Cases of Distress and Oppression, in the Staffordshire Potteries; By Labourers Wages being paid in Truck - Booklet from the Enoch Wood Scrapbook

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Description:The Truck System

This was 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, sometimes housed by the employer, or 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 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.

The Truck Act of 1831 made this practice illegal in many trades. In 1887 the act was extended to cover most manual workers.

The Truck System in The Potteries

This booklet contains twenty testaments describing various cases of payment in Truck in the Potteries in 1830.

A series of statements from pottery workers portrays a very unfair system and includes such details as;

  • the kind of goods they were given as payment

  • the condition of the goods

  • the price they were charged for the goods in Truck

  • the actual market price of the goods

  • the price they were charged in rent as Truck

  • the names of certain local companies forcing workers take Truck for their labour

  • Truck and the local economy

    The booklet includes reports from local businesses describing how they were forced to take goods instead of payment from people in the employ of Truck Masters.

    These include property owners, a shoe maker and a water rates collector.

    Each testament vividly illustrates the effects of the truck system cascading through the local economy.

    The case for change

    The booklet was published the year before the Truck Act of 1831 made payment in Truck illegal in most trades.

    Evidence like the accounts described in this publication helped to make the case for legislation against payment in Truck.

    About this document

    This document was printed by Brougham, Market Place, Burslem. It was collected by local industrialist Enoch Wood and is now part of the collections at Stoke-on-Trent Museums.

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