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Had they been more accustomed to act together, they would have been more disposed to listen to the advice of their leaders, and they would not in that case have struck without notice. So far from the railway managers pursuing a wise course in refusing to treat with the representatives of the men, it is fairly clear that their policy in this regard has been extremely short. sighted. The future safe conduct of the railways really depends upon a cordial understanding between the men and their representatives, and between the representatives and the companies. The raising of the civil action by the North British Railway Company against the Executive of the Railway Servants Association occurred while the foregoing pages were in the press. This action concluded for £20,000 damages for having seduced and assisted the men on strike to break their engage. ments by leaving the company's service without legal notice. The leading points founded upon are: (1) That though the Executive in their published statements opposed the resolution to strike without notice, "in reality they countenanced and supported” it. (2) That, after the resolution was carried on 21st December, Mr. Tait, the secretary of the association, advised those present to go “at once and induce, if possible, those not present to join the strike.” (3) That the system of picketing is illegal. (4) That the promise of strike-money held out to the men is a cause of the breach of engagement. (5) That the Executive had paid money to persons employed by the railway companies to replace the strikers in order to enable them to desert their employment.
(6) That the members of the Executive had propagated false statements to the effect that it was unsafe to travel upon the company's lines. This action was entered on Friday, 23rd January, 1891, against William Milne, Chairman of Executive (and retired railway servant), Henry Tait, Secretary (and retired railway servant), James Paisley, Treasurer (signalman), John Smith (passenger-guard), Archibald Press (goods-guard), and Angus Macdonald (signalman), as individuals, and as representing the Committee of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants.
It is to be noted that this action was accompanied by a summary legal process known in Scots law as diligence, by which the pursuing company arrested the whole property of the defenders. The object of employing this process was, apparently, to enable the company to seize, at least temporarily, the funds of the society. These funds consisted mainly of money subscribed from day to day by other trade-unions and by the public. A sum of about £3,000 was arrested by this means. The withdrawal of the action was one of the conditions of the settlement.
THE NEGOTIATIONS FOR SETTLEMENT. Almost from the beginning of the strike, individuals and public bodies proffered their services as mediators. Among the earliest of the attempts at conciliation were those mide by the magistrates of Dundee Dundee had suffered heavily,
. both in its passenger and in its goods traffic, and it was generally felt that serious efforts at a compromise ought promptly to be made. Accordingly, on 29th December, the magistrates saw Mr. Walker, general manager of the North British Railway, who insisted upon the men returning to their work, on the understanding that their grievances should be afterwards considered.
This proposal was rejected by the men, who regarded it as too vague. Having committed themselves to the serious arbitrament of a strike on the 21st December, they felt that, six days afterwards, they could not abandon their position without some definite assurance that the conditions of their labour were certain to be modified.
(1) The terms of the memo adum are important, since, with a certain modification, they formed the basis upon which a month later a settlement was finally made. " Mr. Walker agreed to meet
a deputation consisting of an employee from each class of North British servants
now on strike, and a ranged for meeting the respective classes within the next fortnight to discuss any question that might be brought forward."-Scotsman, 31st December, 1890.
Earlier negotiations having come to nothing, Mr. Haldane, Q.C., M.P., attempted on the 7th and 8th January to arrange a compromise between the companies and the men on the basis of the settlement effected by the North Eastern Railway Com. pany with their employees. His efforts were unavailing; but they made an important change in the situation, and narrowed the quarrel to a single point.
The strike had been fought on two issues. First, there was the question of hours ; and second, there was the question of conference between the managers and the representatives of the men instead of conference by the “graded system.”
Mr. Haldane succeeded in inducing the men to abandon the second issue, and to promise to resume work immediately on the directors undertaking to accept the principle of a sixtyhours week, or a ten-hours day “interpreted in a reasonable spirit.”1 Mr. Haldane put this proposal before the directors of the North British Company, and they gave the answer which they had already given to a deputation from Dundee, that they would discuss grievances only with the men after resumption of work, and then only by the graded system. The Executive of the society then issued a manifesto, throwing the responsibility of the continuance of the strike upon the companies, and announcing their determination to continue the struggle.
The representations by the Glasgow Citizens' Committee met with a similar answer from the North British Railway; while, on behalf of the Caledonian Railway, Sir James King
(1) The text of the memorandum submitted by Mr. Haldane to the directors, and rejected by them, was as follows :
(1) *. 'l'he working day to be ten hours of actual work. This clause is to be interpreted in a reasonable spirit by both parties, and neither as compelling the companies to treat, for example, a porter at a roadside station as on the same footing as a porter at a large station where the work is continuous, nor as entitling the companies to exact from a porter at a roadside station an unreasonably long day's duty. This clause does not affect the existing rates of wages. (2) Overtime to be paid for after sixty hours per week have been worked. (3) Overtime to be paid for at the rate of time and a quarter. (4) Sunday work to be paid for at the rate of time and a half. (5) For shunters and yardsmen in busy shunting yards, and signalmen at important signal cabins, eight hours to be the maximum day's duty. 76) The men on sirike to go in at once on the companies underaking to give effect to these terms.
** These are, in substance, the terms which already exist between the North-Eastern and other railway companies in England and their employees, and we know of no peculiarity in the circumstances of the Scottish railway system which can form a difficulty in the way of their receiving effect in Scotland."—Scotsman, January 9th, 1891.
intimated that the directors “ declined to accede to the demand for a universal maximum” ten-hours day, and also declined to recognise the Railway Servants' Association.
Finally, on 19th January, the Earl of Aberdeen was appealed to by the Executive to employ his influerce to bring the struggle to an end. The substance of the appeal was this: The men
were announced to be willing to return to their work should Lord Aberdeen advise them to do so after he had seen the directors of the companies and obtained assurance of the genuineness of their intention to reduce the working hours. 2
The Earl did not, however, see his way to advise the Executive explicitly; but after conferring with the directors of the companies, he wrote to the Executive pointing out that they had already amply vindicated their claims to have their grievances considered seriously. and that they ought at once to return to their work. 8 Principal Rainy and others wrote to the men in the same strain; and the result of these various influences was that a deputation of men on strike on the North British system met Mr. Walker, the manager, on Thursday, 29th January. Mr. Walker repeated in substance the terms of the Dundee memorandum, to the effect that the grievances of the men would be discussed within a fortnight. The discussion was, however, to take place between delegates of the employees and the direc
(1) See page 21.
(2) The Executive explicitly gave expression to their regret that the men had been guilty of breach of contract.
(3) The following is the principal passage in the letter of Lord Aberdeen: “I wish to suggest and to urge with all respect, but with the utmost earnestness, that the time has now arrived when, without sacrifice of principle and without loss of dignity, you can at once offer to return to work.
"Some may ask, ' Are we then to surrender the position which we have maintained al! these weeks with so much strain and stress?' answer, ' Assuredly not. You will not, by returning now to work, withdraw from or contradict your repeated assertions as to the justice of what you have claimed from the railway companies. But by returning now you will be recognising (as others will be bound in fairness to recognise) in a manly and independent spirit, that you have done all that you can be reasonably asked to do in vindication of your principles and your convictions, and that you are not called upon to inflict further loss upon yourselves, your families your fellow-workmen of other trades, and the public. by remaining longer on strike.
" Further, I am satisfied from what I have learned that the railway directors in express. ing their intention of fairly considering all grievances, are not using these words in any vague or evasive sense, but that so far as consistent with what is properly due to the interests of the shareholders they do contemplate certain modifications in the conditions of service."-Scottish Leader, 30th January, 1891.
tors, a rather important departure from the established practice. As many of the men on strike as possible were to be re-engaged; all prosecutions were to be abandoned and the action against the Executive was to be withdrawn. The men accepted this compromise, if compromise it may be called ; and the strike was over. 1
On the same day a similar deputation of Caledonian Railway employees was met by the manager; but in that case the company regarded itself in so strong a positiona comparatively small number of their men remaining on strike
that the manager refused to accept the memorandum accepted by the North British Railway Company, and thus the men on the Caledonian system found themselves, after all, the last of the strikers to abandon their position. On 31st January, however, negotiations were renewed, and the strike finally terminated.
(1) TO THE NORTH BRITISH RAILWAY MEN AT PRESENT ON
STRIKE. FELLOW WORKMEN,-We have at lengih received sufficient assurance through a deputation appointed by the Executive Committee, that the company is prepared to give every consideration to the conditions for which you have been contending during the last six weeks; and, further, thay every thing possible will b: done by the officials to reinstate every man in his former position, and that no advantage shall be taken of men for any. thing they may have done during the struggle.
Under the circumstances, we do not see that anything further is to be gained hy prolonging the strike, and we therefore instruct all men to return to their work on Friday, the 30th day of January, 1891.
for England, Ireland, and Wales. “ Arrangements, under this document which I hold in my hand, have been made for the men to be restored to their former positions-(lond and continuing cheers) - so far as the same may be now open-(cries of Oh')—that the company will withdraw all prosecutions against the men, and, further, that on resumption of work. Mr. Walker will at once arrange for meetings of the men and the directors within a fortnight thereafter to discuss every question whatsoever that may be brought forward. In addition to that. Mr. Walker, in reply to a question, said that there was no intention on the part of the directors that any source of bitterness should subsist between the company and the staff-(hear, hear) -and that the action against the society would be withdrawn.”—Mr. Harford at meeting at Edinburgh. Scottish Leader, 29th January, 1891. Manifesto of 29th January, 1891.