The Broxburn Shale Miners' Strike 1887

type: Workforce - stoppages

Newspaper articles
Unique Code:
Source date:
01/01/1887 (approximate)

Below are transcriptions of 24 newspaper articles, all relating to the shale miners' strike in 1887 at the Broxburn Oil Company (and other Scottish Shale Oil Companies).
Each article is introduced with a short synopsis.


Article Synopsis: Oil Companies posted notice of a reduction of wages to the extent of one-sixth at the following works:— Broxburn, Uphall, Holmes, Pumpherston and Newliston. The feeling is that the men will take united action to resist the reduction.

BROXBURN. The Reduction of Shale Miners’ wages. In accordance with an agreement come to by the majority of the Oil Companies, notice of a reduction of wages to the extent of one-sixth have now been posted up at the following works:— Broxburn, Uphall, Holmes, Pumpherston and Newliston. No notice has yet appeared at Oakbank or Clippens, and it is stated that these companies dissent from the action of the other companies and do not intend to reduce the men's wages in the meantime. The feeling in Broxburn is that the men will take united action to resist the reduction.

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, Saturday 25 June 1887


Article Synopsis: Mass meeting (1000 persons) at Broxburn to consider the reduction of wages. Questioned what changes there had been to warrant reduced wages? Most products sold now at higher price than 1 year ago. But production had dramatically increased (5-1/2 times more than 13 years ago). The greater cause of the present depression was suicidal competition and greed. Reduced wages were denounced. Advised to await 14 day strike notice and resort to 4 day a week policy.

Mass Meeting AT BROXBURN. A mass meeting of the miners of Broxburn, Uphall, Holmes, Newliston etc., was held on Thursday night, to consider the proposed reduction of their wages by one-sixth, as resolved on by the Scottish Mineral Oil Association. There were about 1000 persons present. Mr Wilson, agent, who addressed the meeting, asked what change there bad been in the oil trade during the last twelve months, to warrant a reduction of their wages. Ammonia, he said was selling at this time last year at £ll per ton; at present it was selling at £l2 5s. Heavy oils twelve months ago were selling at £5 per ton; now they were bringing £5 10s. Mineral oil, however, was 1d per gal. less, and paraffin scale Id per lb. less than a year ago; but that deficiency was more than made up by the ammonia and scale. Mr Wilson then proceeded to give statistics to show that over production was partly the cause of the depression. In 1874, the output of shale in the country was 361,910 tons, and it had increased each year till now they were raising it at the rate of 2 million tons per year, being 5-1/2 times more than 13 years ago. But the greater cause of the depression, he held, was suicidal competition and greed. The Oil Cos. competed against one another, like two dogs competing for a bone. (Laughter.) The strong tried to put down the weak, so that the former might have the monopoly of the trade. The Cos. were now combining to fix the prices of their products. Why did they not do that five years ago? Regarding the Broxburn Co.—a Co. which could pay 15 per cent , and had £25,000 undivided profits— Mr Wilson denounced it in strong terms for proposing to reduce the men's wages, many of whom, be said, were not earning as much after paying deductions—as it would require to keep them and their families in the poorhouse. He hoped they would not sleep another night in their beds with the intention of submitting to the reduction. (Cheers.) He advised that as soon as the fortnight's notice had expired to resort to a four days a week policy,' and if they were locked out the onus would fall on employers. If the men did their duty he had no doubt that by September their wages would not be less than they were to-day. On a vote being taken all voted in favour of a four days a week policy unless four men, who held that they should not begin work on the reduction at all. It was agreed to have a general holiday next Thursday in accordance with late agreements.

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser Saturday 25 June 1887


Article Synopsis: Shale Miners Meeting at Broxburn. Miners on strike or about to go on strike.

MEETING OF SHALE MINERS AT BROXBURN. —. Thursday was observed as a holiday by the shale miners of Broxburn, Holmes, Philipstoun, Niddry, and Newliston. A mass meeting was held in the Sports' Field, to which place they marched from the village, headed by the Broxburn Brass Band. The meeting was addressed by Mr Balloch, organising agent, who spoke on the advantages of union; and Mr Wilson, agent, Broxburn, who advocated the four days a week policy in preference to strike. He advised all retort-men, notwithstanding that in some places they had just struck, to continue at work till September, unless the miners were locked out, and then demand the reduction back.

THE OIL WORKERS AND THE REDUCTION OF WAGES — The oil workers at Uphall, Holmes, Addiewell, and Champfleurie came out on strike against the reduction of their wages on Wednesday night. The Broxburn oil workers had also resolved to strike, but at the last moment a division on the question took place among the men. Mr Wilson, miners' agent, addressed them on Wednesday night, and advised them in the meantime to continue at their work on the reduction till some united action was arranged. Late on Wednesday night, a telegram was received at Holmes from headquarters instructing the men to continue another week on the old terms, and work there has been resumed. It appears that the Holmes Co. have a contract to supply the Pumpherston Works with crude oil, and, owing to the system of fortnightly pays at Pumpherston, the strike there will not commence till next Wednesday night. It is said that all the works have large stocks of scale and oil on hands, and that they mean to let the works stand at least six weeks. The retorts at Uphall Works have been damped down.

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser Saturday 09 July 1887


Article Synopsis: Miners’ meetings at Niddrie, Broxburn and Linlithgow. Oil Companies agree to close their works, unless the miners work 6 days per week on full reduction. Miners resolve not to yield.

NIDDRlE.—Yesterday meeting of locked-out miners and retort-men of Young's Company at Niddrie was held at Broxburn. Mr. Kerr, collector of the Union, presided, and took the names of all who had 15s. deducted from their wages as lying time. The men allege that the deduction was illegal, not being on strike, but locked out, and it was agreed to put matters is the hands of their law agent.
BROXBURN.— Intimation was received yesterday at Broxburn Oil Works from headquarters to the effect that the majority of the oil companies had agreed to close their works unless the miners work six days a week on full reduction. The miners of Broxburn having resolved not to yield. The works will probably be shut to-night.
LINLITHGOW.—The strike by the miners in the employment of the Linlithgow Oil Company at Champfleurie yesterday took a most determined turn, at least so far as the action of the men is concerned. A large number of the miners assembled at the works yesterday morning, and appointed a deputation to wait on the manager, Mr. Beveridge, to ascertain if there was any reply from the directors of company. Mr. Beveridge stated that he was still unable to give any reply. On this being reported to the meeting, they proceeded at once to the office and lifted their lying time, and accordingly all the miners are now idle. The reduction proposed is one-sixth of the present rate of wages, and while the men seem to be willing to accept a break of one-half of that rate, they seem determined to resist the full reduction.

Glasgow Evening Post, 13 July 1887


Article Synopsis: Miners’ meeting was informed that the directors had a meeting on Saturday, and were agreeable to allow the miners to start on half the proposed reduction, but could not concede anything to the retort-men. It was unanimously agreed to continue the struggle till a fair settlement was made with both miners and retort-men. Also a large deputation was formed to go to Bathgate and endeavour to stop "blacknebs" arriving each day.

THE SHALE MINERS AGITATION, the Lock-out at Broxburn.

THE PUMPHERSTON STRIKE. On Monday a meeting of the miners and oil workers at present on strike at Pumpherston was held in the Sports Field. After one or two workmen had addressed the meeting, in which they denounced oil capitalists as enemies both to working men and their country, and also stigmatising them as a lot of blood-suckers, Mr Wilson, agent, said be had just been at the manager's office to ascertain if there was any new phase of the question from the employers' side of the dispute. He was informed that the directors had a meeting on Saturday, and while they were agreeable to allow the miners to start on half the proposed reduction, they could not concede anything to the retort-men. Mr Fraser, however, was willing to let the retort-men on strike into the mines, so that he could retain his present retort-men. Mr Wilson was not in favour of this; but suggested that the retorts be contracted for, and allow the contractors to get I what men they liked. Mr Fraser could not agree to this; and Mr Wilson replied that, as a matter of conscience, the miners could not throw the retort-men overboard. After Mr M'Geough. Broxburn, and Mr M'Lellan, agent, Bathgate, had spoken, it was unanimously agreed to continue the struggle till a fair settlement was made with both miners and retort-men. As the number of "blacknebs" who arrived each day per special from Bathgate was regularly increasing, there being 41 on Monday morning, a large deputation was formed to go to Bathgate and endeavour to have them stopped. Before leaving for Bathgate, several workmen supplied the deputation with nearly all the names and addresses of the "rats."
THE OIL TRADE DISPUTE. On Tuesday morning, between five and six o'clock, a band of about one hundred men from Broxburn and Pumpherston arrived at Bathgate, and met the men who are at present working at Pumpherston, and after some talk with them they succeeded in persuading them to remain away from work during the present dispute.

Lanarkshire Upper Ward Examiner – Saturday 30 July 1887


Article Synopsis: Comprehensive news article of the Broxburn Miners' Strike, discussing following chapters: The Cause of the Strike, Concession to the Broxburn miners, Allied Ingratitude of the miners, the Company's losses, the Closing of the Works, the Strike Confined to Miners, Efforts at Mediation, the Masters' Contention, the Question of "Darg", Eviction of Houses, Noisy Demonstrations Threatened, the Miners' View of the Wages Question, Privation among the Miners, Assistance to the Sufferers, the Strike Continued, and, the wages of the Miners. The last part of the article follows the summonses in the Sheriff Court of ejectment of miners from their houses, belonging to the Broxburn Oil Co.

THE BROXBURN SHALE MINERS' STRIKE. There is no indication that the strike of the shale miners at Broxburn against a reduction of 4d. per ton of output is nearing its termination.

The Broxburn Oil Company employ about 1600 men, and of these only some 350 are miners. Only the miners are on strike, the remaining 1250 men having been thrown out of employment, not that they disagree with the terms offered by the Company, but because their work as retort and on-cost-men depends entirely on the labour of the miners.

-- The Cause of the Strike

Amongst the Scottish Oil Companies, it was recognised that, in view of the fall in the prices of oil and in order to prevent the companies working at a loss, or at all events without a profit, something must be done to cheapen the cost of production. Accordingly, at a meeting of the Mineral Oil Association, a resolution was adopted submitting the whole question to the consideration of the works and mining managers of the various companies. In accordance with the decision of these gentlemen a reduction of wages was resolved upon, as being the cause necessary to adopt to meet the financial difficulties into which some of the companies had fallen. The reduction recommended was at the rate of 4d. per ton of shale excavated, and it was considered by the managers that even with this reduction miners could earn fair and reasonable wages. This reduction put in force in the Scottish oil works, was the cause of the strike now running its course.

-- Concession to the Broxburn miners.

Last October the company granted their miners an advance of 2d. per ton, in the hope that it would encourage them to work constantly and give the company a sufficient supply of shale. Instead of that result following, it is said the concession had an opposite effect. With the increase the miners earned about the same wage as formerly, but the quantity of shale produced was materially diminished. This statement can best be tested by a quotation of figures. The increase of 2d. per ton was granted in October. ; and it is significant that during the fortnight ending 24th November, while the fourteen men wrought 11-1/2 days and obtained 4s 2-1/2d. of an average wage their output fell to 2 tons 4-1/2 cwts; the highest daily wage earned was 5s. 6d. and the lowest 2s. 11d.

-- Allied Ingratitude of the Miners

The condition of affairs attested by these figures appeared to the company unsatisfactory. They shower, it was said, that the miners seemed resolved to restrict the output and to harass the company by diminishing the production of shale. It appeared to the employers that there was a touch of ingratitude in this conduct of the miners. At a time when they could ill afford it, when in point of fact prices were falling. The company had advanced the miners’ wages 2d. per ton, an increase equivalent to 6d. per day; and what to a certain extent was believed to enhance the concession was the circumstance that the wages of the 1250 other hands employed in the work was not advanced. The only use, it was alleged, that the miners made of the advance was to hamper the company by sending less shale to the surface, for while their average daily output before the agitation commenced in June last year was 3 tons per man, it has since been reduced to 2-1/2 tons

-- The Company’s Losses

The company now say that a fall in prices necessitates the reduction of the wages by 4d. per ton. The state that the advance of 2d. per ton to the miners in October, coupled with the restriction of the output, has cost them £7000; and that the difference in the prices obtained for the company’s products in 1886-1887, as compared with those obtained in 1880-1881, amounted to over £100,000 – a loss of about 7s.? on every ton of shale manufactured, resulting in the reduction of the dividend from 25 to 15 per cent.

-- The Closing of the Works.

On Thursday 7th July last, after 3 weeks’ notice, the reduction of 4d. per ton came into operation. On Tuesday the 12th a notice was poster up announcing “that the works would be closed for the annual holidays On Thursday 14th at 1:45 pm. Owing to the miners not producing the necessary quantity of shale to keep the works going, it has been decided by the directors that the works will remain closed till further notice”. It is said that it was the intention of the Company to lengthen the holidays, so as to enable them to have their machinery thoroughly overhauled and repaired; but that before they had time to notify to the men that the works would be open for the resumption of work, they were apprised of the strike of the miners which practically put a stop to the necessity for declaring the mines ready for occupation.

-- The Strike Confined to Miners

The representatives of the company point significantly to the fact that of the 1600 men employed in the works, 1250 at once acquiesced in the reduction, only the 350 miners resolving upon resistance to the decrease. A deputation waited upon Mr Henderson, the works manager, on the 18th July, offering to return to work at half the reduction, provided they worked only five days per week. This offer was firmly refused, the manager strongly insisting not only that the full reduction was an imperative condition of a resumption of labour, but that the works must remain open six days per week. As result of an arrangement with the underground manager, the men removed their tools from the mines on Monday 25th July; and since then, they have remained on strike.

-- Efforts at Mediation

From independent testimony it appears that the prevalence of the strike, resulting as it did in a loss to the miners of £1800 per week, and in consequent suffering among themselves and their families, led to an effort being made by Rev. Mr Primrose, of the united Presbyterian church and the Re. Mr Sinclair, of the Free church and the Rev. Mr O’Neil, Roman Catholic Church, to mediate in the strike. They waited upon the manager Mr Henderson, and appealed to him to end the dispute if possible. Mr Henderson indicated that the dispute was not altogether a matter of wages, but that it had largely reference to the interference by the executive of the Miners’ Association in the business of the Company. The Company would not submit to have their hands tied in their dealings with their men by any combination. As to the proposed reduction, he submitted that the Company’s position absolutely demanded it; and that if the miners wrought as they ought to do they would make fair and reasonable wages which would compare favourably with those of former years.

-- The Masters’ Contention

The employers state that while in 1880-1881 the rate paid to miners, including “fathomage” and “deficiency” was nearly 1s. 10d. per ton, equal, with a daily output of 3 tons, to a daily wage of 5s. 6d.; The rate paid in 1886-1887 was 2s. 0-1/2d., equal, with the same output to 6s. 1-1/2d. per day. Applying the proposed reduction to the last-mentioned wage, and paying the miners only 1s. 8d. per ton, they could still make, with a 3 ton output, 5s. per day, which was equivalent to their earnings in 1880-1881.

-- The Question of “Darg”

The question of output, or “darg” as it is called, seems to be the bone of contention between the masters and the men. It is stated by the former that, while a young healthy miner might be able to put out three tons in seven hours, an old miner might take nine hours to produce the same quantity. Hence the Company hold there is great injustice in the Miners’ Union attempting to fix the working day at eight hours. All the men, it is said, are to be compelled to work the same hours, but as all the men are not able to perform the same amount of work in a given time, the employers maintain that they ought to keep their works going longer than eight hours, in order to give older and weaker men an opportunity of earning the same amount of remuneration as their able fellows. The men contend that eight hours are long enough for miners to work under-ground, and that to work these hours at a reduction means a heavier break in their wages that they can tolerate. The miners on the other hand assert that a 3-ton output in eight hours is impossible. They hold that while it may have been possible years ago to produce a “darg” of 3 tons per day, they are unable to do so now in eight hours, seeing that the shale is now deeper in the bowls of the earth, and more difficult to work. With reference to the contention of the masters that older man ought to be allowed to work longer time in order to make a wage equal to that of younger and stronger men, the men state that they have no grievance of that sort and that they are all unanimous that the working day should be nine hours from bank to bank.

-- Eviction from Houses

The Company seems determined to enforce the reduction. Their position is simply this: If the men cannot submit to the terms proposed they can go elsewhere. This policy they appear resolved vigorously to prosecute.; and in the case of from 130 to 140 of the miners that means eviction from their houses. These men, with their families, reside in houses in Broxburn belonging to the Company, and they have been warned out. They have been summoned to appear in Court at Linlithgow before the Sheriff and it is expected that warrants of ejectment will be issued against them. This the representatives of the Company declare is the only remedy left to them. And they have taken it, they say, rather than dictated to by agitators, whose sole aim is to widen the breach which the men, if left to themselves, would close on Tuesday.

-- Noisy Demonstrations Threatened

The proposed eviction of the men from their houses by the company is looked upon by the miners as a means of paralysing them as an organised body.; but they indicate their determination to allow many of their number to be evicted in order, as they say, to draw the attention of the Country to their wrongs and grievances. A good many of them occupying the Company’s houses have quitted their dwellings, having removed their belongings to out-houses of neighbours and other temporary accommodation, and some had gone the length of sending their wives and families to friends at a distance in order the better to tide over the dispute. Those who remain occupants of the Company’s houses are expected to be ejected. The men say they will not resist the operation of the law, but they state that they will assemble in such numbers and make such a noise as will awaken interest in their affairs.

-- The Miners’ View of the Wages Question

The miners offered to accept half the reduction, and work only four days per week. They assert that during four weeks preceding the dispute the output of the men employed at the two Stewart-field mines averaged according to the statement of the check-weigh-man, 1 ton 19cwt. Per man per day, making the gross wages 3s. 11d. per day of nine hours from bank to bank or eight working hours. The men say that they are decided in their resolution to insist upon working only eight hours per day. Putting their average wages at 8s 11d. they state that out of this they have to pay 4d. for powder, 1/2d. for a smith, 1d. for upkeep of tools and 1-1/2d. for oil and cotton. This gives them a net wage of 3s. 4d. and from this, again, there have to be deduced 2s. 9d. per week for house rent, 2s. per week for coal, besides education and doctor’s fees. In these circumstances, they say there is little room for a reduction.

-- Privation Among the Miners

Of necessity a good deal of privation has occurred among the families of the miners; and what by outsiders is looked upon as a hardship, is that the 1250 retort and oncost men and their dependents should have been deprived of work and sustenance by no fault of their own. Since the strike some of the men have left the place and obtained work elsewhere at rates, it is said, no higher than those now offered by the Broxburn Oil Company; but it is said that many of the unemployed miners have sought and have been refused work at shale works which are in operation, the masters’ combination preventing labour being given to any of the Broxburn miners. In meeting the strain imposed upon their resources by the strike, many families have been reduced to straitened circumstances. There are households, the members of which are too high-spirited to admit that they are feeling the pinch of the enforced idleness; but bit by bit the little board has been exhausted and many movables have found their way to the pawn office. There are others, again, it is said, whose improvidence left them at the beginning of the strike almost penniless; and among them want first appeared.

-- Assistance to the Sufferers

The distressed families obtained assistance from many quarters. The Rev, Messrs Sinclair and Primrose rendered aid in necessitous cases among the members of their respective congregations and the Rev. Mr O’Neil, the Roman Catholic clergyman, who had accompanied the Protestant ministers as one of the deputation and along with the workmen, waited upon Mr Henderson, to endeavour to accommodate the differences of the disputants also gave needed help to members of his denomination suffering from the strike. Other private individuals were no less liberal in their assistance to the sufferers. The Miners’ Association, having only started about a year ago was not looked to for pecuniary aid in the strike; the funds did not admit of that; but a relief committee was formed for the purpose of soliciting and receiving subscriptions from friends willing to aid them in maintaining the strike. In this way, it is said, a good deal of money has been collected and distributed among the most necessitous cases. The method of distribution adopted is that of giving the recipient an order to a merchant for a supply of provisions.

-- The Strike Continued

The miners had till Monday to give a final answer to the masters whether the reduction would be accepted or not; and at a meeting in the afternoon, it was almost unanimously resolved to continue the strike, and to open a soup kitchen for the support of the men and their families.

A meeting of Broxburn miners and retort men was held in the sports field on Tuesday. Mr Wilson who addressed the meeting, referred to some erroneous statements made by the employers. They wished, he said, to teach the public that though the men commenced at the reduction, they could earn on an average 1s. 8d. per ton, while the average would only be 1s. 6d. per ton. As to the employers’ statement that the men could work three tons per day, he held it was few men who could produce that in the present state of the mines. In some places 1-1/2 to 2 tons was good work, and in others 2 tons to 2-1/2 was all that could be done. Referring to the statement of the managers that old men should be allowed to work longer hours than the rest so as to produce the same amount of shale, he said this was all a hoax to delude the public, as the old men did not want to work longer, but rather less, as they were not able for a full day’s work.

-- The Wages of the Miners

I may be mentioned that among fourteen miners in the employment of the Broxburn Oil Company, the highest wage earned during the fortnight ending 24th November 1886 was 6s. 5d. The question of the number of hours the miners wish to work per day is looked upon by the men as one of the highest importance. The Broxburn miners have fixed their working day at nine hours from bank to bank, and this they say is one hour more than the time worked each day by the Fife and Clackmannan miners, and from two to three hours more then the period fixed by the miners of Durham and Northumberland. With reference to the statement in the article referred to, that only 350 miners are on strike in Broxburn, our Uphall correspondent writes: - the men ask it to be stated that there are 520 on strike – namely 250 in Stewartfield mine, 180 at Hayscraigs, 80 at Albian mine and 10 at the Hut mine. The article says – “Only the miners are on strike.” This they say is wrong. The retort-men, tip-men and breakers are also practically on strike and they number above 200. A portion of these however worked under the reduction till they got time to take united action; but were as much against the reduction as the miners. Regarding the statement of the Broxburn Oil Company, that the men, if left to themselves, would close next day, the men say that all votes were taken by ballot and that both Union and non-union men are unanimously in favour of the present policy.

-- Sheriff Court Summonses

In Linlithgow Sheriff Court on Wednesday, the summonses of ejectment at the instants of the Broxburn Oil Company against miners came up. Sheriff-substitute Melville was on the bench. Mr J. Watson Stuart, writer, Glasgow appeared for the Company and Mr John Thom, solicitor, Linlithgow, for the defenders. Mr Henderson, the works manager and Mr Kennedy the underground manager, were also present in court. Of the 350 miners employed by the Broxburn Oil Company, some 121 resided in houses in Broxburn belonging to the Company. The summonses of ejectment which have been taken out proceed on the narrative that the complainers, the Broxburn Oil Company, let to the defender, the miners, a dwelling house for the period during which the defender should continue in the complainer’s employment; that the defender ceased to be in the complainers’ employment from and after the 20th 1887; that since that date the defender has been requested to remove from the dwelling-house; and that as he refuses or delays to do so, warrant of ejectment was craved. Thirty of the men have, since they were served with the summonses, quitted the houses. All the miners occupying the Company’s houses were summoned to appear personally in Linlithgow Sheriff Court, to answer the Company’s complaint of ejectment. The court was crowded.
The first case called was that of one of the men who had left the company’s house after the serving of the summons. While there was no need of proceeding further with this writ, Mr Stuart asked expenses. Mr Thom said he did not think expenses should be given. The men were very ill off and had nothing with which to pay expenses. It might be that their demands were fair or unfair. The men seemed to believe that the reduction proposed by the masters was unjust. They also resented the conduct of the Broxburn Oil Company with reference to the Miners’ Union. The men occupied the houses at the mercy of the employers. Thirty of the men had removed from the houses; and the others were looking out for dwellings. Houses were exceedingly scarce in the district, and the men had no funds to enable them to remove to a distance, there was no intention to resist the law. The Sheriff: There is no doubt about that. Mr Thom: If sufficient time were given, say a fortnight or so, the whole of the parties may have left. I ask your lordship to allow the men a fortnight to remove and to give no expenses. In some cases, medical certificates are produced that the wives are unfit to be removed; and I ask that in these cases six weeks or two months should be allowed for removal. The Sheriff: This is a long time. Mr Stuart: Some of the certificates I shall produce show that the parties shall be able to remove in two or three days. Mr Thom: If they are removed it will be done at the risk of the Company. Mr Stuart: I shall certainly undertake that none of those for whom I have certificates shall be removed until we get another certificate from the same doctor that they are fit to be removed. Mr Thom: That would be eminently satisfactory, were it not that he is the Company’s doctor. Mr Stuart: That is not the case; the Company has no doctor. The doctor is employed and paid by the men. Dr Freeland is on his holidays and the certificates are granted by Mr J.C.G. McNab, M.B., C.M., his assistant. Mr Thom: Before the doctor grants any certificates, he consults with the manager. Mr Stuart: That is not the case. Mr Thom: It is my information. There are a number of men cited who are not tenants of the Company, but of Mr Alexander Kennedy, the underground manager who is landlord in his own right. Mr Stuart: there are only three of those cases. The houses undoubtedly are the property of Mr Kennedy. The Sheriff: How does the general case stand? Mr Stuart: The miners accept the Company’s houses while they remain in the employment of the Company; and they undertake to remove when they leave the employment. They have all left the employment, having lifted their graith on 25th July. Before raising this petition of ejectment, the Company took the precaution, as they were anxious not to put the men at any expense, of sending out a circular to every miner against whom a petition of ejectment has now been presented. That circular was to the effect that as they had left the employment of the Company, they would require to remove before Wednesday, 17th August, from the dwelling houses; and failing their doing so, warrant would be applied for summary ejection. Two of the men acted upon that notice, and removed; but the others remained and we were under the necessity of presenting this petition. Since it was presented about 30 have removed and there are 10 for whom I hold medical certificates. I asl your lordship to give me expenses in the cases of those that have left since the summonses were served. While many of the men may be suffering privation, there are others suffering privation too. The miners only number about 350, and they have thrown out of employment 1250 men. We wish those houses in order that men may come to work in our mines. The Sheriff: The only question at present I have to deal with is, the whole facts being admitted, is it to be instant ejectment, or is any time to be allowed? Mr Stuart: I have no objection to grant them eight days. Mr Thom: Ten days was granted in the twelve or twenty cases from Dalmeny. The Sheriff: I think Mr Stuart’s offer of eight days is a very liberal one. Mr Thom: Houses are extremely difficult to get, the men have no wish to be forced to the necessity of leaving. They wish to continue in the employment of the Company, in which many of them have been for years. It is a very hard case for some of them. Mr Stuart: It is very hard that they should impose upon other men who are willing to work. Mr Thom: I ask for a fortnight. It is not too long in the circumstances. The Sheriff: It is hoped that the strike will end and that the whole of the men will return to their work. Mr Thom: What about expenses? The Sheriff: The men must pay expenses. They should have been out long ago. Mr Thom: Would your lordship restrict them to 4s. each man? The Sheriff: The ordinary expenses are 15s. for each ejection. Mr Thom: It would be unreasonable that the agent should have a fee of 7s. 6d. in each case. The Sheriff: That is what the law has given. Mr Thom: He has only one appearance and these expenses would give him fees as for 130 appearances. Mr Stuart: I think I must stand upon my rights. Mr Thom: The Company are insisting to their uttermost in their rights. An agent’s fee of 7s. 6d. in each case is unreasonable. The Sheriff: Mr Stuart may not recover the expenses. Mr Stuart: I don’t expect to recover any of them. Mr Thom: If any of these men return to their work, the expenses will be kept of their wages. Mr Stuart: It must be borne in mind that these men have been living in our houses for six weeks without paying any rent. The Sheriff: Perhaps the best plan will be to modify the whole expenses to 10s. That takes off a third.

The individual cases were then disposed of. Eviction warrants were granted, to come into force in about 80 of the cases, after the expiry of eight days; and in the remainder - those in which medical certificates had been obtained – after the expiry of longer period. Expenses at the rate of 10s. each defender were also allowed to the Company.

At a meeting of the Scottish Mineral Oil Association, held in the Chamber of Commerce, Glasgow, on Wednesday, a former resolution, no Company should arrange with its men without consulting the Association, was rescinded; and it was unanimously resolved to open the works of the several Companies on Thursday, 1st September, to such miners and other workmen as may be willing to return to their employment at the reduced rates of wages intimated in June last. Notices to this effect will at once be posted at the various works, pits and mines.

The Weekly Scotsman – Saturday 27 August 1887


Article Synopsis: This article is also included on Museum website under ‘strikes at Burntisland Oil Company’. Broxburn miners holding out against 4d. per ton reduction. False hopes were raised at a meeting of union rep. and Mines manager regarding working day's hours and holidays arrangement. No steps yet regarding ejections. Preparations were made regarding a wooden shed for families' accommodation.

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 September 1887


Article Synopsis: A letter from William Kennedy, MD of Broxburn Oil Co, in reply to Mr Haldene's letter, regarding proposals to settle the strike. The miners' proposals could not be accepted by the Board. The crucial point is the reduction of the men's wages and the directors insist adhering to it. Regarding other proposals, the Board has no objections to the men working 8 hrs/day at the face, or 9 hrs from bank to bank. Also the Company recognises the right of the men to form themselves into a union for the better protection of thei interests, although there are reservations. There is regret to call for eviction of any of the men, but the Company has to provide housing for other men willing to work. A copy of this letter was read to the Scottish Mineral Oil Association. A commencement was made to build a wooden shed to accommodate evicted miners with their families.

THE MINERS' STRIKE AT BOXBURN. - - (to the Editor of the Glasgow Herald.) 28 Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow, 2d September, 1887. Sir,-As you have already published the proposals for a settlement of the strike, submitted by Mr Haldane, MP., on behalf of the miners, I send you herewith a copy of a letter which I have to-day addressed to him in reply, and which I will be obliged by your inserting in your issue of to-morrow. 'I should further mention that I read it to a meeting of the Scottish Mineral Oil Association this afternoon, by whom it was unanimously approved of and adopted.- I am, WILLIAM KENNEDY, Managing Director. The Broxburn Oil Company (Limited), 28 Royal Exchange Square. Glasgow, 2d September, 1887. R. B. Haldane, Esq., MP, Liberal Club, Edinburgh.

Dear Sir,-It was only this afternoon that I was able to see Mr Henderson, when he laid before me the proposals submitted by you on behalf of the miners at Broxburn at your meeting with him on Wednesday last. Mr Henderson informed me that all that he said or did with respect to those proposals was to under take to transmit them to Glasgow for consideration- Not withstanding this, he was surprised to learn from the Scotsmen’s report of a miners' meeting at Burntisland on Wednesday evening that the secretary of the Miner's Association has stated to that meeting that the Broxburn manager had conceded the right to the miners' combination of enforcing the nine hours from bank to bank, and the stipulation with regard to holidays. There was, Mr Henderson assures me. no ground for any such assertion and he has accordingly, very properly, contradicted it by a letter to the Scotsman of to-day. With regard to the proposals submitted by you, I am. unable to lay them before a full meeting of the board, but I have conferred with the co-directors who are in town, and they concur with me in I saying that, as the whole points at issue have already been so carefully and anxiously considered by the Board, your proposals cannot be accepted. The crucial point between us and the men is doubtless the reduction of the wages, and, looking to the conditions of the trade, the directors are clearly and decidedly of opinion that the reduction which they propose is not only necessary, but reasonable and they must and will insist on adhering to it. After giving effect to it the men can still earn, on an average, 5s per day - a wage that is not exceeded in any other district for similar work, and exactly the same wage for which they worked contentedly two years ago, when the prices were much higher, and we were better able to afford it. Facts and figures, I am assured, have been put before you which should abundantly satisfy you that the reduction is necessary, and that the men are ill-advised in withstanding it. In these circumstances it is only necessary for me to advert generally to the other proposals submitted by you. -So far as this Company is concerned, we have no objections to the men only working 8 hours per day at the face, or 9 hours from bank to bank, provided that they do so; and every reasonable facility has in the past been afforded in this respect. But, on the other hand we will never concede the right to any combination or association to prevent or use means for preventing any workman who is able and willing to work for a longer time from doing so. As the men have the privilege of engaging with us and leaving when it pleases them. It is not to be supposed that we will agree to any condition which would prevent our managers from engaging or dismissing any of our workmen when it suited them to do so.

The directors of this company freely recognise the right of any body of men to form themselves into any association or union for the better protection of their interest, and so long as any association or union confines itself to the furtherance of its legitimate objects, no objection can be taken to it. But when it or its executive steps beyond those objects, and attempts not only to interfere with, but to control the business of the employers, the latter are surely entitled to use all the means in their power to resist any such interference. It is of such conduct on the part of the executive of the Miner’s Association that the directors of this company have, with good reason, to complain. That body has for the last 12 months lost no opportunity of stirring up strife between the men and us, and harassing an annoying us by every means in their power, to such an extent that it was perfectly clear, apart altogether from the question of wages, that, if the business of the company was to be conducted profitably to all concerned, that strained relationship with the miners as a body that has be engendered must be stopped, either by the discontented men leaving the company’s employment and making room for others who are willing to work, or by agreeing to loyally serve the company.

The directors regret that they are called upon to evict any of their workmen from their houses, but after a delay of over 7 weeks, and in justice to their other workmen, who are 4 times as numerous as the miners, no other course is open to them in order to provide house accommodation for the other men, who are willing to accept the wage we offer.

As the proposals submitted by you have been freely published in the newspapers, I take the liberty of sending this letter to the papers at the same time as I send it to you, and I should further mention that I read it to a meeting of the Scottish Mineral Oil Association this afternoon, by whom it was unanimously approved of and adopted.
I am, yours truly, for the Broxburn Oil Co (Limited) WILLIAM KENNEDY, Managing Director.

Our Broxburn correspondent says: That announcement made in the newspapers yesterday morning, that the Broxburn Company had refused to accept the proposals of agreement submitted by Mr Haldane MP, was received with mixed feelings. Some for the first did not expect they would be accepted, seeing they were practically what the company had already refused; others, judging from the explicit statement of Mr Haldane, that he was hopeful they would be accepted, made them believe the struggle was about at an end. ; where others were again of the opinion that the proposals will be accepted by the Mineral Oil Association, the company not wishing it to appear that as far as they were concerned, they had given in to the men. The executive of the union, however, are preparing for the worse and ordered the Messrs Forsyth to proceed with their contract of erecting a wooden shed at Shrine Place close to the Roman Catholic Chapel, to accommodate those threatened with eviction, which may take place any time, although it is said that no date is fixed. A commencement was made with the structure last night and will in all probability be finished today.

Glasgow Herald, Wednesday Saturday 03 September 1887


Article Synopsis: A dozen men of the Mid-Lothian Constabulary left Edinburgh for Linlithgow to prepare for a disturbance, owing to the miners' strike. They departed again when a telegram was received they would not be required.

LINLITHGOW. AN APPREHENDED DISTURBANCE. —About seven o'clock on Tuesday night a detachment of about a dozen men of the Mid-Lothian Constabulary left Edinburgh in a brake for Linlithgow, whither they had been summoned by telegraph in view of some disturbance that appeared to be anticipated. Not very long after the men had taken their departure another telegram arrived in Edinburgh, stating that after all they would not be required. The exact nature of the apprehended disturbance was not it seems mentioned in either telegram, but it was subsequently stated that it was owing to the miners' strike.

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, Saturday 03 September 1887


Article Synopsis: The Broxburn Miners' Strike, a letter from Mr Haldane MP to Mr William Kennedy MD of the Broxburn Oil Co, in reply to Mr Kennedy'd letter. No proposals could be accepted by Mr Henderson he was merely to submit them to the Directors. But there was likely no objection to working only 9 hrs from bank to bank. It was also said that the Directors had no objection to the men forming a Union. A negotiation is proposed between the masters and the men to further refine the proposals. If these proposals were written and settled, an agreement might be arrived at the money question. This newspaper article further reported on a demonstration of working men in Edinburgh, in support of the miners. Some 2000-3000 people gathered around. Condemnation of the Oil Companies was expressed to reduce the wages of their workers, considering the excessive dividends paid to shareholders. Also the weapon, in case of dispute, of eviction from company housing was found unacceptable.


We are requested to publish the following letter sent by Mr R. B. Haldane, MP to Mr William Kennedy, managing director of the Broxburn Oil Company, in reply to Mr Kennedy's letter which appeared on Saturday: - "Scottish Liberal Club, Edinburgh, 3d September, 1887.

"Dear Sir-If too strong an impression of the possibility of an adjustment of the Broxburn strike was conveyed the other day to the men, it was, I fear, my fault. I was then full of hope that an agreement satisfactory to all parties might be come to, and that hope I still venture to entertain. I told the miners' meeting that no proposals could possibly be accepted by Mr Henderson, whose authority was merely to submit them to his directors on Friday. I, however, added, what Mr Henderson authorised me to add, an assurance that the disposition of all parties towards the men was friendly, and further, that on one question, that of it the number of hours' work, the company was not likely to object to the men working only nine hours from bank to bank. On this last point your letter confirms what I said. The matter is one of importance, as I certainly found a misunderstanding of the company's intentions among the miners. They had got the impression that the company expected them to work for over 10 hours. This is the explanation of how it is that, although Mr Henderson most carefully and explicitly guarded his statement in language which I endeavoured to convey to them, the men took the strong impression that a new and more hopeful attitude had been assumed by the masters. I venture to think that the fact that all parties are really at one on this point may enable a further step to be taken towards an agreement all round. You say that the directors have no objection to the men having an association, but only to improper interference by the executive of such an association with the business of the employers. Now, it does appear to me that on this further subject a definition of the legitimate functions of such an association might be arrived at by negotiation. What I propose is that negotiation should be opened up between the masters and the men through some neutral party. in the first place as to the general principles which should for the future regulate their relations and in the second place, as to the amount of reduction to which the men should submit. So far as my judgement is of value, I am satisfied that the men will have to submit to grave reduction, and it appears to me that if the more general matters referred to in the written proposals handed through me to Mr Henderson could be first settled, an agreement might be arrived at on the money question. I do not consider that I am competent to negotiate matters which demand the knowledge of an it expert in the trade, but I need not say that I should be most glad if in any way I could contribute to the settlement of this most melancholy dispute. If you think it useful, I shall therefore be most happy to have an interview with you as to the nature of the negotiations I suggest and the parties who should take part in them. It might possibly be arranged that the men should resume work provisionally on some temporary terms, an arrangement which would obviate contemplate evictions. -I am, yours truly, R.B Haldane.


An open-air demonstration in support of the shale miners now on strike at Broxburn and else- where was held, under the auspices of Edinburgh United Trades Council, on Saturday afternoon in the Queen's Park, Edinburgh. Two cabs were used as platforms, and these were placed at some distance apart on the level ground between Holyrood and St Margaret's Loch. The weather was fine in the earlier part of the day, but unfortunately a series of heavy showers fell during the proceedings, and thus kept the attendance of the public lower than it would otherwise have been. Notwithstanding this, some 2000 or 3000 people gathered round. The same resolution was put from both platforms, and the principal speaker was Mr R. B. Haldane, M.P. Most of the other gentlemen who spoke were members of Edinburgh Trades' Council. Shortly before the proceedings commenced about 70 miners arrived from Broxburn, accompanied by bands, marching in processional order, and bearing banners with suitable mottoes inscribed thereon. At No. 1 platform Mr A. Shaw, president of the Trades' Council, acted as chairman. The Chairman, in opening the proceedings, said they were gathered together to express sympathy with, and contribute material assistance to, the shale workers. (Applause.) These men had already been locked out for eight or nine weeks. Negotiations had been attempted but had failed, but that was no reason why negotiations should fail. Negotiation was what it must ultimately come to. He hoped that no word would be uttered that afternoon which would in any measure retard settlement by negotiation. (Hear. hear.) He hoped the speakers would weigh the matter fairly, and let the employers understand that the one principle for which all present were determined to stand up was the right to combine. (Hear, hear.) Wages and hours were matters of detail, but the one point on which they would not yield was union. Mr A. C. Smith then moved, that having heard the statements on behalf of the miners we would express our strong condemnation of the present attempt of the oil companies to reduce the wages of their workers when we consider the excessive dividends paid to the shareholders, while the workers can barely secure sufficient on which to subsist. We would also express our opinion that the present system should be so altered as to prevent them using a process of eviction against their workmen as a weapon in cases of dispute; and that considering the exhausting nature of the miner’s employment, we are of the opinion that eight hours per day is a sufficient tax upon their energies. The only means of securing more humane and equitable treatment from their employers is by being thoroughly united. The right to combine is, in our opinion, the inalienable right of every man, and therefore in the whole circumstances, we pledge ourselves to afford material support to assist the miners in resisting attempts of these companies to reduce their wages and destroy the union". Confining his remarks to the question of unionism, he said they all know perfectly well that if it had not been for trades' unions their condition, poor as it was, would have been a great deal worse. (Applause) It was their bounden duty to assist anybody of men who were determined to hold fast by the union that kept them up. (Applause.) Mr Thomas Blaikie, treasurer of the Trades Council, who seconded the motion, said he trusted that the workmen of Edinburgh would show their material sympathy - (hear, hear)-towards the miners. The latter deserved support for the resistance which they offered to the oil companies. The companies ought to share some of the trials which trade depression brought- (hear, hear)-and not cause the workmen to suffer only. The wages the miners now earned were not nearly sufficient to keep them anything like respectably. These wages averaged only 22s or 23s per week and if one-sixth was taken off that he left them to judge what the miners would have to live upon. (Hear, hear.) He characterized the pending evictions as a dastardly piece of business. It was a dastardly attempt to coerce the workmen-(hear, hear)-and they ought to expose the company which had sought not only to trample upon the men, but on the wives and children also.

Mr. R. B. Haldane M.P. who supported the resolution, was received with loud cheers. He said no one who knew the work of the miner could but sympathize with the extreme hardships and difficulties of his position. (Hear, hear.) The miners were a most independent, intelligent, and upright body of men. He had seen a good deal of them, and he had conceived the very highest regard for them, and therefore it was with a double sympathy that he had come to the meeting that day. (Hear, hear.) He wished to draw his hearers' attention to one or two of the more general features of the present dispute. In the first place, the masters had taken up one position, and they proposed to assert what they conceived to be their rights. The men had taken up another and a different position and they proposed to defend what they conceived to be their rights. (Hear, hear.) In all occupations, and especially in that of the miner, combination and association were an absolute necessity of the case, in order that there might be freedom of contract between the men and the great employers. He had always striven, in and out of Parliament, to preserve the independence of the men. (Cheers.) He had always thought it a bad thing that the State should undertake to do, and do imperfectly, as he knew it would be, what the men could do better were these combinations possible. among miners as in other trades, an, if so, it would be possible to regulate matters without State interference. But if the masters rendered it impossible, then it would be a necessity that the State should step in. He did not believe in the latter alternative. He believed that the masters would see that it would be for their own great advantage that there should be this combination. He believed, if the masters failed to see that, they would find that the working classes, now that they were armed with an extended franchise, would so exert their powers that their demands would become irresistible. (Applause.) But he deprecated any conflict of that kind. He believed that the interests of all classes were identical, and he wanted to see the masters and men working harmoniously. It was only by great combinations of the men that this could be brought about. He had been talking only the previous day with one of the greatest iron-masters in America, Mr Andrew Carnegie- (applause) and he had said that through the medium of these great combinations in Pittsburgh the men were able to establish their trade relations and maintain and adjust them on the most amicable basis. Once get a big enough organisation, and then they could get their experts and accountants, who could go in and negotiate matters with the masters, see their books, and arrange technical details. That was the true position in which labour and capital ought to be. (Applause.) He wanted to see that sort of thing maintained and developed in this country. He was as strongly in favour as anybody of an eight hours system, and he wanted to see that brought about through the medium of these combinations, In Parliament the other day he had stood with the labour representatives in defence of trades' unionism. (Applause.) Through the medium of perfect and extended combination they would get fair wages adjusted from time to time and periodically and fair hours of work. Speaking next on the Broxburn dispute in particular, he felt that there had been between masters and men much in the nature of a misunderstanding. He believed that it was possible to negotiate a settlement. (Hear, hear). He had made certain proposals to the masters the other day, and there was a letter from Mr. Kennedy, the managing director, in reply. There appeared in that letter something which some did not know before, that the Broxburn Company and the masters generally did not desire that men should work more than nine hours a day from bank to bank. That was an admission. 'The masters said they had thought so all along: he was glad to hear it. They had got the point of the hours settled, and if they could get, something more as regarded the association they would have a basis for getting a good deal further. Mr Kennedy said the masters did not object to the men having an association but to the executive of such associations interfering in an unwarrantable and unnecessary manner in the business of the works. But he (Mr Haldane) did not think that the executive of the associations desired to interfere in any undue or unnecessary way. If the masters conceded the right of the men to associate and meet, then he thought it would be possible that the men should so define, and limit, and make plain the basis on which they wished the associations to proceed that there would be no objections to them in the minds of the masters. (Applause.) He meant to have a try at that. He had submitted that day in a letter which they would see in the Papers today proposals to Mr Kennedy for a conference, which he hoped would be a full and fair one between representatives of the masters and of the men, as to hours of labour and right of combination (Applause). The matter of money could be adjusted too. It was all very well to talk of the companies making big dividends: they had made them in the past but he did not think they would make them in the future for some time to come. Both parties must give and take. But when prices were high and profits, great, though the men get something of a rise, they did not get a rise at all proportionate to the profits of the shareholders (Applause). If that was so, it was not fair that the wages should now fall to the extent that the profits had fallen. Wages must come to be recognised more a something like a fixed thing, as something like cost of production, which could only vary within certain limits. If that principle were recognised. it would be possible to get the masters to see that while the men were willing to submit to a fair and proper and warranted reduction, they should not be called upon to submit to an excessive or great reduction proportionate to the fall in prices. He believed they should be able to get that recognised, and by negotiation of this fair basis they should be able to get something like sense and agreement on this matter (Hear, hear). At all events, let them try. Whatever he could do was at their disposal -(applause)- and he hoped in a few days to see something done. It was a dispute not only in the interests of the masters and of the men, but in the interest of the public, an as a public matter he stood there to support them (loud cheers). The resolution was then put and carried unanimously amid loud cheers. Mr John Wilson, secretary to the miner’s union, and Mr Vietch, miner, West Calder, also spoke.

The Chairman said they thought they now saw the beginning of the end of this dispute, but whether or no, help was at hand. The Trades Council had already set agencies agoing which would bring relief to the men and their families, and he asked those present to implement the resolution just passed by doing all they could to help the miners materially. A vote of thanks to the chairman closed the proceedings.

Glasgow Herald, Monday 05 September 1887


Article Synopsis: This article is also included on Museum website under ‘strikes at Burntisland oil Company’. Broxburn mine management issued a statement that it had offered all miners 4s. per shift, clear of all off-takes. This was considered a false report by the miners' Union. Further discussions did not produce agreement. The offer was for those men considered 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 BROXBURN STRIKE. The statement published yesterday by the Broxburn Oil Company has given rise to a good deal of comments among 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 Donald 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


Article Synopsis: Strike in 12th week, 3 clergymen intervened, no effect. Mr Haldane MP to umpire, but again no effect. Company acceptance of 4s. per shift free of off-takes, but different interpretation. Payment of "deficiencies", but again not reconciled. Other Oil Works resumed work, stern necessity and to support the boycotted Broxburn. Union leaders make Broxburn the battle ground of the dispute.

THE BROXBURN STRIKE. This strike is now running its twelfth week, and, as all attempts at a settlement have proved futile, there is no saying when the end will come. First of all, three clergyman at the village intervened in the hope of making peace between employers and employed, but they soon found that both sides were so determined to hold by their positions that anything they could do was useless. Then Mr Haldane, M.P., came upon the field as an umpire, and made praiseworthy efforts to bring about a settlement, but he, too, soon gained the experience which his clerical friends had learned before him. Next, there was the acceptance by the company of the men's suggestion to give 4s per shift free of off-takes, but the interpretation put upon this offer by the employers was so different from the meaning attached to it by the men, that it was soon learned that nothing was to be hoped for in that direction. After this a statement was published that if the men could get even-handed justice in the matter of "deficiency" they could make a fair wage even at the reduction. The mining manager consequently submitted a scheme for the equal payment of "deficiencies" and although the men received the proposals favourably, so far as the payment of deficiencies was concerned, he learned that unless his proposals were accompanied with 2d. per ton in dispute the men were not to be reconciled. Last of all, the men drew out rates for the digging and filling the shale, leaving the employers to draw the materials; but as the rates would give the men the same wages as if they had 'got half the proposed reduction back, the employers have rejected the men's offer. Meantime the men at the other oil-works have resumed work, not that they are pleased with the employers terms, but partly through stern necessity, and partly to carry out a policy of boycotting Broxburn. The majority of those who resumed work at the various oil works are understood to be subscribing 1s 6d per week towards Broxburn men. The leaders of the union mean to make Broxburn the battle-ground of the dispute, and when they are successful there other places will have their turn. The Mineral Oil Association, on the other hand, have arranged to meet the difficulty.

Edinburgh Evening News - Tuesday 27 September 1887


Article Synopsis: This article is also included on Museum website under ‘strikes at Burntisland oil Company’. At a largely attended meeting of the Scottish Mineral Oil association it 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 who are to be " boycotted."

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


Article Synopsis: A circular was handed to the men on strike: either to resume work (at full reduction) or quit the Company's houses by next Friday. Wooden structure at Old Stewartfield, in case ejected. Men to stay until evicted. Saturday morning 23 miners resumed work on employer's terms.

THE BROXBURN STRIKE. The circular received by the men strike last Friday from their employers, either to resume work the full reduction quit the company's houses twelve o'clock next Friday, is looked upon by the general body of the men with comparative indifference. Steps will be taken to-day, however, to put the wooden structure at Old Stewartfield into habitable condition, the men still seeming determined to remain in the houses, till evicted. On Saturday morning the number who resumed work on employers' terms is stated to be 23. The Union Committee believe that employers will soon tire of keeping a mine open for such a class of workmen.

Edinburgh Evening News - Monday 03 October 1887


Article Synopsis: Big demonstrations in Broxburn (>1000 people): "The din of the bell, the clatter of the tin cans, pots and trays, the yelling and booing was kept up with unfagging zeal"). “blacknebs” were escorted. Only one stone was thrown, but missed one of the "blacknebs".

THE BROXBURN STRIKE. Yesterday morning at half-past four o'clock, another demonstration of the strikers took place at Broxburn. Having been roused by hand-bell, the men on strike, with a number of their wives, assembled in the vicinity of the Sports Field, where they awaited the arrival of the "blacknebs”. Meantime Mr Henderson and Mr Kennedy had about 500 of the oncost men at the oil works marched to the residences of the " blacknebs,' to assist the mine police constables to protect the men. It seems that the coopers, however, who all belong to the Scottish Coopers' Union, point blank refused to take any part in the work. About six o'clock the "blacknebs”, escorted on each side from four to seven deep by the oncost men and the police, commenced the march from the Holygate. and at the foot of the Greendykes Road the procession split, a portion going by way of Church Street, and the other by the Sports Field. The number of strikers were not so numerous as the previous morning, but all jeered its loudly as they could, the women trying to make themselves heard above the sterner sex, and one woman in particular did good service by continuously ringing a hand-bell. The number of " blacknebs" appear to be on the decrease, a few having refused to continue working. A mass meeting of the strikers, with many of their wives- was held on the north-west corner of the Sports Field, being the part nearest the houses. Mr John M'Gough presided. He said he had witnessed a strange sight that morning in the managers of the oil company marching out all their oncost men with the ' blacknebs". He did not understand the meaning of this conduct, unless the managers wanted to provoke a disturbance. This demonstration on the part of the company was got up by their foremen and their satellites, men who had from 35s. to £2 a week, and who wanted the poor miners to work for a small pittance. he urged them to make things as disagreeable for the I company and the " blacknebs ' as possible, but to take care and do nothing that would bring them into the hands of the police.
Mr Wilson denounced the action of Mr Henderson. A Justice of the Peace, marching out his men to protect the ' blacknebs ' and provoke a disturbance of the peace. His coopers, however, |said "No”. That was what a trade union could do. Mr Wilson next denounced the conduct of those who had resumed work, some of whom, he said, were professing Christians, even preached, and yet they were selling the interests of their fellow-men for a mess of pottage. He asked them to snap their fingers at the evictions, as the Irish did, and there would be more of it. They might depend on it that if they had submitted to this reduction they would, before long, have been called on to submit to another. It was agreed to have a demonstration at 3 o’clock as the “blacknebs” came home from work, and it was understood that these demonstrations would be continued morning and night so lang as any “blacknebs” were working.
By 3 o’clock in the afternoon and large crowd of men, women and children had assembled at the mouth of Stewartfield mine to “see the blacknebs home”. The four local police were also upon the ground and ordered the crowd back. They however stood on the canal bank and in little knots around, ringing a hand-bell, beating old trays and tin pots, and shouting for the blacknebs. In all there would be over a thousand people. After some consultation with the oversman, Mr Ross, the police and Mr Cowan, cashier, during which it was suggested to again call out the oncost men from the oil-works, it was ultimately resolved to brave the crowd. The “blacknebs” with Mr Ross at their head, then issued from the mine and proceeded in a body towards the village by way of the Sports Field. The din of the bell, the clatter of the tin cans, pots and trays, the yelling an booing immediately began and was kept up with unflagging zeal. The wildest excitement prevailed and it took all the efforts of the police to keep the crowd out from among the “blacknebs”. At the Sports Field one of the “blacknebs” was nearly hit with a stone, the only one thrown. When the party had to divide at Greendykes road, Mr Ross got some parting booing before entering his house, and then a rush was made after those for the Holygate. The police in passing along the main street tried to stop the bell-ringing and the clatter of the pots, but it was of no avail. On reaching the Holygate excitement ran high, the crowd continuing the din for some time after the “blacknebs” had entered their homes.

____ At a well-attended meeting of the Scottish Mineral Oil Association, held in the Chamber of Commerce yesterday, it was elicited that all the companies, including those whose miners have not been out on strike, are contributing, or will contribute, supplies of shale or crude oil, in proportion to their output, to keep the Broxburn Company working.

Glasgow Herald - Thursday 06 October 1887


Article Synopsis: 21 miners at work, not molested. 7 families live in wooden shed. Several striking miners started work at other shale mines, but were immediately dismissed. Mass meeting held 12oct87. Speaker Mr Cunningham-Graham: continue the struggle. Not a question of 6d. per day, but question of slaves or free men. Mr Haldane MP got the wrong end of the stick. Parliament did nothing for the working classes. Mr Mahon: when wives and children were suffering, give up being law-abiding.

THE BROXBURN STRIKE. The usual number of miners were at work yesterday, namely 21, and they were in no way molested either in going to or coming home from work. The covering of the wooden shed with asphalt has been completed, and seven families now occupy the place, which is the full number for which it intended. The remainder of those evicted are put up in rooms of other workmen who do not occupy the company's houses. Several of the men on strike state that they had obtained and commenced work at other shale mines in the district, but when it was found out that they were on strike at Broxburn, they were immediately dismissed. The leaders of the union say that the support coming in from the country is quite adequate to maintain them, and both married men and single seem as much determined as ever to carry on the struggle. A mass meeting of the men on strike, and also those at work in the surrounding district, was held yesterday. Resolutions expressing indignation at a system which permits employers of labour to render workmen homeless in the event of a struggle upon wages or conditions of labour, expressing the opinion that the land and means of production should be the property of the nation, as the only system that will give justice to the whole people; that boards of arbitration should be compulsory for the settlement of all labour disputes; and asking the shale miners to prevent their labour being sent to Broxburn, were carried. Mr Cunninghame-Graham said it was a strange state of things that 20 or 30 mounted soldiers were brought out to evict 10 peaceful citizens and their cats. (Laughter) He was glad they had to go back for the cats. (Laughter.) His advice was for them to continue the struggle, as there would nothing be gained by giving in. In every instance where men had given in after a strike, they were worse than if no strike had taken place. It was not a question of 6d a day, but a question whether they would be slaves or free men. (Applause.) Referring to the present action of the employers, he said the men should show them that they were as good as them, and that they had as good a cause, speaking of members of Parliament who would nothing for the working classes, he referred in particular to Mr Haldane, whom he respected as a friend, but who, he said, had got hold of the wrong end of the stick. He asked what Parliament was for if it did not do something for the working classes. If Parliament did nothing for the working classes, then the walking classes should do something for Parliament. They had the power if they had the inclination. They had the numbers, and they should have the inclination and return no member who would do not something for them. In addressing a few words to the wives of the strikers present, he said that if their husbands were beaten in this struggle the condition of the shale miners of Scotland would be that of slaves. Mr Mahon said that when wives and children suffered it was time to give up being law-abiding, though be counselled obedience to the law as a matter of expediency. While not altogether blaming the employers, it being the system which required to be altered, still if he had a hold of their oppressors, he be would hold them over the mouth of hell, but would not drop them in. (Sensation and some applause).

Edinburgh Evening News - Thursday 13 October 1887


Article Synopsis: Broxburn affairs unchanged - 21 miners working. Company receives large supplies of shale and crude oil. Lord Cardross objects. Relief for the strikers granted by Union. Each family receives 3s. 6d. Per week + 1s. For each family member.

THE BROXBURN STRIKE. The position of affairs at Broxburn remains unchanged. The number of miners who have resumed work is still 21, but the company continue to receive large supplies of shale and crude oil from other works. It is rumoured among the men, however, that Lord Cardross is objecting to this arrangement. The general body of the miners seem determined as ever not to submit to the terms. The amount of relief granted by the Union Committee is sufficient to keep them from starvation. Each head of a family now receives 3s. 6d. each per week and 1s. per week for each other member of the family, irrespective of age. This is the highest relief that has yet been paid during the struggle. A large number of people visited the evicted miners at the wooden shed at Old Stewartfield Sunday.

Edinburgh Evening News - Tuesday 18 October 1887


Article Synopsis: Strike in 20th week. Both sides determined. Number of working miners about the same. Some Edinburgh miners arrived to begin work, but were told of the strike position and left. Names of "blacknebs" were given out. District meetings were held at Champfleurie, Philips-town, Niddry, Pumpherston, and Dalmeny.

THE BROXBURN STRIKE. This strike is now running its twentieth week, and both sides seem determined still to hold out. The number of working miners remains about the same. A few new men came last week from the neighbourhood of Edinburgh with the intention of beginning work. They, however, explained to the executive of the union that they were unaware of the continuance of the strike, and had been informed by the party who engaged them that It was settled. They lifted their graith next day, and left the place. The numbers working at the open-casts are gradually increasing. The one at Stewartfield mine employs over a dozen, who are merely uncovering the shale. At the Hut open-cast some fifteen are engaged in excavating shale; and at the north open-cast about twenty are similarly employed, and a like number are removing the earth from the top. The bings, however, at the works are pretty well cleared, though a few hundred tons still remain. The executive of the union have issued a fresh supply of handbills, giving the names and description of some more of the " blacknebs”. A number of district meetings have been held at Champfleurie, Philips-town, Niddry, Pumpherston, and Dalmeny, in which. the miners have been urged, to take a weekly holiday, as otherwise they will, it is pointed out, almost certainly to be called on to submit another reduction should Broxburn be compelled to resume on the full reduction. Many of the men, however, in these districts, especially those who are householders, refuse to take these holidays. The miners at Curldribs are still going, and send, it is estimated, about 80 tons of shale a day to Broxburn Works.

Coatbridge Express - Wednesday 16 November 1887


Article Synopsis: New Carldubs mine (80 tons shale/day) not idle yesterday. Last night meeting agreed not to resume until after Broxburn settlement. Pickets were appointed. Also Holmes' miners meeting last night agreed today as holiday. Several other districts expected to be idle today.

THE BROXBURN STRIKE. The men at the new mines at Carldubs, belonging to the Broxburn Oil Company, from which some 80 tons of shale are now bring extracted per day, were not idle yesterday as was expected. A meeting of the men, however, with several of the Union Executive, was held last night after the men ceased work, and they agreed not to resume till after a settlement of the present dispute was come to. Pickets were appointed to be at the mines this morning to see that none commenced. A meeting of the Holmes miners was also held last night near the mine, when it was agreed that to-day be observed as a holiday, to limit the supply of shale and crude oil to Broxburn. Several other districts are expected to be idle to-day.

Edinburgh Evening News - Thursday 17 November 1887


Article Synopsis: A meeting of the shale miners of Broxburn, Holmes, Niddry, and Newliston was held yesterday in the Public Hall, Broxburn. The men having adopted the five days a week policy with the view of reducing the stocks, and stopping the other companies from supplying Broxburn. The chairman congratulated the men on the manner they had conducted the strike during the last 20 weeks.

THE BROXBURN STRIKE. A meeting of the shale miners of Broxburn, Holmes, Niddry, and Newliston was held yesterday in the Public Hull, Broxburn. Mr Shannon presided. The day was observed an idle day, the men having adopted the five days a week policy with the view of reducing the stocks, and stopping the other companies from supplying Broxburn. The chairman congratulated the men on the manner they had conducted the strike during the last 20 weeks. A letter from Cunninghame-Graham was read. It asked them to keep up their hearts. lie would be with them again as soon as possible. A resolution was passed expressing sympathy with Mr Graham, and indignation at the government.

Edinburgh Evening News - Friday 18 November 1887


Article Synopsis: Strike now lasted 20 weeks, no immediate prospect of settlement, embittered relations. Miners standing firm, offered half the reduction, but was not accepted by employers. Discussion on wages offered per shift, or tonnage or fathomage and compared with wages paid by other oil companies.

THE BROXBURN SHALE MINERS' STRUGGLE. This strike has now lasted 20 weeks, and it is evident that there is no immediate prospect of a settlement, the relations between the employers and the strikers being more embittered than ever. It will be remembered that the dispute arose through the employers reducing the men's wages by 4d per ton. The men offered to halve the difference, as had been done at Pumpherston and Holmes, but to this the employers would not agree. The men, however, remained firm, and were encouraged in their attitude by numerous subscriptions which began to come in towards their support. This led to the eviction of a number who occupied the company's houses, and while some dozen families have been accommodated in wooden sheds erected for the purpose, and numbers in other quarters, not a few of the miners meanwhile took their departure for other mining centres, many of whom, it is said, are willing to return when a settlement is come to. In view of the fact that other 29 persons -chiefly oncost men- have been warned to remove from their houses on or before noon to-day, the officials of the miners' union have made a contract with a local joiner to erect another shed to accommodate 13 families. Regarding the present position of affairs, it has resolved itself into a question of who are to be the victors in the present dispute, and not a question of money. The employers are anxious to be freed from the strictures of the present union. They have refused to give the strikers as a whole 4s a shift, but are offering 4s 6d and upwards to strangers. The employers state that their works are in full swing, and that they have sufficient available material to keep them going till the month of March. They propose, however, to put out bills through the various mining centers stating that the company having some time ago opened their mines and offered employment to their miners at the rate of wages paid by other oil companies, which offer was rejected by a portion of the miners still in Broxburn, in addition to the men already working, require a number of good, steady miners, who can easily earn from 4s 6d to 5s 6d a- day. The men, on the other hand, ridicule this statement, and say they are prepared to show from the check-weigh-men's books that on the reduction the men could only make on an average 3s 6d to 4s a-day on a 2-1/2 ton darg, which is 10 cwt. more than they could produce prior to the dispute. The miners at the new mines at Curldubs, who struck work at the end of last week, were being paid by the contractors 5s and 5s 6d a shift, but these miners, being for the most part members of the Union, there was no alternative but that they should cease work when they came to the shale until a general settlement was come to. Yesterday six miners called at the Miners' Union office stating that they had come from Auchinleck, Ayrshire, intending to begin work, being informed that the strike was practically over. They declared they had been misled, and were going to return home. A number of their comrades from Ayrshire had also agreed to come, but they had telegraphed them to stay at home. They also handed ever to the union executive several letters they had received from Mr M. N. Henderson, work's manager, in which they were offered 4s 6d a shift, or tonnage or fathomage. Letters also flow in to the union office from various parts of the country, stating how agents or contractors of the company are treating men with a view to inducing them to go to Broxburn; but who, after getting as much beer as possible, refuse to go.

Glasgow Herald - Thursday 24 November 1887


Article Synopsis: Settlement of the strike. A conference was held. Value of Scottish Oil shares halved in 6 months, loss to shareholders £1.25million. No profit for oil companies, now in crisis, need for reduced prices. Miners never meant to extract blood from a stone. Discussion on prices of shale products (foreign products ruled prices of liquid products). Ultimately at the conference following was agreed: (1) Union recognised, (2) 22nd September agreement stands, (3) forego legal eviction claim of 10s, (4) House rent paid in instalments, (5) nine hours working day, (6) 5 days working week, (7) the men get their old places back. Regarding the 'reduction', advised to negotiate half by 1st January 1888.

SETTLEMENT OF THE BROXBURN STRIKE. On Monday, Mr Kerr, a member of the Glasgow School Board, who brought about a settlement of the late dispute between the Caledonian Railway Co. and their employers, visited Broxburn to mediate in the dispute between the Broxburn Oil Company and their miners -- now over twenty weeks' old. According to previous arrangement, a conference was held in the Company's office at Broxburn between several of the directors and a deputation of the men; and the Company agreed to allow Mr Wilson, the miners' secretary, to take part in the conference. There were present Mr Robert Bell, chairman of the Company ; Mr Wm. Kennedy, managing director; ex-Councillor Steele, director; Mr N. M. Henderson, works manager; Mr A. Kennedy, mining manager; Mr Jamieson, mining engineer; Mr M. Cowan, cashier ; Mr John Wilson, miners' secretary; a deputation of nine miners, &c. Mr Bell, in moving that Mr Kerr take the chair, expressed the hope that the meeting would be a credit to those concerned, and that everything that would be said would be spoken in a friendly spirit. Mr Wilson seconded the motion. Mr Kerr, in taking the chair, recognised the honour they had done him. The matter had given him a great deal of anxiety and consideration. They could not all get their own way, and there must be some give and take if a settlement was to be arrived at. He hoped the result of their deliberations would be an honourable settlement of the question. Mr Kennedy, managing director, in opening the discussion, referred to depreciation of their shares in the Stock Exchange, and remarked that the value of Scotch oil shares in six months had been reduced by one-half, -- the total loss to shareholders being £1,269,960. He proceeded to show that the oil companies last year in reality did not make a shilling of profit. The truth was they had come to a crisis, and if there was not a change in prices, the shale industry could not be continued. He then went on to compare the prices of products last year with this year, admitting that while liquid products and shale were lower, ammonia was higher; but when they balanced the matter there was loss of £74,345. He assured Mr Wilson and the deputation that there would never have been a reduction of their wages at all but for the pure necessity of the case. Mr Wilson wished to make it clear that they never meant to extract blood from stone. They had no desire to injure the oil companies, or the oil company in whose premises they were met. He then proceeded to show that the men could not agree to such a reduction without at least doing something to prevent further reductions. It was a question of fighting the cause of the reduction rather than the reduction itself. All the arguments he had used against the reduction were taken from the newspapers, the Oil and Colourman's Journal, and speeches of the directors themselves. A long discussion here took place between Mr Kennedy and Mr Wilson as to the rise, fall, and present prices of shale products, the result of which seemed be that the conference agreed to the view that foreign products ruled prices of liquid products, and the home products that of ammonia; but Mr Kennedy would not admit that it ruled the price of shale as advanced by Mr Wilson. Mr Wilson held that, in the whole circumstances of the case, the men's demand for half of the reduction was reasonable. They had suffered a great deal from this struggle, and perhaps he had suffered greatest of all, as he and his colleague had got no wages during the dispute, but were living like the other miners, and had therefore no interest in prolonging the struggle, but on the contrary wanted to act fairly and honourably with the Company. If he had said anything acrimonious, he was sorry for it. Mr Kennedy was glad to meet with Mr Wilson in the spirit he had met him, though his facts were at variance with his. Mr Kennedy then pointed out that the Company gave the miners 2d. per ton when no other works got it, which the Company found to be a blunder, as the men then restricted their output, causing a loss to the Company of £7000 a-year. In another long discussion to prices of products, Mr Wilson contended that prices were better in the winter months than in the summer, and Mr Kennedy held that it made no difference, as contracts were made, and though prices rose in the winter the manufacturers were not the gainers. It was an absurd way of doing business, but it was the rule, and the Company could not help it. Mr Kennedy, however, thought that these matters were out of the province of the men to discuss; but Mr Wilson said that in advising the men his advice was based on the market values the products they helped to produce. The discussion then resolved itself into the question of the amount of shale miner on the average could produce, considering the extra difficulties he now worked under through “long ends," as compared with earlier times -- eight or ten years ago. Mr Kennedy maintained his old portion that the men could dig 3 tons per day, while Mr Wilson said that the check-weigh-man's books showed the average darg before the strike to be 1 ton 19 cwt. He believed, however, that the average darg was 2 tons 7 cwt. Mr Kennedy held that the men did not work full time, and it was admitted the men did not get "cleek." Ultimately the following proposals were agreed to:
1. That there be a due recognition of the union of the men.
2. That the basis of agreement of 22nd September, as to payment of deficiency, be agreed to as a fair basis.
3. That the Company forego their claim of 10s. on each evicted miner.
4. That the house rent running on be paid by the men in installments to suit them.
5. That the hours be nine hours from bank to bank.
6. That each man work not less than five days a-week, but that the mines be kept open six days, and that general holidays be taken not oftener than once in six weeks, and a week's notice to be given.
7. That all men who commenced the dispute be taken back to their old places as far as possible, and that said places be kept open ten days till they returned.

A long discussion followed on the point of reduction. Ultimately the Chairman suggested that the men return on full reduction, and that Mr Kennedy go back to the Mineral Oil Association, and endeavour to get it to give back half reduction not later than 1st January. Mr Kennedy, after consulting his colleagues, agreed to this. He thought that, the Company having "caved in" all other points, the men should meet them on this. He could not go further. Mr Wilson thought a fortnight long enough to work on reduction. Ultimately, he and the deputation agreed to it, subject to the approval of the general body of men.

Dunfermline Saturday Press - Saturday 03 December 1887


Article Synopsis: Conference between Broxburn Oil and miners resulted satisfactorily. The protracted strike regarded as ended. Miners agreed to go back to work on full reduction of 4 pence/ton. The strike ought never to have taken place. The state of trade had rendered a reduction of wages absolutely necessary. The miners gave in on wage demands, but gained major concessions (recognition of the miner's union, 9 hours working day, the day's "darg", five days working week, forego legal eviction debt).

END OF THE BROXBURN STRUGGLE. Monday's conference between the Broxburn Oil Company and the miners resulted satisfactorily, and the protracted strike may, at last be regarded as at an end. No doubt, this result is due in some measure to the fact that both parties are tired of the dispute, and have suffered from the strike. The men have been idle for more than twenty weeks, and the loss of wages cannot have been easily borne by them. The strike ought never to have taken place. If such a conference as was held on Monday could have been held six months ago, it probably would not have taken place. The quarrel, like most quarrels, has been based on misunderstanding, and the misunderstanding continued because the parties could not or would not come together in friendly conference to satisfy doubts and give explanations. Had men believed, as they seem now to do, that the state of trade had rendered a reduction of wages absolutely necessary, they could not have held out so long against it. Had they been better informed and advised at the beginning, and had they accepted the reduction as they have now done, there is little doubt that the Company, on their side, would have agreed to most of the concessions to which Mr Kennedy gave consent on Monday.
The miners have agreed to return to their work on the full reduction of fourpence per ton against which they originally struck. Mr Kennedy, for the Company, has promised to recommend to the Masters' Association that from the 1st of January next reduction shall be only two pence. As regards the question of wages, therefore, the miners have given way. While the question of wages is determined in the favour of the Company, the miners, on their part, have obtained what they regard as concessions of great importance in other directions. First and chief of these is the recognition by the Company of the Miners' Union. The Company for a long time I refused to meet Mr Wilson, or acknowledge his right to come between them and their employees. Mr Kennedy remarked on Monday that this was the first time he had met Mr Wilson, and he "was glad to find that I was not such a terrible fellow" after all. It is easy to understand the reluctance of the Company to acknowledge the Union, and the question as to how far the miners benefit by it, and by the intervention of its officials in such disputes as this, is open to discussion. There is room for a strong opinion to the effect that had the dispute been carried on directly between the Company and their employees there would have been no prolonged strike; the men might have been drawing regular wages during the past few months; and their present prospect might have been as good as it is. But their right to have their Union cannot be denied, and the Broxburn Company have come to the conclusion—wisely no doubt--that it is no longer expedient to refuse recognition of its existence and power. All the other points of discussion were amicably arranged. The Company agree to a working day of nine hours from bank to bank. The dispute as to the amount of the day's “darg" was determined by the statement made on behalf of the men that they did not wish to interfere with individuals. Each man may put out as much as he can and will, provided he does not work more than the nine hours. The men demanded a five days' week. The Company have agreed that the men may work only five days, provided they do not all take the same off day. That is to say, the works will be open for six days in the week, but each man may have one weekly holiday. After some discussion, the question as regards general periodical holidays was settled on the understanding that such holidays would be allowed by the Company on condition that there should not be more than one in six weeks, and that a week's notice should be given of each. The Company agreed to the demand of the men that they should forego the ten shillings of legal debt regarding evictions, and also agreed to accent the payment of arrears of rent by easy installments. Nothing is more remarkable than the frank and friendly character of the proceedings at the conference. Both sides may be congratulated, not only on the results, but on the spirit in which these negotiations have been carried on. That such a spirit did not appear at an earlier stage is matter for regret; but, such regrets are unavailing. Probably in the future both parties will understand each other better than they have done.

Weekly Scotsman - Saturday 03 December 1887


Article Synopsis: Broxburn miners' meeting. Union had a meeting with management regarding 'deficiency'. Men working under defined disadvantages (up-throws, down-throws, water, long roads, etc) would be paid extra for the deficiency. Union secretary highlighted importance of Union.

Meeting of the Broxburn Miners.

Last night a meeting' of the miners lately on strike Broxburn was held the Broxburn Town Hall. After new executive committee of 20 members had been elected, Mr. Wilson, secretary the Union, said that he and a number of the late executive had just had a conference with the managers of the works regarding the question of deficiency, when it was agreed that men working under the following disadvantages be paid extra for the deficiency so that they may earn their usual wage, namely up-throws, down throws, water, long roads, extra backing of material, hard holing, lights, crowning roads, and low shale. Men, however, who were not capable of doing fair day's work would not of course be paid the same ratio. If at any time a man thought himself unjustly dealt with, the company offered the Union every facility to get at the truth. (Cheers.) Mr. Wilson also intimated that the company had agreed deduct no back rent till the men had commenced work on the promised advance. (Applause). Mr. Wilson then proceeded say that if the recent struggle did not convince the non-unionists among them of the necessity and benefits of a trade union, nothing would convince them, and counselled the meeting to make the place hot for every man outside the Union. As for the ‘'blacknebs" he had been reading the "Life of General Gordon "—a truly good man- yet with his own hands he had shot traitors to his cause, and it was said had done right. Of course, he did not counsel anything of this kind, but his own belief was that there was no human or divine law for the protection of “blacknebs". He concluded by asking the men to act honourably with the Company, long the Company acted justly with them.

Glasgow Evening Citizen - Wednesday 07 December 1887