Reference: Minutes of the Original Society of Papermakers (1898)
March 5th, 1898.
Brothers In Trade,
Having received your votes upon the Beech resolution, which practically condemns us as a Committee, we feel we have no longer the confidence of the Trade, and therefore we have decided to resign our office. We much regret the fact that it has happened at the present time, seeing we are just starting with our newly-elected Secretary and should have been pleased to have rendered him our assistance in commencing his term of office. But we think the vote of trade is unfair to us as a Committee, and utterly inconsistent with their past action in the matter.
For what we do find. Eight years ago Mr Symons thought he could work his Mill without our men. He attempted to do so. The result was that the whole Trade was in uproar, nearly every mill suggesting something to defeat his object. And, as we have already stated, we spent nearly £400 in the fight. Knowing this, your Committee naturally thought every man in the Trade would have been pleased to have felt the Mill was back in our hands again. Therefore when Mr Symons communicated with us his desire our men, we did not hesitate for a moment in taking action in the matter, and we instructed our late Secretary to interview that Employer. At the same time we pointed out to him our desire that the wages question should be put perfectly clear. And as you know, he at once agreed to pay Wookey Hole price until any further alteration was made.
But mark you, this was upon the distinct understanding that we supplied first-class workmen.
We felt therefore, in the name of the Trade, we had undertaken a very great responsibility, and we were determined to carry that agreement out if we possibly could.
We at once issued a circular asking for applicants, with the result that Sixty applied. But to our surprise, barely sufficient had applied to fill the Vat places, but we ultimately succeeded in filling them up; having got what we thought was a good Mill's Company. But we still found another difficulty awaiting us. At our next meeting when we had hoped to complete our arrangements, we found our two Double Medium men both gone from us, our Vatman had been offered such an inducement to withdraw that he felt it to be his duty to do so, and our Coucher had secured a place in the meantime. We did not blame them in the least for what they had done, but we had to do the best we could under the circumstances. We therefore thought that if men were practically bought from us, and others not caring to go so far away, it was quite time we done something to counteract this, and we therefore decided to pay half the expense incurred in moving to Tuckenhay. And looking at the amount we have spent in the past, we should have thought this would have been approved by the whole Trade.
We must confess we feel disappointed at the vote, having worked for the past two years with the strong desire of seeing uniformity of wages once more in our Society, and just at the time when He could see victory before us we are bound to retire from office, being discredited by the recent vote.