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Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Belgians undercutting Englishmen

“The Central Council met on Tuesday evening at 18, Bouverie Street, when Mr. Lee, the secretary of the Excavators’ Society, attended to report to the Council the cause of the late disturbances between the English and Belgian Excavators. Mr. Lee said an agent of Waring Brothers had succeeded in inducing 430 Belgian workmen to come to England and work for less wages than the English workmen were being paid, and the result had been that several Englishmen had been forced out of employment to make way for the cheaper labour of the Belgians. The 430 were made up of excavators, carpenters, and blacksmiths. The Belgians were receiving from 2s. 4d. to 3s. per day, while the wages of the Englishmen, were from 3s. 9d. to 4s. per day. This lowering of wages by the Belgians had caused the late disturbances, which he and his brother members regretted. They were ready to receive the Belgians into their society. He also wished to ask on what terms the Excavators’ Society which numbered several thousands could join the International Working Men’s Association. After the question had been answered, and the whole matter fully discussed, it was resolved — ‘That in case the Excavators’ Society take steps to form a branch in the district where the disturbance occurred, that the Central Council send a delegate speaking the Belgian language to accompany the excavators’ delegates to induce the Belgians to join the Excavators’ Society, also that the Central Council use its influence to prevent the importation of any more Belgians at such reduced prices.’

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