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29 September 1848 Strike at Burra

 29 September 1848 Strike at Burra

After the first brief strike at the Burra Burra Mine in mid-September 1848, a more serious stoppage was triggered on 29 of the month when a notice was posted indicating a reduction in wages. This seemed unnecessary as, although there had been a slight fall in the world price of copper, the three dividends paid to shareholders in 1848 had been at the rate of 200%. A committee of miners wrote to the directors pointing out that they could not survive on the reduced rate of pay; however, the directors were adamant that the lower rates would be instituted and by mid-October many miners were leaving for other parts. The general strike began on Survey Day, 11 November, the day on which tributers bargained for pitches, but these had been reduced by the directors from 70-80 to 21, effectively throwing some 300 miners out of work. When the miners refused to work at all the directors gave notice that they must vacate the company’s cottages. As there were many unemployed Cornish miners ready to take their place, the case of the Burra miners was virtually a lost cause and by mid-November some began to go back to work, and although a few held out until January 1849 essentially the company won the battle.

Ian Auhl, The Story of the ‘Monster’ Mine, Investigator Press, 1986, pp.96-100

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