Address to the Workmen in the Parishes of Burslem and Wolstanton - Document from the Enoch Wood Scrapbook

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Date:23rd of November 1831

Description:The Truck System

This was a system whereby the workers were forced to accept goods in lieu of payment.

They would be payed in tokens, which could only be spent at the company store or 'Tommy Shop.'

The workers, often housed by the work master, suffered widespread exploitation.

They were charged inflated prices for the goods they took, so the master profitted not only from their labour, but also from his sales to them.

The work master determined the prices of the goods. He could effectively make his labour costs cheaper by hiking the price of essential goods.

If the worker did not accept these conditions he would often be out of a job and a home.

Truck Act of 1831

The Act made this practice illegal in many trades. In 1887 the act was extended to cover most manual workers.

Enforcing the Act

Enforcing the act was problematic. If an employer chose to pay his workers in Truck it would take the evidence of an employee or employees to prosecute him.

People rightly feared dismissal. They also feared the very real possibility that No manufacturer in the area would employ them after such action.

Without government intervention or supervised regulation employers who wished to carry on paying in Truck had the upper hand.

The Anti-Truck Association

By raising funds via a subscription the Anti-Truck Association was attempting to provide a safety net for workers who were prepared to stand up to their employers on the issue of Truck.

The fund would be used to support workers who had been dismissed by an employer they were giving evidence against.

These funds would also cover the legal cost of prosecuting employers who broke the law.

The Association would also actively seek out employment for dismissed employees.

About this Document

This document was collected by local industrialist Enoch Wood and is now part of the collections at Stoke-on-Trent Museums.

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