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11 February 2011

Glass bottle makers’ wages – 1888

Along with many other groups of industrial workers in this period, glass bottle makers had their own specialist trade union.

From the late 1880s, the Labour Department of the Board of Trade began to collect information on trade unions which inevitably included details of pay rates and collective agreements covering their members.

The following extract is taken from Statistical Tables and Reports on Trade Unions (second report) (HMSO, 1888), and was in turn extracted by the Board of Trade from the annual report of the North of England Glass Bottle Makers Society.
It should be noted that the union's annual report records that these were relatively good times for glass bottle makers, commenting:

"I am sure it will be a pleasure to all to see the revival in trade; long may it continue, and may this year be a prosperous one to all."

Currency note: wages are shown in shillings (s) and pence (d). There were 12d to 1s – and 20s to one pound (£). NB 1/2d is a ha’penny or half penny.

North of England Glass Bottle Makers.
Rate of Wages &c.
Rate of wages per week: finisher, £1 0s 6d; blower, £1 2s; gatherer, 19s.
Overwork to be paid per gross: finisher, 1s 4d; blower, 10d; gatherer, 10d.
In addition to the above, each man to receive 2s per week for rent, and 15cwt of small coals every three weeks in the winter months, November, December and January, and every four weeks during the remainder of the year, holidays included, but should any man be off work he must pay the proportion of rent to the man who may be at work for him.

Spare Hands’ Coals.
Spare hands or props to be allowed 15cwt of small coals for every 17 journeys they work all the year round, it being understood that they will not get more than one load in any one month; or the masters can pay them 3 1/2d per journey for all they work.

Blowers’ Wages.
For blowing open mould or open shuts of pale blue or amber metals or bottles turned in the mould or the mould turned on the bottle, of any sort of metal, £1 6s with rent and coals.
For blowing green or half-pale metal bottles up to 1lb 10ozs in weight, £1 4s; but should the bottles be made to exceed 1lb 10ozs in weight, the wages to be £1 6s with rent and coals.

Source: Statistical Tables and Reports on Trade Unions (second report) (HMSO, 1888).

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