The Lancashire Strikes - Rishton 1862

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6 THE DISTRESS IN LANCASHIRE.â€"A good sum has been received by the Lord Mayor of London on behalf of the distressed operatives in Lancashire. At many places the distress seems to be still on the increase. In Blackburn, and the district of four miles around, including Witton, Livesay, Church, Great Harwood, Over and Lower Darwin, Clayton-le-Moors, Eccleshill, Rishton, Tockholes, and Yate, and Pickup Bank, it is computed that there are 1540 mills and weaving sheds, which, in prosperous times, employ nearly 40,000 operatives. Of these mills, 16 are working full time; 13, five days per week 46, four days; 38, three and a half days; 17, three days; one, two days; and 23 stopped. In the 23 which are closed, 8,459 are entirely thrown out of employment, while about 20,000 are engaged four, five, and six days per week, and another 10,000 operatives only two, three, and three and a half days per week. In other words, there are nearly 20,000 operatives wholly or partially unemployed, representing nearly 40,000 of a population, who are more or less dependent on parochial or other relief for the bare necessaries of life.

4 DISTRESS IN BLACKBURN. We have to report a further increase of destitution in the town and union of Blackburn. The relief committee have distributed during the week 14,751lb. of bread, and 14,040lbs. of oatmeal, as against 11,OOOlbs. of bread and 10,500lbs. of meal in the previous week, at a cost of about £ 170. Through the agency of the parochial authorities there were relieved last week in the Blackburn district alone, no fewer than 7,5i0 persons, at a cost of X440 Is. 2d.; being an increase, as compared with the previous week, of 111 recipients, and of X22 12s. 2d. in cost. In the corresponding week of last year, about 1,600 were relieved with about £78. In the Oswaldtwislle district, 901 persons were relieved with 14.5 10s; and in the Darwin district, 973, with X-41 14s. 3d.; while, in the whole union, no fewer than 9,014 were relieved, at a cost of X529 5s. ad., being an increase on the previous week of 187 recipients, and £ 27 10s. in cost. The relief fund has, during the week, been considerably augmented, and now amounts to £2,888 3s. 2d., about £2,000 of which has been already spent, leaving nearly X900 ia hand to meet the necessities of the operatives for the future. In answer to various appeals', contributions to the relief fund reach the relief committee from all parts of the country. At the police court, on Saturday, Mr. T. Lund, J.P., intimated that he bad received, through the Rev. T. Lund, of Moreton, Derby- shire, a cheque for £ 50, presented by Mr. Bailey, Q. <5., of London, in behalf of the poor of Blackburn. The union finances are also very low; and it was stated ut the guardians' meeting, on the 26th inst., that there was a balance of X600 due to the banker, arising from the fact that the out townships had not paid their instalments, due on the 3rd April and the 5th May next. Somel flea of the distress may be formed when it is stated that the sum expended in out-door relief by the guardians during the half year ended on the 26th was £5,626 4s. 6d., against XI,894 4s. 9d. in the corresponding period of last year. In Blackburn, and 'the district cf four miles around, including Witton, Livesey, Church. Great Harwood, Over and Lower Darwin, Clayton-le- Moors, Eccieshill, Rishton, Tockholes and Yate, and Pickup Bank, it is computad that there are 154 mills and weaving sheds, whicb, in prosperous times, employ nearly 40,000 operatives. Of these mills, 1G are working fall time; 13, five days per week; 46, four days; 38, three and a half days; 17, three days; one, two days and 23 stopped. In the 23 which closed, 8,459 are entirely thrown out of employment, while about 2C,COO are engaged four, five, and six days per week, and another 10,000 operatives only two, three, and three and a half days per week. In other words, there are nearly 20,000 operatives wholly or partially unemployed, representing nearly 40,000 of a population, who are more or less dependent on parochial or other relief for the bare necessaries of life. We have been informed that the mill of Mr. John Chadwick, Tame Valley, Dukinfield, was entirely closed. The statement was made at the Ashton Guardians' meeting, on the 24th, by the relieving officer for the district, and was therefore believed to be correct. We are, how- ever, informed that three-fourths of the machinery is now working full time.

1THE LANCASHIRE STRIKE. The Lancashire operatives, on Thursday, were invited to ballot on the question whether they would adopt Alderman Pickop's proposal of accepting work at a 10 per cent reduction. Many of the men treated the offer with great contempt, others with indifference. Large numbers of men did not vote at all.

The official return of the ballot in all the districts was published by Mr Birtwistle, chair- man of the weavers' committee, as follows :â€"Yes means in favour of Alderman Pickop's proposal; No against. No. Yes. Blackburn 4,536 292 Burnley 4,999 392 Darwen 2,100 96 Harwood 797 4 Rishton 324 22 Whalley 151 12 Langho 75 10 Total. 12.972 828 Majority against, 12,144. Herdisham and Accrington have both refused the ballot. The ballot in the Oldham cotton trade has" been made known, the result being that there will be no strike, the reduction being accepted.

5 THE STRIKE AND LOCKOUT IN LANCASHIRE. For the present the whole matter seems to stand exactly where it was before the riots began. It is not understood upon what resources the operatives can rely- to sustain them m a continued trial of strength with the masters, but it is conjectured that they or their leaders are of opinion that time, at least, will fight on their side. The unanimity of the employers hitherto has been remarkable, but it has been strongly cemented by what appeared to be an organised effort to frighten them into a compromise. In the meantime another week of general suspension of work and production having gone by, estimates differ as to the length of time that would be required for such a general stoppage to continue before a change in the circumstances would be naturally produced. The operatives may calculate that if they can endure the hardships of another week or two of resistance they may succeed, though not in avoiding the full reduction of wages, in avoiding the appearance of an unconditional surrender to the masters. It is unhappily true that the strife has been embittered by personal and class antagonism. Much satisfaction is felt at the methodical manner in which the force of military and police throughout the district is said to have been directed for the past few days since the Home Secretary commissioned Mr. Higgins, Q.C., as Chairman of the Quarter Sessions, to organise, so to speak, the plan of campaign. The steps taken to command th$r<iada and prevent bands of disturbers roaming from one town to another have been especially applauded. The result of the ballot upon the proposal of Mr. Piftkop, that the operatives should return to work for three months at the ten per cent, reduction, with a view to the reconsideration of the matter at the end of that period, showed that the proposal was rejected by an overwhelming majority. The ballot was taken at Blackburn, Burnley, Darwen, Harwood, Rishton, have ^Kie folloifinn raply-has been sent by the chairman of the Employers' Association to Liitf Bateuian's offer of mediation: Blackburn, May^. "Dear Lord Bateman,â€"-Yeu^ are no doubt aware that mediation has been offered to the employers more than once before, and ^nanitfioysely rejected, upon the ground that the position of the cotton trade is such as to preclude the possibility of reopening the mills at a less reduction than ten percent. of wages, The pressing question for employers is bow to conduct their business without riiihduS lost, and if this caiknbt be I done their pnly alternative seems to b9 a temporary I withdrawal from its risks. It is well knowh that mills cannot be closed without heavy sacrifice, and the pressure must be extremely great which has caused ] such unanimity to prevail among employers as to the necessity of making, it If th^ enpployeM. bj £ d be £ n j willing to accept the mediator, no ^f(i>be5wbuld|^a^e carried eo mnch Weight or have been so unanimously approved, as that of Lord and I am, therefore, convinced that your offer will be rejected when laid be fore the committee. It is the general wish of the em* ployers not to meet agiin until they see signs of the j acceptance of tkeir-coalitions by the operatives, or i until there is a change. It is also their opinion that al outside interference is calculated rather to retard th^p to promote a settlement I do not feel justifiea in discussing how far or hojT lqn'g] the military force ought to be used' under existing circumstances. This J is a question for tl^a authorities to decide upon their superior judgment and responsibility, and I have 1 little doubt that whatever course they may feel it their duty to pursue will receive the sanction of publjc opinion. I will take' the usual means to ascertain whether it is the wish of the employers that the central committee jskould be called, together to con- sider-your offer, and in the meantime remain yours faithfully, R. RAYNSFORD J ICKSON."

3 THE COTTON TRADE. Last Saturday afternoon a crowded meeting of operatives was held in the Exchange-hall, Blackburn, to consider the proposed further reduction of wages in the cotton trade-viz., of 5 per cent.â€"which the North and North-East Lancashire Master Cotton-Spinners and Manufacturers' Association has resolved upon en- forcing. Mr. Whalley, weavers' secretary for Blackburn, reported that about two-thirds of the employers had posted notices of the 5 per cent. reduction, but that there was less unanimity among the masters on the question of reducing wages than there was last year before the strike and lock-out. Representatives from Church and Oswaldtwistle, Harwood. Padiham, Clitheroe, Rishton, Bamber bridge, and Burnley next gave reports in turn as to the state of matters in their respective districts. They stated that the general feeling was in favour of submission, and that they must take the first opportunity that might present itself of getting wages up again. An operative moved that the proposed 5 per cent. reduction should be submitted to on the understanding that they got back the whole 15 per cent. as soon as possible. An amendment was then proposed in favour of resisting the reduction by resort to a strike if necessary. This seemed to meet with a great deal of support, and a very disorderly scene ensued. Cheer upon cheer followed on the proposition to strike, and when one operative attempted firmly to oppose it he was received with loud hooting, which was with difficulty suppressed. The amendment was seconded, and it seemed as though a majority of the meeting was about to decide for another strike, when an operative rose and moved that the meeting be adjourned for a week in order that the feelings of the masters individually might be further tested in each district. On being asked by the chairman the mover of the resolution proposing an acceptance of the reduction then with- drew his proposition but the operative who had pro- posed resistance declined to do so on the ground that would be no nearer at the week's end than then, and the two remaining motions were then submitted to the meeting. On being first put it appeared almost as though a majority of hands had been held up for a strike; but the motions were put agaia altogether four times over-when at last, after many appeal had been made to the meeting to be calm and considerate and not hastily plunge themselves into another struggle, a majority of hands were held up for an adjournment for a week. Another meeting will therefore be held on Saturday next to arrive at the final decision upon the matter.

2 THE STRIKE IN THE COTTON TRADE. Replying to the Mayor of Blackburn, who suggested that the wages dispute should be settled by arbitration, the Central Committee of the North and North-East Lancashire Weavers' Association drew the attention of his worship to the fact that they have themselves unsuccessfully proposed arbitration to the Masters' Executive, and, after thanking him for his intervention, declare that they are as willing now as they always have been to have the matter at issue referred to arbitration, if carried out on a fair basis, From the masters' reply to the appeal, it appeared that a meeting of employers could not be called until the strike was ended. Two mills at Rishton, near Blackburn, closed through the strike, were reopened on Monday (25th January 1886), and the workpeople returned to work at the reduction of 5 percent in wages, to work five days per week. The compromise was arranged between the employers, Mr. James Hanson, Rishton Mill, and Mr. John Heys, Spring Mill, and a deputation from the hands. The mills of Messrs. Eccles and Clayton, and Mr. James Ashworth have continued working at the old rate of wages, and the only mill stopped is that of the Victoria Company, the largest in the township. The operatives at work intend to aid the strike hands at Blackburn.