The Regular Dublin Operative Coopers' Society (also known as the Guild of St. Patrick) was incorporated in 1501 and received its Royal Charter from Charles II in 1666.
The Rules of the Society give some flavour of how a guild operated, how much control it exerted over the profession and how apprentices were inducted into the trade.
Regular Dublin Operative Coopers' Society
22 Nth. Frederick Street, Dublin 1
Revised Rules, 1976
1. - Formation of the Society
The Society shall be known as the Regular Dublin Operative Coopers' Society, and it shall consist of men of approved character, who are competent workmen. The objects of the Society shall be to regulate the relations between its members, being Coopers, and their Employers, and to provide benefits to members in accordance with these Rules. The place of meeting for the business of the Society and the office to which communications and notices may be addressed shall be at 22 North Frederick Street, Dublin 1.
2. - Officers
The officers of the Society shall consist of a President (who shall also act as Treasurer), a Secretary, three Trustees for the Current Account, being the President, the Secretary, and one other member, and four Trustees for the Reserve Fund, two Auditors and a Council of five members.
3. - Election and Removal of Officers
The President, the Secretary, the Auditors and the Trustees for the Current Account and the Reserve Fund shall be elected every three years and by ballot. The Council and a delegate to the Dublin Council of Trade Unions shall be elected every two years and by ballot.
The nominations shall take place at the first Quarterly General Meeting of the relevant year.
Candidates for office shall be selected from amongst the benefit members of the General Body attending such meeting, the ballot shall take place as soon as possible afterwards.
In the event of a vacancy occurring on Council, the Council shall be empowered to fill such vacancy by co-option, at their discretion.
Any officer or member of the Council may be removed from office by a resolution passed on a ballot of the members of the Society by a majority of the members voting at a General Meeting.
4. - Duties of Reserve Fund Trustees
The Trustees, for the time being, of the Society shall have charge of all stocks in the Reserve Fund, which must be purchased and lodged in their names as Trustees of the Society. They shall sign all documents necessary for the withdrawal, transfer or sale of any stock or Reserve Fund which is the property of the Society on receipt of a letter signed by the President and Secretary of the Society stating that a General Meeting of the members had taken place and that they were instructed by a majority of those voting to request them to carry out the wishes of the meeting. All Trustees of the Society's Funds shall give up trust when called upon to do so by a resolution of a majority of the members voting at a General Meeting. In the event of any Trustee or Trustees resigning, dying or being removed from office, another or others shall be elected as aforesaid within one month from the date of the occurrence of a vacancy.
5. - Duties of President
The President shall attend all Meetings of the Society at the appointed hour. He shall preside at all Meetings, except Special Meetings at which he shall not preside unless requested to do so. He shall receive and pay out all moneys whenever necessary, and enter all receipts and payments in the cash book, get receipts for all payments, bank surplus cash, and pay walking men their benefit in accordance with Rule 10 of these Rules not later than 9.00pm on Tuesdays.
6. - Duties of Secretary
The Secretary shall attend all Meetings of the Society, take account of all moneys paid in, enter subscriptions, furnish members with their accounts quarterly, carry on all correspondence in connection with the Society, keep a correct record of all business transacted, and draw out a balance sheet to be submitted for audit at the expiration of each quarter.
7. - Duties and Powers of Council
The Council shall meet whenever summoned by the Secretary. Such meetings shall take place at least four times per annum, and prior to each Quarterly General Meeting.
Five members shall form a quorum, inclusive of the President and Secretary, all business to be submitted to them.
The business and affairs of the Society shall be managed by the Council and shall be conducted under the control and supervision of such Council, who shall, in addition to any powers by these Rules, specifically conferred on them, have power, in particular to direct the General Policy of the Society (subject to the General Meetings thereof) in all matters affecting the object for which the Society is established. Subject as aforesaid, the Council shall in all things act for and in the name of the Society, and every member shall at all times conform in all respects to all instructions given to him by the Council in pursuance of these Rules, and all acts or orders done or given by the Council in the name and on behalf of the Society under any power by these rules given to them shall bind every member as fully as if they had been acts or orders of a majority of the benefit members of the Society at a General Meeting thereof.
8. - Auditors and Audit Meetings
The Auditors shall audit the books quarterly within a fortnight after the quarterly nights, and at any time it may be considered necessary to do so. They shall act with any other Auditors who may be appointed by a General Meeting for a special audit. They shall inspect the Collectors' books, check the Secretary's and President's books, see all receipts for moneys paid out, inspect the Bank Book and all documents connected with any funds which are the property of the Society, and affix their names as Auditors to the quarterly report of the income and expenditure.
They shall also send forward the names of any defaulters, and shall state their respective outstanding amounts to the Quarterly General Meetings.
9. - General Meetings
Four Quarterly General Meetings shall be held in each year, all business of the Society being referred to such meetings. The Chair shall be taken at 8.00 p.m. sharp.
10. Subscriptions and Checks Benefits
The weekly subscriptions of each member shall be £0.50p unless in the case of a member making a special arrangement with the Council, and should circumstances arise whereby the expenditure of the Society would be increased, an additional sum shall be levied, such sum being fixed by a General Meeting called by the Council.
Members who have to work abroad, when no work is available here, shall pay the full subscription and levy to this Society less any amount paid to any local Coopers' Society where he is employed. Proof of amount paid to any other Trade Union must be provided.
Members in receipt of full pay while off sick, inclusive of State Benefit are not entitled to checks.
Members who leave the City of Dublin except for the purpose of seeking employment at cooperage are not entitled to checks.
Any member who voluntarily follows another occupation while work as a cooper is to be had in the City of Dublin ceases to be a member of the Society, and is not entitled to checks.
Members entitled to checks must make a claim for such at least every four weeks, as claims for more will not be entertained at any one time.
The sum of £5.00 per week for a period not exceeding 15 weeks in any year shall be paid to any member who, being in benefit, becomes disemployed through slackness of work and who cannot obtain the earnings of 30% of the basic rate agreed by the Society. Any further grants shall be made only at the discretion of the General Body.
Any member waiting for employment while work is to be had in Dublin is not entitled to walking money or checks.
Any member being in benefit and seeking employment in any part of Great Britain or Ireland shall receive three weeks Walking money in advance provided there is no prospect of work in the City of Dublin.
Any member secreting earnings at his trade, in excess of 30% of the basic rate agreed by the Society, while drawing walking money will be deprived of walking money for one month.
Subject to any nominations made under the provisions of the Trade Union Amendment Act 1876, the representatives of a member who dies in benefit shall be entitled to receive the sum of £40 (forty pounds) for his interment, less all sums, if any, according to Rule 13, that may at the time be due by the deceased to the funds of the Society.
11. - Dispute Benefit
In the event of a trade dispute the amount of the benefit and its duration shall be fixed by a Committee to be appointed by the General Body.
12. - Members Leaving Employment
Before leaving an employment, working piece or day-work, all journeymen shall give one week's notice of their intention to do so, and all employers shall in like manner give similar notice to members of the Society before they are discharged.
Members receiving notice of disemployment must notify the Secretary on the following Tuesday night. All members shall receive at least one full week's work. Benefit members shall receive preferential treatment in the matter of the employing and discharging of men.
13. - Arrears
Members must be clear on the books to be entitled to walking money or dispute pay and not more than four weeks arrears with current subscription, exclusive of fines and levies, will be accepted to bring a member into benefit for walking money or dispute pay.
Subject as aforesaid, arrears will not be accepted during unemployment to bring a member into benefit for walking money.
Any member who is over 13 weeks in arrears, exclusive of fines and levies, shall not be entitled to mortality benefit.
Any member who is over 4 weeks in arrears, exclusive of fines or levies shall not be entitled to vote at any meeting of the Society.
Members over 26 weeks in arrears, exclusive of fines and levies, shall be excluded from the Society.
The Secretary shall notify in writing, any member who is 22 weeks in arrears, of his liability to exclusion from membership of the Society.
14. - Fines
Any member striking another shall be fined £5.00 (five pounds); any member using unbecoming language so as to cause disturbance at any of our meetings shall be fined £2.00 (two pounds); and when the Chairman calls order, if such call be not complied with, every person so offending shall, for each offence, be fined 50p.
Any member who is guilty of any fraudulent act in his employment, whether practised towards his employer or shopmates, shall be fined for the first offence not less than £4 (four pounds) and not more than £10 (ten pounds), and for the second offence he shall be expelled from membership of the Society.
Any member who fails to carry out directions of Council or General Meeting, issued to him in writing by the Secretary, shall be fined for the first offence not less than £4 (four pounds) and not more than £10 (ten pounds) and for the
second offence he shall be expelled from the Society.
Any member who is guilty of any disgraceful conduct in his employment which will reflect discredit on our Society shall be fined £2 (two pounds).
Any foreman or deputy foreman found picking good casks for either men or boys, and thus leaving the inferior class to their fellow workmen, shall, if the same be proved against him, be fined not less than £4 (four pounds) and not more
than £10 (ten pounds).
All members working in a shop where this Rule is violated and not reporting same to the Society shall be considered aiders and abettors of the party or parties in fault, and are liable to the full penalty provided by this Rule.
15. - Collectors
Each shop shall elect a Collector annually whose duty it shall be to collect all subscriptions, fines, levies etc. and hand them over at least one week prior to Quarterly Night to those appointed to receive them or when requested by the President to do so. The Collectors book shall be receipted for the amount received.
16. - Salaries, Commission, Etc.
The President shall be paid the sum of £211.12p per annum, payable quarterly.
The Secretary shall be paid the sum of £316.72p per annum, payable quarterly.
The Auditors, ordinary and special, shall be paid the sum of £1 each per quarterly account audited.
Collectors shall receive 5% (five per cent) on their collections of subscriptions only.
17. - Deputations
All members appointed on deputations to our employers, or otherwise on business in connection with the Society, shall report as soon as possible the particulars of their interview on conclusion of negotiations.
18. - New and Excluded Members
Personal application for membership will be received at any Council Meeting, and if the applicant be considered suitable, his name will be forwarded for approval of a General Meeting. Admission fee £50 (fifty pounds).
New members to prove themselves competent.
The names of all new members and their sponsors, with the date of their admission to the Society, shall be recorded in a register to be kept for the purpose, and all new members shall be supplied with Trade Card, Rule Book and Price List on payment of the entrance fee. Members are not entitled to any benefits of the Society until they have made 26 weekly payments on account of subscriptions.
19. - Apprentices and Terms of Apprenticeship
All apprentices to our trade must be sons or grandsons of benefit members. All boys seeking apprenticeship must produce proof of relationship. Where any such is the son of a non benefit member or defaulter, that boy shall not be entitled to be apprenticed, even though his grandfather was or had been a full benefit member.
All apprentices shall be registered by the Society before starting to work. Any apprentice serving his time in opposition to the Society shall not be acknowledged by it.
No master Cooper shall be allowed more than one apprentice.
No Foreman Cooper shall be allowed to have an apprentice, and no journeyman shall be allowed to have more than one apprentice at any one time.
All apprentices shall serve their apprenticeship with benefit members only. The master shall be responsible to the Society for the teaching of his apprentice.
The terms of apprenticeship shall be four years, with weekly pay as follows:-
First year (minimum) 1/5 of coopers take home pay.
Second year (minimum) 1/4 of coopers take home pay.
Third year (minimum) 1/3 of coopers take home pay.
Fourth year (minimum) 1/2 of coopers take home pay.
Working hours of apprentices shall be regulated by the standard time of shops where they are employed.
All young men at the expiration of their apprenticeship, shall pay the sum of £10 (ten pounds), and produce two sponsors, who shall guarantee as to their workmanship under a penalty of £10 (ten pounds).
No apprentice shall seek employment as a journeyman until he has complied with this Rule.
The first three years of apprenticeship shall be served in the Making Shop, where possible.
No non-member shall be allowed to have an apprentice.
20. Allotment of Work by Foreman
All casks for coopering must be allotted without discrimination amongst the men in the shop appointed by the foreman or deputy foreman to do that class of work.
21. - Investments
The Reserve Fund shall be invested in the Post Office Savings Bank or on deposit receipt in any other recognised public bank or in municipal or other trustee stock approved of by a General Meeting.
Trustees shall be appointed in the manner herein before provided, and any such stock shall vest in the Trustees for the time being of the Society.
22. Questions of Importance
Any questions of importance arising upon these Rules or with our employers must on demand of ten benefit members, be decided by ballot of the members of the Society.
A Special General Meeting shall be called on receipt by the Secretary of an application, in writing, signed by ten benefit members.
23. - Access to Records
The accounts and records of this Society shall be open to inspection by any benefit member of the Society. The books of the Society and the names of the members thereof shall be open at all reasonable times to inspection by every person having an interest in the funds of the Society. The register of members shall be open for inspection in accordance with section 12 of the Trade Union Act, 1941 and the relevant Statutory Regulations.
24. - Grants
All proposals relating to the making of grants, usually payable at Christmas, shall be submitted for approval at the Fourth Quarterly General Meeting in each year.
25. - Contribution Cards
Every member or non-member subscribing to this Society shall be supplied with a Contribution Card, which must be signed by the Collector on the occasion of every payment which is required to be entered thereon.
26. - New Rule or Rules
Whenever any new rule or rules is or are required, a General Meeting shall appoint a Committee of five benefit members who shall draw up such new rule or rules and submit the same to the General Body for approval.
The General Body shall recommend whatever remuneration they think proper for the Rules Committee. All members of the Society shall be supplied with a type-written copy of every alteration of Rules.
27. - Indemnity of Officers
All officers of the Society shall be and are hereby indemnified out of its funds and property from and against any loss, costs, charges, damages and expenses whatever which they may incur or are put to in or about the execution of their respective offices, services or trusts: and none of them shall be answerable for any act or default of any of the others, nor for any insufficiency or deficiency in the value or otherwise of any security whatever, unless the loss arising by any such means happens through their own wilful neglect or default: nor shall they be liable for any banker, broker or other person with whom the funds or property of the Society may be deposited for safe keeping, investment, or otherwise: The Treasurer and property of the Society shall be insured.
28. - Power and Operation of Rules
The foregoing Rules shall be binding on the members of the Society, and shall be considered in operation from the date of their registration: and no new Rule shall be made, nor shall any of the Rules herein contained or hereafter to be made, be amended, altered or rescinded unless with the consent of a majority of the members present at a General Meeting specially called for that purpose. Three months notice in writing, signed by at least ten members of the Society in full benefit, must be given to the Secretary of any proposal to amend, alter or rescind these Rules or to make a new Rule. No new Rule or alteration of Rule shall be valid until registered.
29. - Duties of Shop Stewards
All shop stewards shall be men capable of discriminating between bona fide and frivolous complaints and who are well conversant with all the Rules of the Society.
All complaints shall be reported to the shop steward, who shall be the only one empowered to "call the shop."
The shop steward shall have power to attend at Council Meetings when what, in his opinion is an irregularity occurs in his particular shop.
Any serious loss incurred by the shop stewards in the performance of their duties shall be met by the funds of the Society, and they shall be compensated at the discretion of the Council.
All shop stewards shall see that apprentices are properly treated.
In the event of any dispute arising between master and apprentice, the same shall be referred to the shop steward in the shop in which it arises.
In the event of a shop steward being unable to settle a dispute the matter in dispute shall be referred to Council.
30. - General Rules
No cooper shall be allowed to work at any class of work other than coopering while employed as a cooper, during working hours. No cooper who is fully employed shall be allowed to work in any shop other than the one in which he is normally employed while men are drawing walking benefit.
No cooper who is retired on pension by an employer shall be allowed to work at coopering while active members are unemployed.
Any member guilty of a breach of this Rule shall forfeit all benefits from the Society.
All public bank holidays shall be paid for by the employer. Coopers working on bank or public holidays shall receive double rate of pay, in addition to holiday pay.
No man shall be appointed to a grade or foremanship unless he is a benefit member of the Society.
One shop steward shall be elected annually for each shop, by the workers in each shop, respectively.
Any member found disregarding these Rules shall be liable to a fine of not less than £10 (ten pounds) and not more than £20 (twenty pounds) for each offence.
This Society shall not declare a strike unless by resolution of a Special General Meeting summoned for that purpose, and carried by a simple majority of the benefit members present at such meeting.
Every member shall receive, if possible, individual notice of such meeting.
Any member retired from work who is in receipt of a pension from his former employer and who wishes to resume work shall apply to the Society for permission to do so. Only if the amount of work justifies it, shall such permission be granted and if granted, shall be subject to the following conditions:-
(a) That such permission shall not entitle him to any right or claim on the Society's funds.
(b) That he shall resume payment of the weekly subscriptions for as long as he remains in employment.
(c) That he shall terminate his employment on one week's notice from the Society to do so.
Such applicants shall sign a leaflet containing these conditions before taking up work.
Members who are fully employed and leave their employment to take up work with another firm must pay subscriptions for each of twelve weeks subsequent to their change of employment before becoming entitled to Walking Benefit.
Non Society coopers seeking employment may be allowed to take a job provided there is no Society member unemployed and subject to the following conditions.
That they sign an agreement to contribute to the Society, weekly, an amount equal to the weekly subscription for members,
That if a member becomes disemployed they shall vacate their employment if called upon by the Society to do so.
31. - Dissolution
This Society shall not be dissolved unless at a Special General Meeting called for that purpose and with a majority of five sixths of the benefit membership voting by ballot.
Each member shall be notified of the Special General Meeting and of the object for which such meeting is called. Notice of Dissolution shall be given to the Registrar of Friendly Societies in the form and manner prescribed by the Statutory Regulation in that behalf.