Monday, 14 May 2012

14th May 1812: Thomas Latham at Framework-knitters Select Committee hearing

On Thursday 14th May Thomas Latham, another member of the United Committee of Framework-knitters, gave evidence before the Parliamentary Select Committee into the Framework-knitters Petitions.

Latham echoed Thomas Large's comments of the day before about why single press lace should be prohibited. But Latham also spoke of grievances in the plain silk trade: being forced to do 'coarse' work on too fine a gauge frame, resulting in lost income; hosiers reducing wages for 'deficiencies' in work that the framework-knitters can't do anything about. Latham advocated regulation to prevent these abuses.

Latham also spoke of the practice of 'truck' - i.e. wages paid in goods rather than cash. He cited one example of a framework-knitter who was owed £2, 8s, and was given cloth, buttons and other items which he could only sell for 10s & 6.

Latham was asked to talk about what he earned, and he told the committee it was presently 12s for a 6-day week, but that it had been as high as 18-20s up to 5 years ago, which he considered to be a fair wage.

Latham lay the blame on the production of bad or 'fraudulent' work, which had brought the trade into disrepute, and he noted that the retail price of the goods they were producing had not fallen as had the workmen's wages.

This has been summarised from the Report from the Committee on the Framework-Knitters Petitions, 1812 (247) 2, pp.19-24.

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