Forest of Dean Miners’ Association

The majority of Forest of Dean miners were members of the Forest of Dean Miners’ Association (FDMA) which was the trade union representing Forest of Dean miners and was affiliated to the Miners’ Federation of Great Britain (MFGB). Each district of the MFGB had a full-time miners’ agent whose responsibility was the day-to-day running of the association, recruitment and negotiations with the employers. In addition, each mining association possessed its own district rules, scales of contributions and benefits, forms of administration and local customs and traditions. The structure of the MFGB meant that individual districts had a degree of autonomy.

The aims of the MFGB were to campaign nationally to reduce the hours of work, increase wages, improve working conditions and safety in the mines, negotiate compensation for injuries and death and elect MPs to represent the union in Parliament. After World War One, the principal aims of the MFGB were to secure the nationalisation of the coal industry and a permanent national agreement with a guaranteed minimum wage.

The FDMA was made up of lodges or branches organised around individual pits or villages. In addition, pit committees were elected at each of the pit lodges to deal with day-to-day disputes and relations with the management. Each lodge sent a delegate to the FDMA Council to whom the agent was accountable and met on average about four times a year. Every year a ballot of the whole FDMA membership was held for the FDMA Executive Committee including a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Political Committee, Finance Committee and Auditors. An election could also be held if there was a challenger for the post of agent and the Council agreed. The FDMA held regular meetings attended by the Executive Committee and delegates from the main collieries.

The MFGB held regular national delegate conferences with about 200 delegates and a larger national conference once a year. If votes were taken at a conference the card system would be used and the number of votes per delegate was dependent on the number of members they represented. The agent would usually represent the FDMA at MFGB delegate conferences with a mandate from the membership. The delegate conference could decide that a national ballot of all its members be taken on issues of importance.

The first agent for the FDMA, Timothy Mountjoy (1871 – 1878) was a Forester. However, Edward Rymer (1882 -1886) was from Durham, George Rowlinson (1886 – 1918) was from Staffordshire and Herbert Booth (1918 – 1922) was from Nottinghamshire and John Williams (1922-1953) was from South Wales.

The following is a list of some of the main activists within the FDMA.

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