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The National Coal Strike of 1912 was a direct consequence of the complicated wage structure which had evolved in the mining industry by the end of the nineteenth century. The old system of paying miners on the basis of a 'sliding scale', relating wages directly to the selling price of coal, was largely abandoned in the late 1890's and the collier's money calculated in terms of the local 'price-list', negotiated district by district between the Federation 'Lodge' and the owners, plus a percentage agreed by a Conciliation Board under an independent chairman. These price-lists took account of the 'cutting price', or standard rate per ton 'got' from the face, and 'measured-up' for other work, such as repairing timber or clearing 'dirt', which was not directly productive. In most pits there was an additional 'consideration' paid, often unofficially, for work in 'abnormal places', places where variations in the seam, soft roof, water, occurrence of stone, etc., etc., made it impossible for a collier, however skilled, to earn a fair day's wage. Where these allowances were not fixed in the price-list, he was responsible for his own claim. Frequently managements allowed only small fixed sums to cover all claims, decisions between man and man were purely arbitrary and the small number of men involved from pit to pit led to easy victimisation. In 1910-11, 30,000 Welsh colliers struck over the issue and the struggle developed into a fight for a minimum day wage for all colliers. The M.F.G.B., attempting to negotiate nationally for the first time, would at first only sponsor the proposed minimum for 'abnormal places', but in October 1911 resolved in conference 'to take immediate steps to secure an individual district minimum wage for all men and boys working in the mines . . . without any references to the places being abnormal'. Individual districts prepared schedules of minimum rates for each of the various grades of labour, Nottinghamshire, with Yorkshire, asking the top rate of 8s. for hewers and the Federation officially conceding a demand of 7s. 6d. The owners rejected the proposals almost unanimously, although most were now prepared to guarantee 'abnormal places'. The New Year opened in anxiety and gloom and in a national ballot well over half the M.F.G.B. membership voted for a stoppage. Despite government intervention, and to national dismay, the strike began at the end of February. The strike opened at Alfreton in Derbyshire, one of the best conducted pits in the country, and spread slowly as local notices expired. `At the great majority of the Nottinghamshire collieries', it was reported on the first day, the notices expire tomorrow, and at a few of the pits on Wednesday. At the collieries of Messrs Barber, Walker & Co. of Eastwood, where 3,000 men are employed, the miners have agreed to remain at work on Thursday. They have also acceded to the request of the managers to leave their tools and stock in the pit in the event of a stoppage'. The miners generally left work in a holiday mood, a fact which was quickly noted and exploited by the predominantly right wing press. In some localities, including Nottinghamshire 'next to Derbyshire, the wealthiest district in the country' (and perhaps because, 'according to a prominent manager', over production would have compelled a stoppage of many pits early in March in any case) masters and men remained on good terms throughout the strike. There was less confidence nationally. A civilian volunteer force was formed, police in the colliery districts generally were reinforced, and, as nerves began to fray towards the end of March, the army moved in. Strike pay for the colliers, ten shillings a week for full union members, began on Tuesday 5th March. By the 23rd the Notts Miners' Association had spent about £50,000 out of their total funds of £220,000 and it was estimated that the men 'could last out at least another ten weeks.' Meanwhile, miners' families, the Times wrote, 'are able to get along on their savings and strike pay. They are mostly on short commons, but real privation is confined to a few homes where the breadwinner, through arrears of contributions, had depleted himself of strike benefit. Payment of rent for colliery cottages ceased when the strike began, and the companies do not press for it, knowing from past experience that the debts will be discharged in full.' All in all, by Monday, 25th March, 'although during the week-end meetings were held in Nottinghamshire at which determined opposition was manifested to the Government Bill, there was evidence of a strong disposition on the part of the men to return to work at an early date, leaving details to be afterwards settled.' The strike ended uncertainly, and with continuing dissatisfaction among many miners, shortly before Easter. The minimum Wage Act, passed as the price of peace, conceded the principle for which the Federation had fought, although in insisting on district settlements, the owners successfully qualified their victory.