Antiqua Print Gallery South Wales Miners lockout 1875
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South Wales Miners lockout 1875

it was not until the 1870s that trade unionism established itself widely across the developing South Wales coalfield. Then, the Lancashire-based, Amalgamated Association of Miners built up a membership of 42,000 miner in South Wales. In two long and bitter disputes in 1871 and 1875, however, the A.A.M. was defeated. The defeat was partly due to the continuing hostility of the Coal owners to trade unions-'blackleg' labour was imported into the coalfield to replace strikers. It also resulted from the weakness of the union itself., as this newspaper extract of June 1871 indicates:- ...Colliers' Strike in South Wales.-The first installment of the promised strike money was paid to the colliers by the agents of the Union on Friday. It amounted to 2s.2d. per man. Inasmuch as the men had been out of work for three weeks at the time of the first payment this "advance" amounts to a fraction less than 9d. per head per week. The colliers now a-'re of one opinion, that the Union is nothing but a deception. In fact, most of the men are ashamed of themselves, that they have been so foolish as to expect 10s. a week and now at the end of three weeks only receive 2s.2d. It can truly be said that the Amalgamated Association of Miners received its death-blow on Friday in the Aberdare and Rhondda Valleys. Every member, we have no doubt in this district repents the day he joined such a rotten concern. Source: The Western Mail, 12 June, 1871 Following the collapse of the A.A.M. a number of separate District Unions were set up in South Wales and these represented the miners on the Sliding Scale Committee where together with the Coal owners they regulated wage levels. Many of these 'unions' were in fact little more than organisations set up and controlled by the Coal owners and they were totally opposed to strike action. (