Meeting of Council, Oct 3rd 1899, 3.30pm
Present Professor Flux Chair, Miss Cox, Miss Crompton, Miss M. Spencer, Professor Weiss, Mr. F. Entwistle.
Apologies were received from Mrs. Schwann, Miss Bulley, Mr. Herford, Miss Olga Hertz, Mrs. Redford & Miss J. Gaskell.
Minutes of last meeting were read & passed.
The minutes of the last Executive Committee meeting held on July 4th were also read.
Arising out of the Council minutes the Chairman pointed out that in Mr. Chaplin’s last report re Old Age Pensions the thrift tests were not mentioned.
A letter was read from the Cigar Makers' Mutual Association, London expressing their hearty thanks to the Women's Trades Union Council for the most efficient assistance rendered to Mr. Cooper ( Secretary) & Mr. Rose when they were organising the Cigar Makers in Manchester.
The first meeting of Cigar Makers was held on June 20th, 1899 at St. Michael’s schools, Miller Street.
There were 30 workers present & a branch of the London Society was formed, Mrs. Blezard being elected Secretary.
It was arranged that the women should meet every Monday evening at 9 Albert Square.
Since the formation of the branch two public meetings had been held on August 1st & September 12th respectively. As a result of these meeting the membership had reached 90. The number of cigar makers in Manchester is estimated at 200.
The subscription to the Society is 3d per week & the women are entitled to out-of-work, strike, & funeral benefit. On August 4th a dispute occurred at Mr. Drapkin’s Cigar Factory, Victoria Street. The shop collector (Miss Thomas) was discharged at a minutes notice for being a member of the Union, the employer remarking that he would make an example of her.
A deputation of women waited upon him & pointed out with the exception of five women they were all members of the Society & although their subscriptions were collected by Miss. Thomas, she took no more prominent part in the affairs of the Society than they themselves & therefore ought not to be made an example of, they asked that she might be reinstated.
He replied that the factory would be closed for the August holiday until the 9th inst & those women who would promise to leave the Union might commence work on that date. On no account would he have women working for him who belonged to a Trade Society.
A letter was then sent to Mr. Cooper explaining the position & he replied that he would be in Manchester on August 8th.
The women (35) decided to stay out until Mr. Drapkin had been seen again. On August 9th at 10am a meeting was held at the office & it was decided that Mr. Cooper & two cigar makers (Mrs. Green & Miss Thomas) should see Mr. Drapkin & report result to the meeting.
Mr. Drapkin was seen but still persisted in saying he would not have Trade Unionists in his employ. The place was his own & he would do as he liked.
The women decided to keep away from the factory until Mr. Drapkin should change his mind. Mr. Cooper suggesting the removal of their tools.
When Mr. Drapkin saw that the women were taking their tools away he gave in & told them all to come to work the following morning. Miss Thomas had gone on collecting the women’s money, but it had to be done in the street.
Fancy Box Makers
On July 26th a deputation of girls came to the office from Hugh Stevenson & Son’s Factory.
They said that machinery was being extensively used in the production of boxes & it was tending to reduce their wages. They wished either to join a Society with other women, or have one for the own trade. Literature was given to them for distribution & they were asked to get the names of girls who would be willing to join a Union, so as to see whether there would be enough members to justify a Union being started for the Fancy Box Trade.
The deputation (8) were asked to bring as many girls as possible to the office on Tuesday evening August 1st when a meeting would be held to discuss the matter.
On August 1st it was decided to form a union to be called “The M & S Association of Fancy Box Makers”. Miss J. Muldowney was elected Secretary & the new members (35) agreed to work to the Women's Federation rules for the first year. On August 18th a meeting was held at Hetherington’s Dining Rooms, Pollard St. which was attended by 100 women from Stevenson’s factory. Names were taken of girls willing to join by Miss Muldowney who works at that particular factory. On September 5th a dinner hour meeting was held at Lever St. Schools for the girls working at Kelly’s Fancy Box Works Lever St. 35 attended & agreed to join the Society. Miss Baxendale being appointed as shop collector.
A few days after the meeting the forwoman persuaded Miss Baxendale not to have anything to do with the Union the result being that none of the girls had paid any subscriptions. A public meeting is to be held on Tuesday evening October 3rd to which all the women in the different factories had been invited.
On July 3rd two women from Forshaw's Mantle & skirt factory called at the office about joining a trade union. They were anxious to get if possible all the workers at Forshaws to join. Gave them literature for distribution & arranged a meeting for July 5th at the office which was attended by 8 girls who joined the Federation. July 24th held a dinner hour meeting at Lever Street Schools. 20 girls attended & gave their names as willing to join the Society.
A public meeting is being arranged to take place on October 18th.
The women working at the Wholesale Cooperative Works, Lower Broughton had joined the Tailors' Society & Mr. Flynn was hoping to be able to get Tailoresses in other factories to join the Society. It was reported that Miss Ashwell & Miss Cox were each going to read a paper to the members of the Christian Social Union at their monthly meetings in Nov & Dec. Miss Ashwell taking Home Work & Miss Cox Factory Work.
Mr. J. Johnston moved that the Investigation Sheets be made use of by Miss Cox & Miss Ashwell for their papers. Seconded by Professor Weiss & carried.
The question of cheap trains for workmen was next discussed. It having been suggested that the Women's Societies might take the matter up.
It was resolved that the Executive Council be instructed to cooperate with the Manchester & Salford Trades Council in obtaining signatures to petition in favour of increased railway facilities & cheap trains for workers. Moved by Mr. F. Entwistle. Seconded by Professor Weiss.
The Chairman then stated that a letter had been read to the Executive containing the resignation of Mrs. Dickenson (one of the organising secretaries). She had however agreed to let the matter stand over on until the November Executive Committee meeting. Mr. J. Johnston moved that the Council approve of the action of the Executive. Seconded by Professor Weiss & carried.
The question of finances was then discussed.
A statement had been read to the Executive from the Treasurer which showed at the present time there was not enough in the bank to pay the current expenses. Mr. Entwistle had read a circular issued by the Trades Council appealing for funds to carry on the work. He also suggested several Secretaries whose societies might be asked to subscribe.
Mr. Herford had suggested that each member of the Council try to get one subscriber to give an equal sum to his or her own subscription. It was resolved that the Hon. Secretary & Chairman be asked to send an autograph letter with printed circular to every member of the Council asking them to try & each get a new subscriber.
A. Amy Bulley