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The Rushden Echo, 1st August, 1913, transcribed by Gill Hollis
County Court Case from Rushden

The Minimum Wage Agreement
Conflicting Evidence

At Wellingborough County Court on Monday, before Judge Snagge, Fredk. Glenn, shoe finisher, of 136, Wellingborough-road, Rushden, sued Messrs. Eaton and Co., shoe manufacturers, Fitzwilliam-street, Rushden, for £1/8/0, one week's wages, or damages for breach of agreement.

Mr. Darnell (Northampton) for the plaintiff and Mr. Evelyn W. Jackson defended.

Mr. Darnell said that under the minimum wage statement, plaintiff was entitled to 2/- per week additional wage. When he put in his claim he was given notice to leave. The other men in the factory ceased work on that account. As a result of a conference between the Trade Union officials and the employers an agreement was come to that the notice should be withdrawn, and the men resumed work. At the end of the week, however, plaintiff was told that he must leave, and it was in consequence of this that the action was brought forward.

Plaintiff's Case

Plaintiff, in the witness box, supported this statement, and, in answer to his Honour, said notice was not actually withdrawn to him, but to Mr. C. Bates (President of the Rushden Branch of the National Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives).

In evidence Mr. Bates said the men told him they refused to go to work because they thought Glenn was being victimised. After considerable negotiation the employers agreed to withdraw the notice to Glenn unconditionally.

His Honour : Were you his agent?

Witness : He is a member of the Union. Afterwards, when Glenn was not allowed back at work, I rang up Messrs. Eaton, and they then declared that they made no agreement.

Mr. Darnell contended that if the promise were disputed the employers and employees would never be able to negotiate with any security.

His Honour : Are you saying that the employers are not entitled to enter into a fresh arrangement? If so, there would be no liberty.

Mr. Darnell : This is not a question of liberty.

On Short Time?

Answering Mr. Jackson, plaintiff said that some of the men were on short time during that week, but witness was not; and when he asked why he did not have to go out as the others did (as his notice was withdrawn), Mr. Harry Eaton asked him "Who said it was withdrawn?" Witness told him that Mr. Bates gave him the information, and Mr. Eaton said 'Oh! He'll tell you anything'.

In reply to Mr. Darnell, Mr. Bates said he had been an official of the Union 23 years, and was a magistrate.

In answer to a question by Mr. Jackson put through His Honour, Mr. Bates said he was an ex-officio Magistrate as chairman of the Rushden Urban Council.

His Honour : That's all right. Until you go out of office you are as good a magistrate as I am. That is another link between us.

Frederick Clark, finisher, who was present when the promise to withdraw the notice was alleged to be given, said he came out from work because Glenn was given notice.

His Honour : Had they not the right to give him notice? – Clark : I suppose so.

His Honour asked if it were not infringing

The Employers' Liberty

for the men to come out on that pretext, and witness replied that they "struck" to help each other.

Witness corroborated the promise of withdrawal.

His Honour said that the question of the promise was the point at issue.

Mr. Harry Eaton said he did not agree to withdraw the notice, neither did his brother in his hearing. He told the men he could do without the lot. Mr. Bates had no authority to bring the men back.

Mr. Darnell : Are you a member of the Employers' Association? “ No. There were no negotiations with Mr. Bates.

His Honour : When Mr. Bates came, did you show him the door? Did you ask him what business it was of his? – Witness : I put it worse than that. (Laughter) I told him we could take no notice of him, and that we should not withdraw the notices.

His Honour : If the other witnesses say you agreed to withdraw the notices, is it true? – No.

Are they liars? Yes.

You wouldn't be surprised if they said the same of you? – No. (Laughter)

His Honour : Then honours are easy. (Laughter)

His Honour said it was a serious matter and he would have the case tried by a jury. The case was adjourned.

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