Yorkshire Evening Post (05/Sep/1891) - Lock-Out of Navvies at Huddersfield Waterworks

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.

LOCK-OUT OF NAVVIES AT HUDDERSFIELD WATERWORKS.

ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY MEN IDLE.

A dispute has arisen on the new works of the Butterley Reservoir, which is being made by the Huddersfield Corporation in the Wessenden Valley, Marsden, resulting in a lock-out of about 120 navvies. Their version of the affair is that, in accordance with a custom prevailing throughout the country, excavators on piecework at waterworks cease labour half an hour earlier than day-work men on the first five days of the week, and an hour earlier on Saturday, and this has been the practice on the Butterley Reservoir till Thursday night, and on all previous works made by the Corporation. The Butterley Reservoir is being made under the superintendence or Mr. Hughes, who had not been employed by the Corporation on any previous works. He desired the piece hands to work till half-past five on the first five days of the week, as the days hands do, instead of leaving at five, and until two o'clock on Saturday afternoon, as the day men do. Yesterday morning he told the piece workers that if they could not conform to his wish they must go. He had also complained that the day men did not do enough work, and that they must do more or leave. These men say that experts have spoken very highly of the character of their work, and said that they did as much as men could do. Therefore yesterday morning, when Mr Hughes gave out his orders, both piece workers and day men left in a body. Mr. Hughes had five or six policemen on the works, but there was no need for their services, as the men left in an orderly manner. Mr. Leonard Hill, of Eccles, Manchester, the organising secretary for the Northern District of the National Federation of Navvies and Labourers, having been informed of the dispute, yesterday wired to Alderman James Crosland, the vice-chairman of the Waterworks Committee of the Huddersfield Corporation, for an interview and inquiry, and on receiving no reply went to Huddersfield this morning, and he and a dozen of the navvies selected by the whole body waited on Alderman Crosland, and placed their grievance before him. He received them courteously, promised to call the committee together for an inquiry, and said he knew nothing previously of any dispute. Mr. Hall says no men will go to work on the reservoir on the terms Mr. Hughes desires.

On the other hand, it is said that the whole of the men employed at the Huddersfield Waterworks commence work at seven o'clock in the morning, whereas at similar works, and at the new railway tunnel works, the navvies commence work at six o'clock in the morning, and that the piece hands on the tunnel works are employed on Saturdays till two o'clock. But although some inconvenience is caused by piece hands leaving work half an hour before day labourers, as the work of the latter is often dependent upon that of the former, Mr. Hughes will probably not insist upon that ; but as to the day hands, several of them have not done sufficient work, and have been told to leave. It is also said that there have been some mischief-makers amongst the men. The vice-chairman of the Waterworks Committee knew nothing of the dispute till yesterday ; but he says he will call the committee together to consider the matter, but that having appointed Mr. Hughes superintendent of the works they must, of course, leave the matter very much in his hands, and that he says he can get three times as many men as are required to fill the places of those who have left, and that for piece hands to leave work half-an-hour before day hands is a by no means universal custom. Mr. Hughes was formerly employed by Messrs. Lucas & Aird, the eminent contractors, and was very highly recommended to the Corporation.


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