Scale Makers Strike 1890
The Minute Book of the General Council of the International Working Men’s Association from August 21, 1866 records the ‘Reports of Deputations’, where ‘Cit. Jung reported that he had ………also waited on the Scale Makers, and had arranged to visit them a second time’.
Two distinct bodies were subsequently formed to represent employees, the London Society of Scale Beam and Weighing Machine Makers, and the London Journeymen Scalemakers Trade Protection and Benefit Society.
Both were completely separate from the London Association of Scale and Weighing Machine Manufacturers, who represented the owners of the firms engaged in the trade.
It appears from press reports of August 1890 that Mr Toombs, a scale union member, had ‘scabbed’ during a strike of gas workers in the South Metropolitan dispute, and as a result had been expelled from the union. He returned to work at Messrs Doyle and Sons of Borough, where his fellow scalemakers had demanded his dismissal, which Mr. Doyle had refused.
Doyle’s men had given a week's notice to strike, as a consequence of which ‘the masters, who had formed an association, decided on a general lock-out of union men’, which came into effect on Saturday 23rd August.
‘The men were resolved to fight the battle out to the bitter end’ said the report, as ‘the masters had thought by the lock-out to crush their society before they had thoroughly strengthened their position’. It said ‘their society was a young one, they meant to have it recognised and to be treated as trade unionists’.
It was said ‘the whole trade in London musters about 150 men, and of these 135 belong to the union’. Mr Nicholls, the chairman of the lock-out committee expressed ‘himself confident of the speedy victory of the men, as the present is the busy season’, continuing ‘the Act of 1889 has given a great impetus to the trade’.
The strike lasted over three weeks, and ended in compromise. All the locked-out men were re-instated, the ‘masters representatives agreed to use their influence to induce the smaller employers to pay the union rate’, a wage of 36sh for a 54 hour week, and the men pledged ‘to work amicably with the non-union men who had been at work during the lock-out’.
What happened to ‘the blackleg Toombs’ is not recorded.
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