sun Foundry is entirely out of place, because it is well known that his is a piece-work shop. A statement like this is, therefore, a delusion and a snare; it is altogether misleading. Mr Smith got up on the stump and talked a lot of stuff to his men, but who does not know that every man of them is working on the piece.
Mr Jamieson—I think, Mr Chairman, that it is a pity that we cannot settle this question much more easily. I fully expected when I got into the meeting that I would get away in 10 or 12 minutes altogether. We had come to an arrangement previously with the Secretary of the Workmen's League that if we could not agree upon the time when the 51 hours should commence it should be left to a neutral party. The neutral party is neither going to take advantage of you nor me, but to give an equitable decision, and I do not see why there should be any dispute about his appointment.
Mr Stephens—My own opinion is that we are bound to accept arbitration if the employers force it upon us.
Mr Jamieson—The 51 hours has been conceded to you, and the only difference between us is as to when it is to begin. There is no use of us getting into a bad temper. We are all working together; if we do not pull we lead—(laughter)—let us look around on both sides and see if we can get a man to settle our differences. Let me caution you against the very wish of interference with the fortnightly pays, because I think that weekly pays would be a decided disadvantage; certainly to the employers it would be a very great annoyance. The saving man is very much fonder of 5s than 2s 6d, because the latter sum dribbles away much more quickly. If a man has got £1 in his pocket, he will go much easier to the savings bank than if it were less. If he had only 10s he might wish to keep it until it were more, but by the end of the week he would find it had come down to at least 7s 6d. To the workman that is not well inclined there can be no doubt at all that the weekly pays would just give him two "drinks" in the fortnight instead of one. The well-doing man can easily want his wages for a fortnight, and I would impress upon you that weekly pays would only be an annoyance to the employer.
Mr Turnbull—I have been in receipt of weekly pays for the last two months, and I can safely say that my money goes farther by the week than it did by the fortnight. In some of the shops there is a great deal of lying time, and at present men coming into the shops have sometimes to wait three weeks before getting their pay. The fact is, that weekly payments suit the workmen far better, because they can go and buy their provisions with ready-money and not run into debt, and in this way they can live cheaper and better. I firmly believe that weekly pays are really the best for the workmen, and at the first Conference the employers then met were quite agreeable to grant them. Even Mr Inglis was quite agreeable to grant the pay every night if the workmen wished it.
Mr A. Inglis—I will tell you what I meant by that; there are some of our men so improvident that they spend all their money and will not go home without it. If a man is in steady work and cannot want his wages for a fortnight, what is he to do when sickness comes. A man should always be a week ahead with his money, and then he can go and buy what he likes.page 40
Mr Simpson—There is no point in the circular on which I place more importance than that of weekly pays. I don't claim weekly pays for the improvident, because I think that to the improvident man who is in the habit of going to the public-house the seldomer he gets his pays the better. It is for the sober man we want the weekly pays, that he may not have to take credit. I advocate this claim not so much for ourselves as for the lower paid workmen. Mr Inglis's advice is an excellent one, that the working man should always be a week ahead, but sometimes the sober working man is obliged through misfortune to run into debt. When once into debt in a shop, he can very seldom get out of it, because when the shops get a hold of him, they take care to keep it. I see that Mr Winterbotham introduced a Bill last night into the House of Commons to make weekly pays imperative in some trades.
Mr Paton—Much could be said for and against weekly pays, but I think it might be quite well left to the different shops to settle it in their own way. If you take the firm I represent, you would find that weekly payments would come to be a very difficult and expensive thing. It is now twenty-five years since I began to deal with workmen and my experience convinces me that there are many things to be said against the system of weekly pays.
Mr Jamieson—I think that each employer should do with the question as it best suits him.
Bailie Hamilton—My experience is this; we have one lying day, but you are quite well aware that it is a very serious matter to make up 500 or 600 men's wages. I have known our clerks to be up all night as it is arranging the pays, and weekly payments would add very much to their labours.
Mr Simpson—Thatisthebest argument that has been advanced against weekly pays.
Bailie Hamilton—I quite agree with Mr Inglis that the working man should be a week or a fortnight a-head. It comes to this, that if the men got weekly pays those of them who do not pay ready money would just be a week behind. My experience of arrestments is that they do not come against labouring men or low paid men, but against the better paid men.
Mr Jamieson—I think that time-and-a-half is a very good thing, and we will not work much of it at that rate.
Mr Stephens—Only when it will be needed.
Mr Jamieson—If it will be necessary, it must be on account of this short-time movement. The sums mentioned by Mr Blackmore at the last Conference as the loss that would fall upon the masters would be but a drop in the bucket compared with what we would have to pay.
Mr Simpson—Am I to understand that the question of weekly pays is to be left to be decided by a majority of the workmen in the different shops?
Mr A. Inglis—I understand that every shop is to be left to do as it likes. Suppose I were to obtain a minority in my shop in favour of weekly pays, am I not to be allowed to grant it if so inclined?
Mr Simpson—If you find a shop where a number of workmen want it, I think it would be a great benefit to them; and, gentlemen, with all due respect to you, the man that has the least pay is the best judge in this matter.
Mr Paton—In works where there are only 500 or 600 hands the weekly pays might not be a very difficult matter, but where there are from 4000 to 5000 men the difficulties are very greatly multiplied.
Mr Crichton—In regard to the question of overtime, there are certain matters which I should like to be clearly understood. Is it meant that there is to be no allowance, but merely time and a-half? because, if there is to be no allowance, it will be a decided loss to those men whose wages do not exceed £1 per week. A man receiving 18s per week would lose just 3½d per night by the bargain you offer us.
Mr Jamieson—That, I think, is little better than an idea. After 54 hours are worked for the week, I should say pay time and a-half overtime.
Mr Stephens—What do you say about apprentices?
Mr Jamieson—I don't think we should legislate for apprentices. They are learning their profession. My impression is that we don't pay them as we should, but we do not refer to that.page 41
Mr Crichton—I did not refer to apprentices, but to a very large body of men—I mean hammermen.
Mr A. Inglis—I don't think a hammerman is a hard-wrought man at all. When I was a hammerman we blew the bellows and struck with the hammer too, but no such thing is done now. It is all bosh to talk about hard-wrought hammermen.
Mr Simpson—I am happy, Mr Chairman, that those hard times to which Mr Inglis has alluded, when the hammermen had to blow the bellows and strike with the hammer at the same time, do not now exist. (Laughter.)
Mr Alison—At the first Conference my impression was that the employers were in favour of weekly pays. About the overtime, Mr Steele said that the allowance money would be no obstacle. Bailie Hamilton stated, if I am not mistaken, that he was quite willing to grant weekly pays.
Bailie Hamilton—I never bound other parties to that, but said I was in favour of weekly pays.
The Chairman—If I remember aright, the discussion on the occasion of the first Conference was to the effect that if the 51 hours and the overtime were settled there would be no difficulty about anything else.
Mr Simpson—You are perfectly correct.
Mr Jamieson—In Newcastle the workmen are only getting time and a-quarter overtime, and here we are offering considerably better terms than have been arranged in that district. I think, therefore, we have made you a very liberal offer. I went into the matter of allowance and overtime very carefully, and I find, that there is not a very great difference either the one way or the other, but it gave the advantage to the workmen, and simplified the keeping of the employers" books.
Mr Simpson—It appears to me, Mr Chairman, that we are indulging in a great deal of unnecessary repetition. If we had the same gentlemen here at every Conference, many of these questions would not have arisen to-day. Mr Hamilton did say that owing to the people troubling him on "blin' Saturday," there would be very little more difficulty in paying weekly than in doing so fortnightly. In regard to the overtime, the object of the frames of the resolutions contained in our circular was to put a penalty upon overtime for the purpose of making it cease to be wrought. In the shop where I am employed we have not wrought any overtime for a long time; but when it was wrought I have sometimes thought there was very nearly as much work done in the ten hours as when we had to work two hours overtime.
Mr A. Inglis—You talk about penalties, but I hold it is nonsense to put penalties upon anyone.
Mr Paton—I sympathise very much with what Mr Simpson has said about overtime, but I think it is very imprudent to press us at a time like this with too many difficulties. Time-and-a-half is, I think, as much as you should press for the present moment.
Mr Turnbull—There is one thing which I must be allowed to call attention to I think it is only fair that the workman should have a reasonable time to get tea, and that he should be paid for that time. For myself, to get back in an hour, I should have to 'bus it both ways; and I don't consider it fair that a man should be called upon to work at night without being allowed time to go home and get his meals.
Mr Jamieson—Is that not the practice in the trade?
Mr Paton—With us it is.
Mr Jamieson—It is in my work now.
Mr Turnbull—I will give you a reason why I put the question. A circular that Mr Jamieson caused to be put upon the gate of his work contained the words, "No allowance in time or money."
Mr Jamieson—I allow it was rather obtuse and obscure that thing; there is not the least doubt about that. It is an extraordinary thing that the circular was no sooner up than the error was noticed in regard to this point. What it was meant to express was that there was to be no overtime or allowance of the kind that we have done away with, and that there was only to be time-and-a-half for all overtime.page 42
Bailie Hamilton—My understanding was that this time-and-a-half was to cover the allowance and the time that used to be allowed; but I don't see that we should stick to any hard and fast line.
Mr A. Inglis—Everyone can arrange with his own men.
Bailie Hamilton—The delegates are sent here by a large body of men, and they want to know if they are to get time, and the question is whether you are to allow them time to get their meals or not. I should say that you should allow time.
Mr Stephens—It should be understood that it is to be the custom of our shops as at present.
Mr Lawrie—It appears, then, that we have got over all our difficulties except one; and if the workmen's delegates go back to the men and try to arrange for coming nearer the masters' time, we might do the same on our side.
Mr Simpson—I would much rather it was that way.
Mr A. Inglis—We cannot do that, because we have agreed to arbitration.
Mr Turnbull—There is one point to be considered in the circular yet, gentlemen—that holidays be considered as overtime.
Mr Jamieson—I think there is one thing that should be made an exception, and that is when repairing our own works. I quite agree that if a man is required to work at ordinary work at the time of holidays, he should get overtime.
Mr Simpson—Allow me to remark, Mr Jamieson, that the last holidays in our shop was paid as overtime.
The Chairman—It is of so little account that I do not think we need arrange about it.
Mr Turnbull—It is a matter of much importance to working men who wish to get away to visit their friends during the holidays; because, at that time, they can get return railway fares at cheap rates. If they are prevented from taking advantage of the facilities afforded by the holidays, it appears to me to be only just that they should be compensated for that loss.
Mr Jamieson—I would suggest that you should insert the words "when working at contract work, and not when repairing machinery."
Mr Watson—I think that is a very fair suggestion of Mr Jamieson's.
Mr Turnbull—I am very happy that we have got through the circular, and I am only sorry that we are going to part without arranging the date for the commencement of the 51 hours. I think we could meet that difficulty yet, if we were only to try in earnest. We are ready to endeavour to ascertain, if possible, what length our constituents will go, if you would be willing to do the same on your side, so that both of us may get additional powers.
The Chaikman—But, can we do so?
Mr Jamieson—It appears to me that we are fairly committed to arbitration.
Mr A. Inglis—If these gentlemen choose to send notice to you, Mr Chairman, or the employers here, regarding what they are willing to do to save the necessity for arbitration, we might consider such a proposal; but if we proposed any other terms than those we have been instructed to do, I don't think they would be agreed to.
Mr Stephens—I think we should go to our people and say the thing is to be .sent to arbitration, and if you don't come some time nearer what is proposed on the other side, it must be resorted to. In this way each side would ascertain how far they were inclined to go to save arbitration.
Mr Jamieson—If the workmen named their arbiter, we might be satisfied with him, and there would be no further trouble.
Mr Lawrie—Yes; if the workmen named an arbiter, some inquiry could be made in reference to him, and if we were satisfied, the thing would be all right.
Mr A. Inglis—Is there nobody in Glasgow that would do it?
Mr Simpson—Well, the idea is new to us, but the matter might be sooner .settled in that way.
The Chairman—There were two names that occurred to me this afternoon—Mr M'Ewen (late Dean of Guild) and Sheriff Bell.
Mr Jamieson—I consider it would be well to think over the matter, and suggest one on either side.
Bailie Hamilton—There is this other consideration, that perhaps an arbiter may not be required.page 43
The Chairman—I have mentioned those names that occurred to me; but very likely when we come to appoint an arbiter, we will have got authority to settle the dispute without resorting to arbitration at all.
Mr Watson—It appears to me that if the question went to arbitration it would take at least about five months.
The Chairman—When we meet to appoint an arbiter, I think it is very likely we shall meet to render his appointment unnecessary.
The Conference then separated.
Engineers' Committee Rooms, 182 Trongate, February 26, 1872.
J. P. Smith, Esq.
At a General Committee meeting of our League to-night, in Plumbers' Hall Nelson Street, reports were submitted from the various meetings held to-day in the several workshops.
The workmen are unanimous in their decision to allow our committee full power to make a settlement with the committee of employers, by making whatever concession they consider the circumstances may warrant.—I am, yours truly,
Thos. R. Elrick, Secy.
Clyde Shipbuilders' and Engineers' Association, 67 Renfield Street Glasgow 27th Feb., 1872.
I am in receipt of yours of yesterday, communicating the decision of the workmen to entrust their delegates with full powers to come to a settlement.
Mr Smith will not be in town before to-morrow, but your letter will be laid before the meeting of employers to-morrow.—I am, yours faithfully,
Mr Thos. R. Elrick, 182 Trongate.