Sunday, 3 May 2015

Strike at Skefco Works

Skefco Works, Luton 1912 [Z764/6]

Monday 3rd May 1915: This morning most of the employees of the Skefco Ball-Bearing Company in Leagrave Road, Luton, came out on strike, claiming that one of their colleagues was being victimised. The man applied for an interview with one of the directors but this was refused as he had not pursued his grievance through the proper channels. An urgent appeal has been made to the men to return to work on patriotic grounds, but they have refused to do so. The resident director Mr. T. H. Dryden was in London on business, but following a telephone call he hurried back to Luton and had an interview with a deputation this evening. The meeting was attended by eight men, including the man claiming victimisation, two foremen in that department, the shop foreman, the works manager, and Mr. Dryden. The men not only demanded the reinstatement of their colleague but also an increase in wages, despite a previous increase not becoming due for renegotiation for another couple of weeks. After hearing the man’s case it was felt that far from being victimised he had been treated quite leniently, and the management suspect that the real aim of the strikers was higher pay. Rather than have the output of the works further delayed an increase of ¼d per hour for married men and ¾d for single men was conceded. The man at the centre of the dispute has been invited to see the works’ manager tomorrow morning.

Mr. Dryden has issued a statement in which he declares that the men have acted unreasonably. The company has provided the works athletic club with a well-equipped rifle range at its own expense, and originated the scheme now adopted by other engineering firms in Luton to provide for the wives and dependents of employees serving in the Forces. All the works’ output is being produced for the Government, so the strike is directly affecting the war effort. The accusation of victimisation was groundless, and an increase in hourly wages of ½d had been agreed for married men just ten weeks ago which was to remain in force for three months. On March 31st an offer of ½d to all employees had been made on condition that it was to be a special bonus for regular time-keeping and for remaining with the company until peace was declared. This would have been accumulated and paid at the end of the war. The men had refused this offer. The average pay for all employees, including women, girls and boys, is over 30 shillings a week which compares very favourably with the wages offered by other works.

Source: Luton News, 6th May 1915

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