International Working Men’s Association

The Minute Book of the General Council
August 1866

Central Council Meeting
August 7, 1866

The minutes are in Cremer’s hand on pp. 152-54 of the Minute Book.

Vice-President Eccarius in the chair.

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed.

Reports of Deputations

The General Secretary reported that the London Society of Compositors had elected their secretary Mr. Sely[244] as a delegate to the Geneva Congress. Mr. Cremer also read a letter from the General Secretary of the Amalgamated Engineers [Allan] stating their Council declined to send a delegate or to give permission for deputation to visit their branches. He also reported that the Bookbinders (dayworking) had agreed to join the Association. The Vellumbinders had adjourned the question till their next general meeting.

Jung reported that the Brushmakers had also deferred the question to their next meeting.

Le Lubez reported that the Chairmakers and Carvers had also deferred the question till they had a larger attendance.

Correspondence

Citizen Marx read a letter from Belgium asking information in regard to the Congress.

Report of Standing Committee

Citizen Marx reported that at the last sitting of the Committee only himself, Citizens Jung and Dupont were present. He requested the attendance of the British members at the next sitting.

The Sheffield Conference

The President reported that a resolution had been passed thereat urging all trade societies to join the International Association.[245]

Transatlantic Postage

Citizen Fox brought forward this subject and stated some facts to show the exorbitant rate of letter postage between Britain and the United States. He said that the British rule governed the Continental rates and he advised that after the Geneva Congress the Central Council should send a deputation to the postmaster general to ask him to concur in the American proposition for a sixpenny letter rate. The subject [was] then dropped.

Fox stated that the Vorbote was publishing Memoranda of the discussions of the Geneva branches on the Congress programme.[246]

The Council then adjourned.

H. JUNG, President pro tem.

Central Council Meeting
August 14, 1866

The minutes are in Cremer’s hand on pp. 154-57 of the Minute Book.

Citizen Jung in the chair.

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed.

Reports of Deputations

The Secretary reported his visit to the Coachmakers with the result as expressed in the following letter:

Here a clipping from The Commonwealth, No. 180, August 18, 1866, is pasted into the Minute Book.

29, South Street, Manchester Square, W.,
Aug. 8, 1866

Sir, — The result of your attendance on the Coachmakers’ Friendly Society, Berwick Street, tonight has been that we have appointed ten delegates to wait upon the ten Societies in connection with our trade, to lay before each Society your circular and explain it to them, taking your own lucid statement as our “model.” I have been desired by the sub-committee (the ten) to request you to forward twenty-four circulars, Addresses, and Rules, so that we may forward a copy to each of those Societies and so that each of us may have a copy to “read up” in before we wait upon them; our object is to endeavour to get each to act, as we intend to try and make our Society act in unity with you. I suppose you will receive a note from our secretary (Mr. Todd), explaining that your circular and explanations cannot be brought before our Society, until its general meeting in January, when we intend that the International Working Men’s Society’s claims shall have the preference to all other business, and, if in the meantime, the other Societies can be urged to do likewise, the time will not have been altogether wasted. I hope to come amongst you as a united body.

Wishing you every success in your (our) undertaking, allow me to subscribe myself, your well-wisher, and hope to be your obedient servant.

Edward Reaveley,

For the committee of ten appointed by the London Coachmakers’ Friendly Society, to forward the objects of the International Working Men’s Association.

To Mr. Cremer, 18, Bouverie Street, E.C.

The newspaper clipping ends here. The continuation of the minutes is in Cremer’s hand.

The Secretary also stated that the Packing-Casemakers had joined the Association and would collect subscriptions among their members for the Geneva Congress. They were too poor to vote money from their funds.

Citizen Jung reported t hat the Plumber Brass Finishers had given them word to join the Association but had formally deferred their decision till their next meeting.

Messrs. Reynolds and Long for the Hand-in-Hand Coopers handed in six pounds as the contribution of that body to the expenses of the Geneva Congress.

Cremer and Yarrow proposed: That the above body of coopers be admitted as an affiliated branch of the Association. Carried unanimously.

Citizen Yarrow stated the Alliance Cabinet-Makers would hold a general meeting on Thursday next and the question of the Geneva Congress would then be discussed.

Citizens Jung and Cremer promised to attend.

Correspondence

Citizen Dell read a letter from the Secretary of Operative Bricklayers’ Society stating they could not pay their contribution as the accounts had not been audited.

The General Secretary stated that it was not his province to prepare balance-sheets, although he had done so months ago and Mr. Coulson had been appointed auditor but had never attended. If there was any neglect or delay it was with those who had been appointed auditors but had not performed their duty. Such complaints came with a bad grace from Mr. Coulson.[247]

Auditors

Citizens Weston and Buckley were appointed to audit the accounts on Friday next at half past six.

Secretary Salary

Cremer stated there were some arrears owing to him and asked that it should be paid or that he should be relieved from his appointment as a paid officer.

Carter and Fox proposed that 25s. be paid Secretary. Carried unanimously.

Correspondence

Citizen Fox read a letter from Lyons of which the following is a translation:

Then follows a clipping from The Commonwealth, No. 180, August 18, 1866.

Lyons Workmen, the War and the British Reform Movement

The Lyons correspondent of the International Working Men’s Association writes to the Central Council of this Association as follows:

“Lyons, August 9, 1866

“In respect to the war, opinions are unsettled. However working men are beginning to throw off that narrow patriotism which made them embrace the quarrels of potentates and edged them in to sacrifice themselves for the interests of the former. All are beginning to see that their interests and ours are not identical, and that all working men have a common interest, and that their greatest enemies are the parasites of their own nation.

“We received some numbers of the Courrier Franšais, and we liked well the ideas it propagated.

“Our enemies found a pretext for annihilating it, but they could not annihilate the ideas it represented.

“We live in hopes that other journals will resume the work it left unfinished. The arbitrary rule which governs us does not wish the truth to penetrate into the provinces. We be the English working classes to persevere in the attitude which they have recently assumed; let them show themselves determined and courageous, let them confront all menaces and they will obtain that reform which is the first step towards social amelioration.

“You will oblige us by giving us some details concerning what has taken place in London, and indicating to us clearly the spirit which animates this movement, for the journals suppress the essential part of it.

“I cordially salute you,

“Ad. Schettel.”

The newspaper clipping ends here. The continuation of the minutes is in Cremer’s hand.

Citizen Fox also read letters from Bordeaux and Vienne (Isere). The latter asked for 130 cards of membership, also that the following should be appointed correspondents for that department: Citizens Ailloux, Waguenay and Marcheval.

Citizens Dupont and Le Lubez proposed their election. Carried unanimously.

Election of Councilmen

Citizen Lafargue proposed Citizen Le Maitre as a member of Central Council.

A discussion took place on the proposition, his election having been on a former occasion opposed by 5 of his workmen.

Citizens Marx and Lubez proposed that an official letter be sent to the five men and the election postponed.

Citizens Hales and Yarrow proposed that they be written to to come before Standing Committee at 8 o'clock. Carried unanimously.

Report of Standing Committee

Citizen Marx gave report. They suggested that the General Secretary be paid 40s. per week and to be appointed by the Geneva Congress itself.

A discussion took place on the proposition which was opposed by Citizen Dell who preferred a graduated scale of payment.

An amendment was proposed to the effect that 30s. be the rate of payment, but the amendment was withdrawn and the resolution was carried unanimously.[248]

Citizen Dell read a letter he had written in reply to Mr. Coulson. The letter was endorsed by the Council and ordered to be sent.

The Tailors and the Geneva Congress

Citizen Eccarius reported that the Tailors had that night decided to send a delegate to the Geneva Congress.

The resolution had been carried with enthusiasm.[249]

The Council then adjourned.

GEO ODGER, President

Meeting of Central Council
August 21, 1866

The minutes are in Cremer’s hand on pp. 157-58 of the Minute Book.

President Odger in the chair.

The minutes of the last meeting were read and confirmed.

Here a clipping from The Commonwealth, No. 181, August 25, 1866, is pasted into the Minute Book.

The first business was the

Reports of Deputations

Cit. Jung reported that he had waited on the Cigar Makers’ Committee, who had convened a general meeting of the members to receive a deputation from the Council. He had also waited on the Scale Makers, and had arranged to visit them a second time. He further reported visits to the Tin Plate Workers and Curriers, both committees courteously received him and promised to bring the question before the next general meeting.

The General Secretary, Cit. Cremer, reported that himself, Citizens Lessner, Haufe, Massman, and Yarrow, had waited on the Organ Builders and Upholsterers, and had been requested to attend their next general meetings. The Secretary also stated that the Alliance Cabinet-Makers had at a general meeting recommended a levy of 6d. per member towards the expenses of the Geneva Congress.

Citizens Weston and Hales reported that they had waited on the Brass Finishers, and discussed with the members the principles of the Association. They had been invited to attend again.

Cit. Le Lubez reported his visit to the Stove Makers. They had urged him to attend their general meeting.

The Geneva Congress

Some further arrangements, in connection with the above, were then made, when the Council proceeded to discuss the report of the disturbances between the English and Belgian excavators at Eastbourne. The General Secretary was ordered to get all the information possible on the matter, if necessary to take action, and to report at the next sitting of the Council.[250]

The Manchester Tailors’ Lockout

Cits. Lessner and Lawrence reported that 700 tailors were locked out in Manchester, and fearing their late employers might try to get men from the Continent, they invoked the assistance of the International Working Men’s Association on their behalf. As some doubts were expressed in relation to the continuance of the lockout, it was agreed to suspend any Continental action until the arrival of confirmatory intelligence from Manchester; but in case of danger, the Secretary was to act immediately.[251]

International Postal Rates

The following resolution was then proposed by Citizens Cremer and Lessner: “That the delegates at the Geneva Congress be requested to urge on their respective governments the necessity and advantages of a system of International and Ocean Penny Postage.” In proposing the resolution Cit. Cremer said that the realisation of such a project would greatly facilitate the efforts of the Association in bringing into fraternal intercourse the workmen of the world. At present the postal rates were so high as to preclude the possibility of frequent communication. The resolution was carried unanimously.[252]

Report of Standing Committee

Cit. Jung brought up the report, which [the newspaper clipping ends here. The text that follows is in Cremer’s hand] report contained a proposition to be submitted to Congress, recommending:

That 9 hours per day including 1 hour per day for mealtimes be the standard day’s work.

As an amendment Cremer proposed and Lawrence seconded:

That 8 hours be recommended as the standard for daily labour. The amendment was carried unanimously.[253]

After some further discussion in reference to that part of the report which contained recommendation as to the employment of women and children, the further consideration of the report was deferred till the next sitting.

Here a clipping from The Commonwealth, No. 181, August 25, 1866, is pasted into the Minute Book.

The Council then adjourned till Tuesday evening next, at 7 o'clock, then to [the words “then to” are in Cremer’s hand] meet for the purpose of discussing and finally deciding on the Congress’ programme, and to elect the delegates from the Central Council. [the newspaper clipping ends here. The last sentence is in Cremer’s hand]

The Secretary was ordered to summon all the members.

J. GEORGE ECCARIUS, Vice-President[254]