Thursday, January 17, 2013

HMV - Hayes - The Workers Voice

"Not his masters voice, but the workers voice"


The first general trade union to begin union organisation in the new factories of Botwell, Hayes, West London at the beginning of the twentieth centaury was the National Amalgamated Union of Labour (NAUL).

The Hayes branch of the National Amalgamated Union of Labour was established in September 1911 with a subscription rate of 4d per month, meeting every Friday evening at the Old Crown, Hayes. Middlesex.
Mr T.E. Smith of Gravesend was the National Amalgamated Union of Labour organiser, who began the union drive in the Hayes factory recalled that when he first came to Hayes he had found that the workers “had held aloof from the trade union for fear of being victimised”.

Smith himself had been active in NAUL recruitment on the Clyde in 1911 and was also working on the establishment of a Southall branch of the NAUL.

In September 1911 Joseph N Bell (later Labour MP for Newcastle) spoke to over hundred and fifty men in Clayton Road calling upon them to “combine against capitalism” and W. Watts in January 1913 at Clayton Road schoolstated “In Hayes the future had a bright outlook if only the workers will grasp the weapon within their reach (trade union organisation) there was no time for delay he went on "The meeting in Hayes had been called to show the workers of Hayes the value of organisation, and to give the reason why a living wage (30 shillings a week) cannot be obtained in Hayes without it"

" It was the workers duty and it could be done by them in Hayes,other places had already done it, and they were there that night to convince the hayes workers that they could do it by organsing themselves in a trade union.....In Hayes the future had a bright outlook, if only the workers would grasp the weopon within their reach, there was no time for delay"

T. E. Smith NAUL Organiser stated "there again, there was danger that the men of hayes would be replaced by females, who would work for less wages. But in large industrial centres, Lancashire especially, this could not happen as the workers were organised, and so their trade union stopped it....By joining the trade union they would improve their conditions, and at Hayes, it wanted improving. the whole responsibility rested with themselves"
The NAUL circulated a leaflet around the Hayes area advertising factory gate meetings, one in early 1913 stated

"The Value of Organisation" Come in crowds and hear the truth of why you do not get a living wage in hayes, which is within the London County Council radius. Why remain outside and gamble ? Trust each other and join the union.

The local branch Secretary of the NAULMr W Watt stated "There is no reason why they should not call the local Gramophone factory, not his master voice but the workers voice"

An early test for the union was a strike at the Gramophone works, which erupted in June 1912, when over one hundred men struck. however the strike soon collapsed and non of the men on the original deputation to management got their jobs back.

Another strike took place in June 1913 in the press room at the Gramophone Company in Blythe Road after a wage cut of 3d per hour was imposed, The strike involving over one hundred men and picketing , collapsed when management threatened to sack the strikers, the leaders being dismissed and victimised, Mr T.E Smith of the NAUL heavily criticism those that returned to work. A poem during the strike printed to the local paper gives some insight into conditions faced by the factory workers at Gramophone

Oh dear, oh dear, this awful heat
It nearly suffocates us
If were compelled to stick it long
'twill simply spiflicate us
It didn't seem so 'badly' hot
When we full price, were getting,
But now they've knocked us three pence off
It really is upsetting
We only asked for more fresh air
That we might work the faster
'tis true we struck it several years
But now it's got our master
If they had granted us more air
When we like men applied
We shouldn't have had so much by far
As they've given as now "outside"
Of course it wasn't only air
Alone that we were asking
A few more "extra brads" was what
The "fresh air wheeze" was masking
Still were inclined to try again
Even if our pledge be broken
But we are just a bit afraid
"His master's voice has spoken".

In March 1916 J.A. Seddon MP spoke at a NAUL meeting in Hayes stating that he was "astonished to learn of the low wages some of the girls in the Hayes factories, but was glad tolearn thanks to trade union action a number of special improvements had been secured"

The local National Amalgamated Union of Labour (NAUL) branch Secretary was Mr F.G. Lingard of 9 Neild Road, Hayes

In 1920 The Hayes Branch Secretary of the NAUL was J.C. Haydon of 9 Glebe Road, Hayes, Middlesex. The Hayes NAUL was meeting in 1920 on Fridays at 7:30 at Hayes Restaurant. 

Other local branches included W.A. Taylor of 1 Victoria Cottage, The Green West Drayton meeting at the Kings Head Hotel on alternative Saturdays 7pm. 

W. Johnson 52 Great Road, Brentford meeting at the George the Fourth: and E. Archer 140 Duke Road, Chiswick W4 meeting at the Windmill Hotel: E. Foscali 48 Claxton Grove, Hammersmith meeting at the City Arms.

The NAUL had 44 branches in its London  Thames & Medway District in 1920 (383 nationally) mainly in Kent (especially Northfleet, Gravesend, Dartford area) and East London. 

The National Amalgamated Union of Labour would lose its toe hold in the Botwell factories to the Workers Union (later TGWU) towards the end of World War One, thanks to the efforts of Frank Rosenberg the energetic Workers Union full time organiser and the Workers Union local leader Douglas Page. Page was born in Hammersmith in 1884 and came to Hayes in 1914 working as a beltman, he was a founder member of the Workers Union in Hayes, and became the Hayes Workers Union Branch Secretary by the end of World War One.

From 1924 Page he worked at HMV (later EMI) He was also a prominent Labour Councillor from 1924 and a towering figure in the Hayes Labour movement for the next fifty years. While the union he helped establish in Hayes, the Workers Union, later known as the Transport & General Workers Union (TGWU) would come to dominate Hayes for the next ninety years.

The National Amalgamated Union of Labour

The NAUL was established as the Tyneside & District Labourers Union in 1888, It quickly spread along the Tyne and North East waterfronts mopping up in its wake a number of small locally established societies of Scrappers, Painters, Red Leaders, Helpers and other shipyard labourers. By 1890 it boasted 80 branches with a listed membership of 30,937

William Unwin (Financial Secretary), William Stanley and Joseph N Bell (Corresponding Secretary) with A.T. Dipper (General & Organising Secretary) together with six District delegates, But their task was constantly thwarted by strikes and lock-outs, being forced in 1890 to spend 25.18% of income in strike benefits.
The NAUL were soon boasting District organisations in the Clyde, Belfast, Mersey, Sheffield, Thames and Medway together with their more traditional districts in the North East. 

By the time of the 21st Anniversary Celebrations in 1910, by far the largest of the Districts numerically was Sheffield (9,271). Even the combined strength of the three Districts of Newcastle (3,294), Gateshead (1,597), and Mid Tyne (3,080), on which the strength of the union had earlier been centred, could not surpass it. Only Mersey (7,419), London, Thames and Medway (7,874), and Shields & Wear (6,617) could attempt to rival it.

The NAUL had a considerable hold in the cement works along the banks of the Thames. In London some engineering workers were in the N.A.U.L. and it had a few members in the south-west in cement and one or two other industries
From 1917 the NAUL was in discussions with the Workers Union on possible merger, but a loser Federation was established, with a joint executive committee, this loose Federation was joined by the Municipal Employees Association in August 1918 and by 1919 the three union Federation became known as the National Amalgamated Workers Union.
However, the NAUL became convinced that the Workers Union was using superior numbers and its full time officers to dominate the Federation, this inflamed local disputes between two unions, this coupled with an economic depression and massive reduction in union members (which hit the Workers Union membership and influence most acutely) led to the Workers Union withdrawing from the Federation in March 1922.

National Amalgamated Union of Labour 

1890 82 branches 30,237 members
1900 177                  21.111
1910 177                  16,017
1911 227                   44,972
1912 236                   49,972
1913 255                  60,003
1914 277                  55,453
1915 287                  70,430
1916 292                   85,836
1917 323                123,627
1918 351                143,931
1919 370                155,220
1920 383                 151,922

* note the huge rise in National Amalgamated Union of Labour membership in 1911, 1913, 1915, and almost doubled in 1917

The NAUL would later join the National Union of General Workers to form the General & Municipal Workers Union , now known as the GMB

The National Federation of Women Workers branch secretary was Mrs Hollings of 21 Leonard Road, Southall
Mr T.E. Smith National Union of Labour organiser lived at 183 Old Road, West Gravesend and later (1920) Hillersland, Lennox Road, Gravesend (information on Mr Smith most welcome)

T.E. Smith (JP) was a NAUL Official Delegate, London, Thames and; Medway District