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the clamour for the Ten-hour factory Bill; and we assert, with the most unlimited confidence in the accuracy of our statement, that the advocacy of that Bill among the workmen, was neither more or less than a trick to raise wages—a trick too of the clumsiest description, since it is quite plain that no legislative enactment, whether of ten or any other number of hours, could save it from signal failure. One of the most extensive Unions in the kingdom is that formed by the workmen of the Building trades; and it may have been said to have exhausted all the resources of combination, in an endeavour to gain its end. In 1833 this body commenced operations in Manchester, Liverpool, and the neighbouring towns, by giving notice to the masters to abolish the custom of contracts. As this was of much more consequence to their customers than to themselves, the masters complied. But the imperious mode in which the demand was made, will appear from the following specimen. We give a letter sent to Mr. Holmes, a respectable Liverpool builder: SIR,-In consequence of an information received by our Society that your job in Canning-street is a contract job, we felt ourselves in duty bound to furnish your men at that job with a Notice to that effect; and in consequence of such contract, to leave that building directly. You will please to understand, that previous to their return, we require to see your contract in our club-room, to be examined by our Committee appointed for that purpose. When we receive that information, we shall be happy to be Your most obedient humble servants, The Operative Societies of Bricklayers. (Corresponding Secretary.)
Mr. Leatham, a master mason at Liverpool, having discharged a workman, the Committee suspected that he had done so from the man's supposed activity in managing the affairs of the combination; they sent him a letter ordering him to appear before the Committee the same evening, to explain his conduct. He returned for answer, that the cause alleged for his discharging this man was untrue; but this was deemed unsatisfactory, and the next day he was left without a single workman. We will mention another instance of the spirit and extent of this monstrous and unconstitutional combination. Messrs. Pattisons, masons at Manchester, disch a couple of men because they refused to work at a building at which bricklayers not belonging to the Union were employed. They received in consequence a remonstrance from the Union, of which the following is an extract : “It is considered that your conduct towards Robinson and Whitaker is quite inconsistent, and to be brief, unless you take them again into your employ, on Saturday the 8th inst. at one o'clock, all your hands will withdraw themselves on that night from your service, and so remain until you do reinstate the above-mentioned R. and W.; and further that each and every one in such strike shall be paid by you the sum of four shillings per day for every day you refuse to comply.” Messrs. Pattison of course refused to comply with this order, and the next day every Unionist in their employ left them. The Union of Painters agreed not to work for any gentleman who found his own materials. The style of their edicts is as magniloquent as if it came from the Celestial Empire. “We consider," says one of their despatches, “that as you have not treated our rules with that deference you ought to have done, we consider you highly culpable, and deserve to be highly chastised.” In many instances, no confidence of a workman in his employer, no respect or attachment, not even a service of thirty or forty years, has been found strong enough to prevent him assisting in these tyrannical and abominable proceedings. The masters finding concession of no avail, refused to employ any workmen belonging to those Unions; the consequence was, the building operations of Manchester and Liverpool were stopt for sir months; the consumption of bricks was reduced from a million to twenty-thousand weekly; and one builder alone said that he had paid 11,000l. less in duties on timber, and 800l. less on bricks that year than the year before, in consequence of this tremendous stoppage. The returns to the Excise in that quarter showed a diminution of 183,740l. At this time the workmen were earning from 24s. to 35s. aweek. It was endeavoured to procure fresh workmen from other parts of England, but it failed; as the shops of the masters were constantly watched by picquets of three or four men, and new labourers were prevented by fearful menaces from applying for employment. In the meantime, the Builders determined to form a general Union. A scheme of representative government was drawn up, members were chosen, and the inhabitants of Manchester were astonished by the holding of a Builders' PARLIAMENT. Two hundred and seventy-five delegates, representing a constituency of 30,000, walked arm-in-arm through the streets. Their dress, and mode of living, both of the best, showed the resources of the body. oie next important occurrence in the history of these combinations, was the proposal to found, near the centre of the island, a Guildhall, from which the Government of the Unions, established in all the forms of regal power, was to issue laws to its subjects in other parts of the empire. Birmingham was selected, and on the 5th of December last, the commencement of the design was made. On that day, deputations from the different divisions of the Trades marched in procession, accompanied with banners and music, and proceeded to lay the first stone of an edifice, whose grandeur on paper showed the expectations they formed of its future greatness. The design is magnificent. The first floor contains a room for public meetings, 78 ft. long, by 30 ft. wide, and 24 ft. high, and on which all the painter's and carver's art is said to be displayed. The other parts of the building are appropriated to rooms for Committees, Schools; and Lectures; and such labourers as are unemployed in consequence of strikes, are engaged for the execution of the work. The Lancashire workmen, whom we mentioned before, persisted in their strike for six months, when, there being no prospect of their masters acceding to their terms, they returned at their old wages to their old work; but they paid dearly for their folly. During the summer, the best part of the year, they had remained idle. They lived upon the allowance doled out to them from the fund; this amounted to 18,000l., and as the sum allowed never amounts to more than a fourth of the earnings of labour, no less than 72,000l. were thus lost to these infatuated conspirators. Even their wretchedness did not cease when their combination ended, for fresh labourers and machinery had filled their vacant places; habits of idleness added to their degradation, and they will not soon, it is said, forget the sufferings they underwent, and the losses they sustained. The following is the oath which every member is required to take: “I do, before Almighty God, and this loyal Lodge, most solemnly swear, that I will not work for any master that is not in the Union, nor will I work with any 1LLEGAL man or men, but will do my best for the support of wages; and most solemnly swear to keep inviolate all the secrets of the Order. Nor will I ever consent to have any money for any purpose but for the use of the Lodge and the support of the trade. Nor will I write, or cause to be wrote, print, mark, either on stone, marble, brass, paper or sand, anything connected with this Order, so help me God,
and keep me stedfast in this my present obligation; and I further promise to do my best to bring all legal men (i. e. men connected with this Union) that I am connected with, into this order; and if I ever reveal any of the rules, may what is before me plunge my soul into eternity.”
Such are some of the Lancashire and West Country Unions.
We have now a word or two to say on those in Yorkshire. They be about three years ago among the cloth-manufactory workmen. The largest manufactory in Leeds, that of Messrs. Gott, first felt the shock of the new power that had come into action. They had just completed an enormous building intended for the weaving of fine woollen cloth, and every thing had been prepared for commencing business, when all the weavers turned out, to the number of 210. The men were then receiving 17s. weekly, the general pay: the pretended cause was the inferiority of their wages; the real, was to make a trial of the power of the Union. This particular establishment was selected, both from its extent, as well as from the supposition that, as the proprietors had so recently expended so large a sum in new buildings, they would not let that rest idle, but would submit to their demands. Messrs. Gott, however, were too wise to yield to this intimidation. They left their new and magnificent building unused; they disposed of all the machinery; and this fine structure, 136 yards in length, now stands in useless grandeur, untenanted by a single piece of machinery, or one human being, a melancholy monument of the disastrous effect produced by the first exercise of the power of the Leeds Union.
The Union next set forth a scale of prices and wages to be paid for spinning and weaving, which was printed and sent to the mill-owners and manufacturers. It was headed, “A Scale of Prices to be observed by Millowners and Manufacturers.” The greater part of the masters acceded to these demands, and their names were carefully set forth in the Leeds papers. The men, however, as usual, did not profit by their deeds of violence. Cloth was sent to be woven in the villages, where the price of work is always lower than in the towns; and a smaller quantity also was made, so that numbers of them were turned out of employ. The men's wages, who were employed, were reduced from 17s. to 7s., and the spinners from 27s. to 10s. ; after three months' endurance, they petitioned their masters to recommence manufacturing as before. One master got parish children to supply the place of the weavers that turned out; they went to the overseer, and threatened him, if he did not prevent the children working in the interdicted factory; he yielded, and the children were withdrawn, and the parish had to pay the whole cost of their maintenance, because such was the pleasure of the Leeds Associated Weavers.
A manufacturer who had been forced to change the method of paying his men, was treated with an instance of oppression which could hardly be exceeded by that of an Eastern despot. As soon as he had discovered the loss he sustained on account of the small quantity of work performed by his men on the plan of weekly wages, he naturally complained to the Committee, upon which he was ordered to keep no books, and to this ertraordinary command he was obliged to yield submission. Sometimes for the most trifling causes, sometimes without any that can be ascertained, the men will turn out for the purpose of embarrassing the master when business is active, or orders have to be completed without loss of time. The manufacturer was punished with a turn-out of eight days, because he discharged a workman for negligence.
Improvements in machinery are much discouraged by the Unionists. In one manufactory an improved gig, a machine used for making cloth, was lately introduced from Manchester, with the design of substituting its operation for one entirely manual. Upon this, delegates were sent from Leeds to Manchester, who waited on the inventor, and told him that if he sent out any inore of these machines, the Union would prevent their use, by ordering a strike against any master who should introduce them. The reason of their hostility was, that it would supersede a class of workmen, the last relic of the Croppers, who in 1811 and 1812 caused so much disturbance in the West Riding. These men are the most restless in the cloth trade, and the ringleaders in all strikes. The Committee, though possessing the apparent power, are yet really under the constant command of the Association. A strike is always popular: if the Committee do not approve it, their motives are suspected, and they are said to be in league with the masters. Consequently opposition to the proposal is always dangerous, and the Committee being thus confined to measures of hostility, and * for purposes of restraint, may be said to exist almost wholly for evil. In the worsted trade, the same combination existed as in the woollen. A most remarkable strike took place last year in the establishment of Messrs. Hindes and Derham, by which more than 1000 workmen were thrown out of employ. The turn-out ended in the complete discomfiture of the men. Workmen were obtained from the neighbouring agricultural districts; actions were brought at Lancaster Assizes against the Unionists, to dispossess them of the houses they rented under their employers, and inore than 4000l. were spent by the Union in this unsuccessful contest. This remarkable strike occasioned the invention of the woolcombing machine, which has superseded the labour of the ringleaders in this strike, and has struck a blow at their combination, which they never can recover, for the manufacturers are now in a great measure free from the dictation of their men. These Unions hold out to the men who join them advantages which they never fulfil. The regulations say, that each member is to pay 3d. weekly, and receive 10s. or 12s. a-week, when out of work; but, instead of that, the weekly contribution is sometimes 1s., 2s., or 3s. a-week, and the allowance, on a strike, the merest pittance that a man can subsist on. There is also a circumstance connected with these Unions that seems to prevent their ever accumulating or preserving a large capital. If a man does not pay up his subscription, he receives nothing on a strike; but if he receives nothing, he must again join his employer, and the object of the strike is defeated : hence he is supported, and the funds consequently drained. In the cash account of the Worsted Union, for the year 1833, the receipts were about 3000l. and the expenditure about 201, more. The forms and ceremonies of the Union are of the most awful description. Workmen have been known not to have recovered their composure of mind for weeks after their initiation into them. When the Magistrates of Exeter made a forcible entry into an apartment of that city, where the rites of a Builders' Union were proceeding, men were discovered with their eyes bandaged, a skeleton, sword, and battleare, Bible, and other paraphernalia, were there found. A London engineer who entered an Union last year, was so overcome by the appalling and awful, and, we add, wicked ceremonies he went through at his admission, that he was literally deprived of reason, and died in the agonies of raving madness " The oaths, as now adminisGENT. MAG. Vol. I. 4 D
tered, are blasphemous and horrible, but they were more strongly worded a year past. In Dec. 1832, a murder was committed in the neighbourhood of Leeds, on a man who had refused to join in a turn-out of the Clothiers' Union. In the commission of the crime, the members of the Union were strongly implicated, and a witness who had belonged to the Union, the father of the murdered man, gave an account of the manner of making members. From what he said, it appears that the oath which he took, included a more dreadful imprecation on the head of the taker, should he violate it, than that above given. The publication of this evidence excited in the public mind great disgust; and in the next meeting of the Union, a resolution was passed to change the form of oath. It is not known what the words were before the alteration; but it may be conjectured that they did not much differ from one used by a political society at Glasgow in 1817. If this supposition is correct, the Yorkshire oath before the murder must have contained a clause by which the taker of it invoked on himself, should he prove false, “the punishment of death, to be inflicted on him by an member or members of the society." The reading of the 94th Psalm sometimes forms part of the ceremonies of admission, a Psalm of which the title is “Deus ultionum,” and which calls in the strongest language for the infliction of the Almighty vengeance on transgressors; that is, in this case, the employers. The following most atrocious oath was taken by the Spinners in Scotland, in 1823: “I, A.B. do voluntarily swear, in the awful presence of Almighty God, and before these witnesses, that I will execute with zeal and alacrity, as far as in me lies, any task or injunction which the majority of my brethren shall impose upon me, in furtherance of our common welfare, as the chastisement of knobs, the assassination of oppressive or tyrannical masters, or the demolition of shops that shall be deemed incorrigible; and also that I will cheerfully contribute to the support of any brethren as shall lose their work in consequence of their exertions against tyranny, or renounce it in resistance to a reduction of wages; and I do further swear that I will never divulge the above obligation, unless I shall have been duly authorized and appointed
to administer the same to persons making application for admission, or to persons constrained to become members of our fraternity.”
The crime of murder cannot be proved certainly against the Yorkshire Union; but there is strong presumptive evidence of it. It took place at Farsley near Leeds, in Dec. 1832. The murdered man had become obnoxious to the Union, by refusing to join in a strike; and though the charge could not be proved against the members, the circumstances told so strongly against them, that the jury gave in their verdict, “They had too much reason to fear that his murder had been the consequence of fidelity to his master." On the night of the murder the Union had had a long and violent discussion, which lasted from six to eleven. At half-past eight the object of their hatred was attacked in a lane by between 30 and 40 persons, and beaten to death with clubs; not one of these ruffians ever made a sign of their guilt, and the perpetrators are still undiscovered. In the course of three years, in Dublin, ten lives were lost in consequence of combinations; and in no one instance were the murderers brought to justice. In almost all instances, these combinations have effected a reduction of wages, and not a rise. The shipwrights at Liverpool struck for an advance, and having continued idle near half a year, returned to their work at a reduction of 5 per cent. The hatters in London struck in 1820, deAmanding an increase of one shilling on a dozen hats. They staid three