The Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) was one of the best established, wealthiest and largest trade unions in Britain. Yet economic liberalism, specifically that miners’ wages had to be determined by coal prices, dominated the thinking of the DMA’s leaders as well as many ordinary Durham miners. The minimum wage was an indispensable way for radicals to attack these notions. As the Liberal-dominated Durham leadership remained hostile, the task of winning converts to the minimum wage fell to the union’s radical activists. This article explores the rank and file movements that coalesced around advocacy of the minimum wage from their re-emergence in summer 1911, and considers the debates on the votes for national strike action on the issue in 1912. It charts the campaigns’ changing aims, achievements and weaknesses after the minimum wage was formally won.
Mates, L. (2013). ‘Seven Shillings is Not Exactly the Millennium’: Economic Liberalism and the Campaign for a Miners' Minimum Wage in the Durham Coalfield to 1914. Historical Studies in Industrial Relations, 34(1), 49-81. https://doi.org/10.3828/hsir.2013.34.3