Friday, 2 November 2012

2nd November 1812: 'Combination among Journeymen' - Scottish workers prosecuted for organising

The Leeds Intelligencer carried this story about the State's response to workers organising in Scotland
Combination among Journeyman.—A prosecution was lately brought at Kelso before the Justices of the Peace of the County of Roxburgh, at the instance of the Procurator Fiscal, against a number of journeymen Shoemakers, for having entered into a combination for regulating the wages to be paid by the masters. It appeared that such a combination had been entered into—that money was subscribed and collected for the members who refused to work below the wages fixed by the society, and for the support of their families—that they were connected with similar societies at a distance, both in England and Scotland— that when any of the journeymen belonging to such societies left their place of residence, on being refused the wages they demanded, they were furnished with tickets, entitling them to support from the societies in the towns they went to, so long as they remained out of work, and in the case of prosecutions being brought against them for their conduct as members of such societies, relief was to be afforded them from other societies with whom they were connected, to enable them to pay the fines expences incurred. In a Court holden on the 9th ult. four of the defendants, namely, William Lillie, John Ormston, Alex. Buchan, and John Bell, being found guilty, were committed to the county gaol for 14 days. John Pringle another of the offenders, had absconded, and has not since been heard of. The Justices, on pronouncing judgement, pointed out the illegality of such combinations and the bad effects of them even to the delinquents themselves, and at times intimated, that should a similar instance again come before them, they would inflict a more severe punishment.

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