Strikes at Burntisland Oil Co. Ltd., 1887

type: Workforce - stoppages

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Source date:
09/07/1887 (approximate)
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BURNTISLAND OIL WORKERS. The strike of the Burntisland oil work employees continues. A meeting of the workmen was held on the Links in the forenoon on Thursday, when the deputation which waited on the manager reported that no satisfactory arrangement had been come to. It was decided to adjourn till evening, and be guided by the result of the oil workers meeting at Broxburn. At the evening meeting It was announced that the advice from Broxburn was to resume working on restrict time four days a week. The proposal met with support, but after considerable discussion was overruled in favour of a resolution continue the strike.

Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian Saturday 09 July 1887


THE STRIKE BURNTISLAND OIL WORKS. A deputation of the men on strike met the manager of the works Thursday, to see if any arrangement could made so that they could resume work. Seeing the works had been standing for five weeks, and they had seen in the papers that the markets were improving, they thought that the proposed reduction might be modified. The manager explained to them that a number of the works had been working full during the strike, and also that there was large amount of scale coming from America. The market was thus kept fully supplied, and he could not give them any hopes of the reduction being modified.

Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian Saturday 20 August 1887


THE STRIKE BURNTISLAND OIL WORKS, similar text as above.
Edinburgh Evening News, Friday 19 August 1887


THE OIL-WORKERS' DISPUTE AT BURNTISLAND. A meeting of the shale miners of the district was held in the Town Hall. Burntisland. yesterday, in view of the opening of the Burntisland Oil Company's Works to-day. At the first meeting early in the evening no prospect of an arrangement was held out, but at an adjourned meeting convened at 10 pm, a more hopeful spirit prevailed. Mr Wilton, who had come in haste from Broxborn, reported that through the mediation of Mr Haldane, M.P. an early settlement of the dispute was highly probable. The Broxburn manager had conceded a point to which much importance was attached, of granting the miners' combination full powers to enforce the nine hours from bank to bank, and the stipulation with regard to holiday. Mr Wilson' s statement was loudly cheered, and the impression is that the Broxburn negotiations will result in putting an end to the strike.

Edinburgh Evening Dispatch, Thursday 01 September 1887


BURNTISLAND. Burntisland Oil Works. —Nearly all the retort men and labourers returned to work yesterday, evidently at master’s terms, but the miners are understood to be still holding out.

Fifeshire Advertiser, Friday 02 September 1887


THE BROXBURN MINERS' STRIKE. In accordance with the notice posted a few days ago by the Mineral Oil Association, the shale mines at Broxburn were opened Thursday morning, but none of the men put in an appearance. They are as determined as ever to hold out against the reduction of 4d. per ton, the more to as they are becoming sanguine of a settlement at an early date. It appears that their hopes were raised by the result of an interview between Mr Haldane, M.P., and Mr Henderson, the manager, as communicated to them by the member far East Lothian himself. At Burntisland, on Wednesday evening, Mr Wilson, the miners' agent, is reported to have said that the Broxburn manager had conceded a point to which much importance was attached, of granting the miners' combination full powers to enforce the nine hours from bank to bank, and the stipulation with regard holidays. Writing on Thursday, however, Mr Henderson declares that it is distinctly untrue that he has conceded any point or made any promises on the matter, having explained to Mr Haldane that he had no power to do so. Until, however, the recent proposals of the Miners' Union are submitted the Association, no steps, it is understood, will be taken to carry out the evictions. On Thursday the time allowed to the miners by the Court expired, and preparations bad been made for the erection of a wooden shed, where the families who could not find accommodation elsewhere could be sheltered. The alleged concessions, however, have made them so confident of a settlement that the work of building the temporary house has been postponed.

On Thursday afternoon a meeting of the directors the Broxburn Oil Company met in Glasgow for the purpose of considering the proposals forwarded on the previous day to Mr Henderson, through Mr Haldane, M.P., and it was decided to make no concessions to the miners. Their determination will laid before an early meeting of the Mineral Oil Association.

Dunfermline Saturday Press, Saturday 03 Sep 1887


There appears no immediate prospect of the strike in the Scotch oil trade coming to an end unless the men give way. Mr. Haldane, M.P., has again endeavoured to effect a compromise, but the hon. gentleman has been informed that the companies are fully resolved not to go back in any sense upon the conditions already laid down. The men, at Broxburn especially, seem equally firm. The dispute is much to be regretted, as it is entailing very serious loss on all concerned.

Liverpool Journal of Commerce, Thursday 15 Sept 1887


THE BURNTISLAND MINERS' STRiKE. The struggle amongst the Burntisland shale workers seems pretty well over, about 50 miners. having now resumed at the works of the Burntisland Oil Company. Some of the men who have left the district have returned, and the prospects are that the numbers entering the mines will daily increase. There is still a considerable opposition, however, to surrendering to the full reduction, and this feeling was manifested at a meeting of the local branch of the Lothian Miners association held in the Town Hall last night. Mr Wilson, secretary of the association, addressed the meeting, and detailed the steps which had bees taken to affect a settlement. During an animated discussion it was apparent that the majority were against yielding, and the conduct of the men who had done so, was strongly disapproved. A resolution was passed against accepting the employer’s terms and the hope was expressed that the public and their fellow-workman would give them assistance to battle against the unfair conditions sought to be imposed upon them.

Edinburgh Evening News, Saturday 17 September 1887


THE BROXBURN STRIKE. The statement published yesterday by the Broxburn Oil Company has given rise to a good deal of comments amongst the miners, who assert that the managers, having gone what would be sanctioned by the Mineral Oil Association, are now simply drawing back. Mr Mr Wilson, the secretary of the Miner’s Union, has published a statement in reply to that of the oil company, in which he says; "A statement appeared in yesterdays newspaper to the effect it was a fals report that the Broxburn Oil Company had offered 4s per day, clear of all off takes, to their miners; likewise, that the milling manager offered to take all the men back at the full reduction,, and willingly give the deputation, or anyone engaged, 4s per shift. Clear of all off-takes, as they (the company) were convinced that the men could earn more per day. In some of the newspapers it reads: the men, knowing that they could earn more, declined the company’s offer of 4s/day,' hence the negotiations ended in failure. The truth of matter stands thus. The following paragraph appeared in Saturday's papers. A statement having been made at a recent meeting of the men by Mr Wilson, secretary of the Miners Association, that if the company offered the men 4s per shift, clear of off-takes, he would advise them all accept it and go in, we have the best authority for stating that company is willing to take the men back on this basis, and give them 4s per shift, clear of off-takes. A deputation was at once appointed to wait

on the manager to see if the above report was correct. The manager, Mr Henderson, stated before the following gentlemen that the report was substantially correct, viz: George Hamilton, James Begbie, Thomas Crawford and Donals Macallum, miners. And Robert Hastie and Andrew Dick, newspaper correspondents. The deputation, on reporting the results to the men, were authorised to submit proposals, drawn up in committee and ratified at mass meeting—to accept the company’s offer of 4s per day to the men employed by the company previous to the dispute. This they accordingly did, with the result that the mining manager refused to accept their own terms, as reported today by the company. The statement by the Broxburn mining manager is ‘that he will allow all the men to resume work on the full reduction, and he will give those men he considers good practical miners 4s per day, clear of off-takes. The men cannot accept these terms, as it would not include all the men and would give the manager the power and opportunity of victimising the leading men. The mining manager is seldom in the mines and cannot judge of the competence of the men. The men hold that the settlement must effect every man alike. The manager’s interest upon the above principle would be to find few competent men.

Edinburgh Evening News, Wednesday 21 September 1887


Burntisland, Oil Works—End of the Strike.— The decision of the miners on Tuesday to resume work on the master’s terms has practically ended a strike which has lasted since the middle of July. An estimate of the number that turned up on Tuesday morning goes to show that about one-half of the full number employed previous to the dispute have still to report themselves. It is computed that the loss in wages during the period of the strike cannot be far short of £6000.

Fifeshire Advertiser, Friday 23 September 1887


BURNTISLAND OIL COMPANY. A special meeting of shareholders of the Burntisland Oil Company was held Monday—Mr John Waddel in the chair—to consider proposal by the directors to raise £100,000 in debentures, for the purpose of carrying on the candle-work. There was small attendance. The Chairman said he was glad to inform them that there was every reason to hope that the candle-work would be quite successful as they had anticipated. So far back as the month of February last the directors had under consideration the working of the candle department, and also the arranging of the offices and stores in London, Manchester, Dublin, and Belfast. They also anxiously considered the financial requirements for conducting in a satisfactory and profitable manner that new and extensive portion of the company's business, but, of course, it was not possible for them to form any reliable estimate on the subject until the whole of the department bad been in full operation for a few months. Now they found that at least £30,000 would be necessary for that purpose alone. In view of raising this additional money for the candle department, the directors also took into consideration the position of the company's present loans, amounting at last balance to £56,200, which was made up of a bond over the property to the amount of £29,000, and voluntary and unsecured loans amounting to £27,200, payable at three months call. After mature deliberation, they resolved to recommend the consolidation and extinction of these loans by raising a sufficient sum in debentures of the company, and the directors therefore recommend that, in all, £100,000 of debentures be raised, bearing interest at the rate of six per cent, per annum. All that would be put before them in the prospectus which they hoped would be in their bands in the coarse of few days, and would clearly show the undoubted security offered to holders of these debentures. By the paying off of the bond on their property, the whole of the estate would be left unburdened, and the debentures to be raised would form the first charge upon the property the company, which would be conveyed to competent trustees for behoof of the debenture holders. Very little bad been done since the strike took place, but prices were now stiffening. He was very glad to say that all their workmen bad gone in, and they had reason to believe that they would keep steadily at work.—Ex -Provost Wood, Portobello, seconded. He said that their mines were easily worked, and their miners were able to earn good wages. Had their miners been left alone, he thought they would not have come out. They did not, be thought, need to fear Russian competition. It was American competition which had taken down their prices, and everything there at present went to show tendency to rise in prices. The motion was unanimously agreed to, and the proceedings terminated.

Edinburgh Evening News, Monday 26 Sep 1887


THE BOYCOTTING OF THE BROXBURN OIL COMPANY. At a largely attended meeting of the Scottish Mineral Oil Association yesterday afternoon in the chamber of Commerce, Glasgow, it was reported that the miners on strike in the oil trade had arranged to resume work at the full reduction, excepting those of the Broxburn Company. The object of their men being kept out was fully explained, viz, that the Broxburn Company are to be " boycotted." and should they be beaten by these tactics, then the other Companies are to be attacked singly. The Mineral Oil Association in pursuance of former resolutions, have now definitely arranged to support the Broxburn Company and give them every assistance.

Edinburgh Evening Dispatch, Thursday 29 September 1887