Meeting of Council, 8pm, December 7th, 1897
Room 3. Floor 3. 9 Albert Square
Present Miss Bulley Chair, Miss Cox, Miss J. Gaskell, Mrs. Sidgwick, Mr. Herford, Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Dickson
Letters of apology for inability to attend were received from Mrs. Schwann, Mrs. Lyttleton, Mrs. Arnold, Miss Ashton, Miss Hertz, Rev. S. A. Steinthal, Canon Hicks, Mr. G Barber, Mr. J. Johnston, Mr. Hatch M. P., Miss Higginson.
The minutes of the last Council meeting were read and passed.
The minutes of the last Executive Committee meeting were also read & signed.
A report of the work done since the last meeting of the Council was given.
A meeting had been held for Fancy Box makers on November 25th at 66 Grosvenor Street. It was well attended, between 60 & 70 girls being present. Miss Bulley, Mrs. Dickenson & Miss Ashwell spoke, Mrs. Arnold sang & Miss Cox recited. Thirty two girls gave in their names as willing to form a union. Since then a further meeting had been held at the office on the 29th, when 10 girls commenced their payments: and another meeting was summoned for December 8th, to which all the thirty two girls had been invited to attend. The Fancy Box Makers were joining the Federation of Women Workers, & forming themselves into a branch of it for the time being.
Information had been received that there had been a fall in prices of certain articles at Messrs. John Noble’s Works, Upper Brook St. owing to the introduction of Jewish labour by the directors. One of the workers at Messrs Noble’s was communicated with, and told that if help was required it would be given. The workers had since regained part of their lost prices, and had been successful in their attempt to secure the abolition of Jewish labour at the factory. Mr. G. D. Kelly Sec of Manchester Trades & Labour Council, had rendered valuable help to the workers. Since then they had come to see that they required a trade union to protect their interests. They had applied to the M. S. & D. Women’s Trade Union Council to help them to become organised. Mrs. Dickenson had gone over the factory speaking to the girls in the different departments, and giving tickets for a meeting which was to be held on December 8th, at 6pm, at All Saints schools York Street Sidney Street - All Saints. The speakers were to be Mr G. D. Kelly J.P. Mrs. Dickenson & Miss Ashwell & it was hoped that success would attend the effort. It was proposed to invite the workers to join the Federation of Women Workers, and become a separate branch of it, until such time as it might seem desirable to form an independent trade union among them.
On Monday evening December 6th, an application for help had been received from the skirt factory of Mr. Adam Laidlaw, London Road. The matter was investigated on Tuesday, Decembr 7th. It appeared that on December 2nd the machinists were offered certain reductions on skirts.
On quality a a reduction of 9d was offered
On quality b “ “ 6d “
Only quality c “ “ 3d “
On Dec 2nd, 3rd & 4th the girls had declined to take the skirts at the prices offered. They remained in their work rooms arguing the matter, and doing other work. On Thursday Dec 6th a compromise was agreed to, and they began the skirts, accepting quality a at a reduction of 41⁄2 d instead of 9d offered, quality b at a reduction of 3d instead of 6d offered, quality c at a reduction of 11⁄2d instead of 3d offered.
The experience had taught them that they needed a trade union to protect their interests. On December 7th Mrs. Dickenson & Miss Ashwell saw them in their dinner hour, explained how a trade union would help them, gave them bills, & invited them to attend the meeting in All Saints schoolroom on Dec 8th. The Jewish Tailors Machiners & Pressers had taken steps to organise the women working in their trade. They sent an application for two speakers to attend a meeting at the Jewish Labour Hall on Nov 30th. Mrs. Dickenson & Miss Ashwel l& also Mr.?? Secretary Jewish Trades Council went & spoke at to the girls. The meeting was well attended, between 70 & 80 women being present. The membership was increased from 20 to 73 that night. A further meeting was to be held on December 7th to which Mrs. Dickenson had gone. The girls were to be organised as a branch of the Jewish Tailors Machiners & Pressers Union, to conduct their own business& to act and with the men’s union in all matters affecting wages.
Miss Bulley then stated that the sub-Committee which had been empowered to make up a Fair List of Laundries had gone through the mass of information which had been collected, and had drawn up two lists, one an unclassified list which would be printed, the other a classified list which it was proposed to keep in the office in writing. A proof copy of the unclassified list was passed round in the meeting. In all 153 laundries has been visited. For the most part the medium & large laundries had been seen by permission from the proprietors, 40 laundries having been thus seen. The 40 laundries employed 630 women, the majority of those in the trade. With a few exceptions the refusals had been in regard to the smaller laundries, where the family of the proprietor were among the workers, or were the only workers. It was calculated that such laundries did not employ more than 400 women among them. It had been found extremely difficult to procure adequate information as to wages. The women’s hours were irregular & the only chance of seeing them in their own homes was on Monday mornings, when they were busy with housework. At all other times they were practically inaccessible. The wages of the workers were good, & it was acknowledged that the washers were the only class of workers in the trade, who could complain of low wages. Hours & general conditions were the main grievances of the laundresses. In view of the fact that a heavy demand would be made upon the time of the Council’s organisers, and the issue of the list delayed for some months longer, if the enquiry as to wages must be carried through, the Executive Committee had resolved to issue the list without further delay.
The subject of the Council’s Annual Meeting was brought forward. It was desired that the members of parliament on the Council should be present, and that the meeting should be held before February 8th with this end in view. Arising out of this matter it was pointed out that the Council’s financial year did not the end until January 31, which would make it difficult to hold the meeting before February.
Mr. Herford proposed and Mr. Hamilton seconded that the accounts be closed, and the financial year end, on Dec 31st instead of Jan 31st as formerly.
Mr. Dickson then proposed and Mr. Herford seconded that in default of the Executive Committee, which should have held a meeting on Dec 7th, the officers of the Council be empowered to make the necessary arrangements for the annual meeting.
Miss Bulley then announced that the following resignations had been received since the last meeting of the Council, Mrs. Swanwick on account of pressure of other work, Rev. F. Dormer Pierce on account of his departure from Manchester & Miss Higginson on account of pressure of other work. The resignations were accepted with regret. It was resolved while accepting Miss Higginson’s resignation from the Executive to press her to remain on the Council.
Miss Cox proposed and Mr. Herford seconded that Mr. Praed be elected a member of the Council as well as the Executive Committee.
The resolutions passed at the Home Work conference of the Women’s Industrial Council were read to the meeting by the chairman.
A Amy Bulley.