In June 1886, A.S.L.E.& F. introduced a Password and Oath for use as necessary in safeguarding against intrusion at branch meetings, but this was never generally observed.

In 1887 the Executive Committee decided to replace the branch password and replace it with a Society Emblem and invited designs for a Society Emblem, and "that the first engineman and fireman be shown on this emblem, subject to their approval"






Fellow Workemen

In issuing this Circular, we are pleased to inform you that our Society has made great progress since its formation six years ago. It was formed to give greater security to our labour, and to prevent our employers from taking advantage of our disorganised condition. We believe, and experience has proved, that we could have our grievances redressed if we were a thoroughly organised body, and thereby raise ourselves to that position which the responsibility of our duties entitles us to. Knowing the great and arduous duties Enginemen and Firemen are called upon to perform, we think we are worthy of greater consideration than we at present receive from the officials of various railways, We know men have striven for years to improve their position by appealing to Superintendents and Directors, and we know the results; but how different those results might have been had we been bound together in unity! A man, to espouse the cause of Enginemen and Firemen, under the present disorganised state, must do so at great sacrifice to himself, as we have known men who have represented you that have lost their situation for so doing, to the disgrace of the man that had the power, and used it to the injury of those who had the courage to represent you, and ask for those concessions which we are entitled to as honest, hardworking, responsible men. We would ask you if you consider your conditions of labour satisfactory. Anticipating your answer, we think you would say they are not; then, will you review with us the aspect of affairs as they are, also as they ought to be, and what means we ought to take remedy the grievance we labour under?

1st. - The rules of the Railway Companies say that we must devote the whole of our time to the Company’s interest, reside where they require us and so on. There are exceptional cases where the men are guaranteed six days’ wages per week; but with many  Companies it is not so, yet they claim the same terms of service, viz., 144 hours per week you must hold yourself in readiness for their disposal, and yet the Company reserve to themselves the right of not paying for any more time than they actually employ you, which in some cases only amounts to one or two days per week. Now we think that as the Company require you to devote the whole of your time to their interests, they ought certainly to guarantee you fully six days’ wages per week.

We think that every day should stand by itself, and consist of a reasonable number of hours (not more than 10 per day), and any time made beyond that to be paid for as overtime, at the rate of 8 hours per day. Sundays should be exclusive of the week, between midnight on Saturday and midnight on Sunday, and be paid for at overtime rate (8 hours per day).

We think that Enginemen and Firemen hold the most responsible situations in the Railway service, and we ought to be paid for our responsibilities; and we think that Enginemen and Firemen, in many instances are not paid so good wages as they ought to be.

The course of promotion of Fireman to Enginemen, in most Companies, is far from satisfactory; the only chance of promotion being in favour in which a man is held by the foreman, which in some cases is gained by giving in some form or other. We think each man ought to take his turn for promotion by seniority, his abilities being tested by a qualified man to see if he is competent, without fear of favour to any individual. 

Another serious question is the long and continuous hours of labour Enginemen and Firemen are oft-times compelled to remain on duty. A few years ago, the Amalgamated Society of Engineers took up the question of regulating their of labour, and contended that nine hours per hours per day were sufficient; after a long and bitterly contested struggle the men were victorious, and now there is scarcely any class of men called upon to work more than nine hours per day. Yet how is it with many Enginemen and Firemen? In many instances we are called upon to remain on duty 14, 16, 18, and in some cases 24 hours, and over that at times, and are expected to carry out the responsibilities of our employment as long the Companies require us to remain on duty, and this, in most cases, in weather when nature feels the necessity of rest and refreshment the most urgent.

We think there requires a more uniform system of signalling on Railways, especially in foggy and stormy weather.

The provision of more brake power under the Enginemen’s control, for he is the first to see danger, and therefore ought to have the means in his hands of bringing his train to rest as quickly as possible.

Fellow Workmen, to permanently improve our position we think there should be a strong Society of Locomotive Enginemen and Firemen.

Our Society has been established six years, and we have so far made satisfactory progress; but still there not the numbers in that we can say that the great majority of Enginemen and Firemen are banned together in one compact body.

We have gained during the present, eight new branches; and have now Branches at the following Stations; Sheffield, Pontypool, Neath, Liverpool, Leeds, Bradford, Carnforth, Gloucester, Llanelly, Sandhills, Swansea, Exeter, Nottingham, Bristol, Plymouth, York, Oxford, Cardiff, Paddington, Newport, Bow, Openshaw, Mexborough, Stockport, King’s Cross, London, Birmingham, Kentish Town.

We have put before you the objects we are striving for, and ask your co-operation in assisting us to obtain them.

There are benefits offered by the Society that are very necessary and beneficial to men in our position. We cordially invite members, and thereby entitled to these benefits, and also increase our strength by uniting with us to obtain our just rights and privileges from our employers.

In conclusion, we submit to you the following scale of wages which we think Enginemen and Firemen can justly claim, and we ask you to join us to try and obtain them.

1st. - A full week’s wages to be guaranteed to all Enginemen and Firemen, so long as they are fit and ready for work.
Full Wages for Enginemen, 7/6 per day; in London, 8/-
Full wages for Firemen,       4/6 per day; in London, 5/-

Time, 10 hours per day, after which 8 hours overtime.
Each day to stand by itself.
Sundays to be exclusive of week’s work, between midnight on Saturday and midnight on Sunday, and be paid for at overtime rate, viz., 8 hours per day.

Those men who do not wish to join for full benefits, may join for trade purposes only, at an entrance fee of 2/- at any age, with a contribution of 4d. per week, which entitles them to out of work allowance of 12/- per week, and 18/- per week while suspended, with legal assistance to any amount for any act not criminal in itself.

Fifteen men in any district desirous of opening a branch, may do so on application to the Secretary. Hoping this will meet with your approval, and thereby command your sympathy and support.

We are, Fellow Workmen,

Yours respectfully



17, Mill Hill, Chambers, Leeds

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