|The Rushden Echo and Argus, 29th August, 1941, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Shoemen As Ironstone Workers
No Grumbling at Kettering
Considerable interest is being taken by Northamptonshire boot and shoe operatives in the progress of the Government’s scheme for transferring operatives aged between 30 and 35 to work in the ironstone mines. Rushden, like other shoe centres in the country, is closely concerned in the scheme.
Probably well over 200 men in the whole area have already been transferred in this way and many more are expecting to be transferred shortly.
Many hundreds of operatives have in addition been interviewed by Ministry of Labour officials in the last fortnight or so to see what is their attitude to being transferred, the object of the Ministry being to operate the scheme voluntarily.
The scheme, which was launched by the Ministry of Labour a few weeks ago, aims to transfer about 600 men in stage C of the reservation schedule into ironstone working where there is an acute shortage of labour. Stage C consists of boot and shoe operatives between 30 and 35 who would normally be called up for the Services about October. There are about 2,100 of them in Northamptonshire.
An official of the Boot Operatives’ Union at Kettering told a reporter that 75 members of the union from Kettering had already started in these new jobs, most of them having begun last week. It was a little early to say how they were getting on as he had not seen many of them.
“The few I have seen,” he added, “seem to be settling down fairly well. There was no grousing.”
A number of operatives are, however, it is understood, somewhat critical of the scheme, this being the case particularly at Rushden.
Alderman A. C. Allen, J.P., president of the Rushden and Higham branch of the Union, said that some of the operatives in that district were inclined to question why the boot and shoe industry should be called upon to supply the ore mines with labour seeing that the work was of such a different character, and so much heavier than most factory work.
Some men, previously reserved, had in the past been refused the chance of joining up in the Forces because they were reserved, he said. Now they did not wish to be forced into the ore mines when many of them would much prefer to be in the forces and might be financially better off there.
Mr. George Chester (general secretary of the union) told a reporter that he expected 400 operatives from Northamptonshire would have been transferred to the ironstone mines by the end of this week. The remaining 200 needed would probably be transferred within about a fortnight.