|Rushden Echo, 13th September, 1918, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Urban District Council
Increased Wages For Workmen
Wednesday, present Councillors T. Wilmott, J.P. (in the chair), F. Knight, J.P., (vice-chairman), J. S. Clipson, T. Swindall, J. Claridge, J.P., C.C., W. Bazeley, J.P., J. Spencer, J.P., J. Hyde, J. Hornsby, J. Tomlin, and F. Green, with the clerk (Mr. G. S. Mason), the Surveyor (Mr. W. B. Madin), and the temporary Sanitary Inspector (Mr. A. E. Lloyd).
Plans, Etc. Committee
A meeting of the Plans, Highways, and Lighting Committee was held at the Council Buildings on Wednesday, August 28th, 1918, when there were present: Messrs. T. Wilmott (chairman), F. Knight, J. S. Clipson, J. Hornsby, J. Spencer, T. Swindall, and J. Tomlin.
were presented for:-
A coal barn to house on the Bedford-road for Mr. M. Bates, and passed.
A motor house (alterations and additions to existing building) for Mr. W. Nurrish near his house on the Higham-road, and passed.
A motor house and conservatory for Mr. S. A. Pallett adjoining his house on the Higham-road, and passed.
A motor house for Messrs. W. Green and Son in Allen-road, and passed subject to 14in. walls being provided.
Additions to the works of the Rushden Chrome Tanning Co., Ltd., on the Kimbolton-road, and passed.
The Committee had under consideration a letter from the Municipal Employee’s Association asking the Council to increase the present rate of War Bonus paid to the Council’s workmen by 5s. 0d. per week. The Surveyor submitted a complete list of the employees, showing particulars of the wages paid to them in 1914, increases of wages since that date, and the present war bonus as fixed in February last.
After careful consideration the Committee were of opinion that an increase of the War Bonus from 7s. to 10s. per week would meet the case, and unanimously resolved, subject to the approval of the Finance Committee, to recommend the Council to make such increase.
The Surveyor reported that as instructed the seat had been fixed at the south end of the Green. With regard to the provision of a circular iron seat he had obtained a price amounting to £13. The Committee did not consider it desirable to proceed with this during the present season.
The County Surveyor’s annual report was received, in which it was stated that the roads in this district were, on the whole, in excellent condition.
Military Service The Fire Brigade Sub-Committee reported that they had met the members of the Brigade with regard to their applications for exemption from Military Service, and having in view the number of efficient men now available resolved to recommend the Council to instruct a solicitor to support the pending appeals of Wooding and Timson.
Apparatus.- It was resolved to recommend the Council to authorise the Brigade to purchase additional hose and other apparatus at a cost not exceeding £40.
With regard to the recommendation regarding workmen’s wages, Mr. Bazeley moved as an amendment “That the bonus be increased 5s. a week to all Council employees, and that the increase come into operation from the week ending July 27th.” He protested against this recommendation coming from the Plans and Highways Committee. The last time the matter came before the Finance Committee, and he thought it should have done this time also. This application was received on July 23rd, and the Plans Committee deferred the matter for a month to go into the question of what wages were received before 1914 and what bonus they had received since. The Council seemed to forget that before the war the workers were organising for better conditions, and if there had been no war there would still have been automatic rises in wages. The increase in wages during the war, therefore, ought not to have a bearing on the question, but they should take into consideration only the bonuses on those wages. He did not know whether any employee of the Council was receiving £2 a week. The reason for this application was the increased cost of living. The price of commodities had gone up 118 per cent. during the war; clothing and boots had gone up 100 per cent., coal was double, gas was more, and so was everything else required in the home. There was nothing unreasonable in the request of the employees. Northampton Town Council had given their employees a bonus of 19s. a week, and Kettering 15s., whereas Rushden had given only 7s., and this 5s. as requested would only make it up to 12s.
Mr. Spencer seconded, and said that the reason he did not move an amendment in Committee was because he did not think he could get it carried. Considering the increased cost of living, he did not regard the request for 5s. a week unreasonable. It was true rent had not gone up, but the price of every household article had gone up enormously.
The Chairman: It is hardly fair to the public of Rushden to give the idea that our employees are getting only 10s. a week war bonus, inasmuch as the wages have gone up all round. Rushden compares well with other towns. If we do not I shall be one of the first to vote for this extra 2s. Our men have been given increased wages equal to any other town in the county.
Mr. Claridge said he did not agree with Mr. Bazeley as to this question coming before the Highways Committee. The great bulk of the labour was under the Highways Committee, and it was only right that the question of increased wages should come before them. He did not understand Mr. Spencer agreeing to the resolution in the Highways Committee and then seconding an amendment here. He should not object to the increase in wages if the demand came from the men themselves, but he did not like this outside interference. If the men were dissatisfied they should let the Council know. He had never heard that the men were not satisfied, and therefore he could not support the amendment. If the application came direct from the men he should support it, because he did not think the rises they had had were sufficient to meet the increased prices.
Mr. Bazeley: The application comes direct from the men, through their trade union. The boot manufacturer might as well say, “I will not consider any claim unless it comes direct from the workmen.”
Mr. Claridge: Did this application come from the Rushden branch?
Mr. Bazeley: Of course it did.
Mr. Tomlin said that Mr. Spencer never raised the question in committee, and he was surprised that he should now move an amendment.
Mr. Hyde: It is their policy to break treaties every time, so you need not be surprised.
Mr. Hornsby thought it would be better to defer the question to make inquiries as to the accuracy of Mr. Bazeley’s statement, regarding Rushden and other towns. He did not wish to sanction anything which would be injurious to the workmen, but, on the other hand, the figures put before the committee satisfied the members that the 3s. increase would be very favourable.
The amendment was lost, only Mr. Bazeley and Mr. Spencer voting for it.
Finance And Estates Committee
A meeting of the Finance and Estates Committee was held at the Council Buildings on Tuesday, September 3rd, 1918, at 10 a.m., when there were present: Messrs. T. Wilmott (chairman), F. Knight, W. Bazeley, J. Claridge, and Fred Green.
The Plans and Highways Committee reported that they had had under consideration the application from the Municipal Employees’ Association for an increase in the present rate of War Bonus paid to the Labourers, and after careful consideration and comparison of the pre-war rate with that at present in force, had agreed to recommend to the Council, subject to the approval of this Committee, that the present bonus be increased by 3s. per week.
The Committee approved.
The report was adopted.
Health And Sanitary Committee
A meeting of the Health and Sanitary Committee was held at the Council Buildings on Wednesday, September 5th, 1918, when there were present: Messrs. F. Knight (chairman), Thos. Wilmott, C. Bates, W. Bazeley, J. Claridge, J. Hyde, and F. Green.
The Report of the Medical Officer for the month of August was received.
Two lots of infected bedding had been destroyed after deaths from cancer upon the advice of the Medical Practitioner in attendance, and the rooms cleansed. It was resolved to recommend the Council to replace part of the bedding destroyed at a cost not exceeding £1 7s. 6d. in each case.
During the past month the carcase of a heifer and a quantity of ham, voluntarily surrendered, had been found to be unfit for human consumption and destroyed in the usual way.
The report was adopted.
A letter was received from the Rushden and Higham District Free Church Council, stating that direct evidence had come before them that gambling was going on in the Recreation Ground, and urging the Urban Council to give the necessary instructions to the police to act.
Mr. Spencer said that cases of gaming with cards had been brought before the Wellingborough Bench. It was very sad to see the amount of gambling which was going on all round the town, and these prosecutions should have the effect of stopping it.
Mr. Claridge thought the Urban Council should do all they could to put an end to this gambling. He thought they should encourage the police to do all they possibly could, and he was satisfied the Wellingborough Bench would do all they could to stop this gaming.
Mr. Bazeley said they all agreed that it was not a very elevating pastime for these youngsters, but the gambling laws were very funny. Gambling was not illegal on a racecourse, nor on the Stock Exchange. This was a very bad example, and the sooner they had different laws with regard to gambling the better.
The Chairman said the feeling of the Council was that they ought to do all they could to support the police.
Mr. Spencer said that his attention had more than once been called to men having a number of boys around them and gambling with them.
Mr. Hornsby said he very much regretted that this gambling had been going on a long time. It did not reflect credit on the town that during this disastrous war men and youths were gambling.
A resolution to take action in the matter was carried.
The Free Church Council wrote soliciting the interest of the Urban Council in the provision of hospitality for American soldiers on leave, and asking if something on the lines of the Kettering scheme could not be adopted.
The Council received the question sympathetically, and on the motion of Mr. Claridge it was decided to reply to the effect that, if the Free Church Council would take the matter up, the Urban Council would support them.