Throughout most of the Glenboig Union Fireclay Company’s history, and certainly in the era of the Dunnachies, the relations between employers and workers at Glenboig were said to be very much of the master-servant type, an attitude of benevolent despotism on the part of the management and of necessitous acceptance on the workers’ side.Born at Pollockshaws, son of a Renfrewshire bleacher, James Dunnachie came to Glenboig at the age of 28. He was a striking figure, of greater than average height, with a reddish brown flowing beard, and he always wore a Glengarry bonnet. A drive-way ran from his house (Glenboig House), down through the works to Glenboig station, and each morning there was something of a ‘royal procession’ of one, with the 8.15am train unloading workers who touched their forelocks as he passed them by.
Excursion of workmen
An excursion of the workmen employed at the Glenboig Union Fire Clay Company Works, Glenboig and Cumbernauld, took place last Saturday under most favourable auspices, both as regards excellent weather and a good turnout of the workmen with their wives and families. The party numbered over 400 including fifty of a contingent from Cumbernauld. The place chosen to visit was Ayr, “The Land of Burns”. Considerable interest was taken in the event, as the trip last Saturday was the first that has taken place in connection with the works for the last twelve years. The committee that was appointed to make the arrangements wrought assiduously to make the trip a success. They also received every encouragement from Mr James Dunnachie, managing partner of the firm, who gave a handsome donation that helped to reduce the price of the ticket, also silk material for a fine new flag which was painted in fine new style by Mr Andrew Sneddon, painter of the works. Previous to leaving in the morning, the excursionists, headed by the village brass band and the new flag, proceded to the residence of Mr James Dunnachie, when upon the motion of Mr James Jack, three hearty cheers were given to Mr Dunnachie for the interest he had taken in the trip. The excursionists left Glenboig in a special train at 7.55 a.m. The route taken was by Muirkirk, though much longer than the route by Paisley, the journey was very much enjoyed. The fields from Mujirkirk to Ayr were ripe with the golden grain, far in advance of anything in this quarter. Ayr was reached at 10.50, where everyone took their several ways, some to the sea shore, others drove to “the banks and braes o’ bonnie Doon”, and for the first time saw Burns’ Cottage, the Monument, the Auld Brig o’ Doon, Alloway’s Auld Haunted Kirk, and ‘the thorn abune the well where Mungo’s mither hang’d hersel’, alas but “nae man can tether time nor tide” the oor too soon approached when all had to wend their way to the station for the return journey, which was fixed at 5.55 p.m. Home was reached safely after nine o’clock, everybody being satisfied with the day’s outing, and hoping it will not be the last. The behaviour of the excursionists was all that could be desired, very few having tasted too much of the ‘barley bree’. Source: Airdrie Advertiser Sept. 1890
The company had formed a Workmen’s Compensation Fund of 10s per £100 of wages paid which equated to £125 per year in the Fund. However, there was some reluctance to dispense the fund.
The 1876 Pay Book shows that James Dunnachie employed 18 miners and 74 others including six women, fourteen boys and five tradesmen at The Star Works. There would also be some ‘drawers’ or miners’ assistants who were not paid directly by the firm. A Millman worked 137 hours for £2 3s 6d at a rate of 3s 2d over a two week period. Another Millman worked 143 hours for £2 9s 6d. A woman helped at the kilns for 1s 10d per day, working 132 hours for £1 4s 2d. A boy brick carrier carried 25,950 bricks for 17s 4d, and the post-boy worked 90 hours for 9s 5d. Moulders, or brick-makers, were paid 2s 1d per thousand bricks and made, on average, about 2,000 bricks each per day. Miners’ earnings were based on output and their earnings ranged from £3 9s 10d to £6 6s 4d for two weeks, less the cost of their own ‘drawers’. By 1881 the work force totalled 157 including 29 miners and 24 drawers.There is no record of James Dunnachie’s salary in 1876, but six years later, in 1882 when he had set up the Glenboig Union Fireclay Company with John Hurll and others, his salary was £600 per annum with a free house and fuel, plus £20,000 and 2d per ton royalties for three patents of his inventions which then became the property of the company. In 1888 after the Hurlls left the Company and James Dunnachie assumed control, his salary rose to £800 per annum.
Wage reductions and strikes.
The years 1882-1895 saw the company struggling and wages were reduced in 1884, 1885 and 1892. But the company came through it and were in a healthy condition by 1895. They suffered a recession in 1901 partly due to the fact that there was a general recession in the country, but also as a result of a breakdown in labour relations. In November 1900 the clay miners began a four day week instead of a six day week when they were refused a 10s per week increase. After four months they began a total strike, by which time 400 men had been laid off in the yards. James Dunnachie employed a professional strike breaker, Graham Hunter, to fill the mines with men. The Directors were reluctant, but ‘friendly efforts with the men direct’ having failed, they brought in foreign workers, mainly Lithuanian, and the strike ended ten months after the original dispute, with victory for the management but at a considerable loss in productivity, revenue and wages, and a cleavage of the former pleasant terms between management and men. We can only wonder at the hardship suffered by the workers during their strike for better pay, and how they must have struggled to feed and clothe themselves and their families.
29/10/1948 – Motherwell Times – On the spot welfare helps brickworkers – Employees in brickworks in Lanarkshire and throughout the country have now been brought into line with workers in other industries in the provision of welfare facilities which include canteen or mess room accommodation at their places of employment. These welfare innovations have been granted to the brickworkers by The Clay Works (Welfare) Special Regulations 1948 which came into operation on 1st October.
The facilities which now become available to brickworkers are washing facilities with clean towels, protective clothing and adequate accommodation for this clothing, together with laundry and canteen or mess room accommodation, shelter for kiln workers and an ambulance room with equipment and first aid requisites.
Interviewed by the ‘Times’ reporter Mr W Scholes, district organiser for the Transport and General Workers Union said that these revolutionary changes in welfare facilities in the clay industry though long overdue, were satisfactory to officials and employees and placed the latter on the same scale as other factory workers. Greatest benefit in Scotland through the changes will be experienced in Lanarkshire and Fife where the largest number of brickworks are in operation. Lanarkshire clay industries where the new welfare facilities will be enjoyed are
Blantyreferme brickworks, Uddingston.
Fallside brickworks, Tannochside.
Stippends (Stepends) brickworks.
Whistleberry brickworks, Blantyre.
Reporting on an inquiry into the Truck system in the Scotsman of 5th Sept 1870. David Cumming the storekeeper at Garscadden Village stated “I don’t know of any (workers) book having been stopped during the two and a half years I have been storekeeper. Fully the half of our trade comes from outside. The advance men are expected to come to the store, but no compulsion is used to carry out the system.”
David Anderson, Merry and Cunninghams local manager at Garscadden states “ No books have been stopped at Garscadden for the last five years, so far as I am aware.
I have no commission, but I get 5 per cent discount when I pay my account half yearly.
It is evident the men understood they were to go to the store, because they did go regularly. I never undeceived them. The men gradually ceased to go to the store as the pressure upon them relaxed – in fact, the less the men were prepared to go to the store, the less they went. In the pay clerk’s office there were no means of checking the men who “sloped” the store. I don’t think many of the pay-men go to the store. They get credit in the village.”
‘required the obedience and loyalty from servants to their contracted employer, with infringements of the contract punishable before a court of law’.
In 1844, an attempt was made to further extend (and clarify) the 1823 Master and Servant Act. The proposed reform would have made workers paid by the piece (hourly paid) subject to the Master and Servant Act, regardless of their trade.
This may account for such articles appearing frequently in the press at the time.
Adverts such as this would have formalised and publicised that a contract between the named individual and the named employer was in existence and thus making it ‘easier’ to prosecute for breach of contract.