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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Strikes And Lock-Outs-2

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A strike, in the labour sense, is a stoppage of work by common agreement on the part of a body of work-people for the purpose of obtaining or resisting a change in the conditions of employment. The body of workpeople may be large or small, and the cessation of work may be simultaneous or gradual; e.g. if the notices to cease work happen to expire at different dates, the cessation may nevertheless be a strike, provided it takes place as the result of a common agreement. It will be seen from the above definition that a strike, though the immediate result of an agreement, formal or tacit, on the part of work-people to withhold their labour, may originate in a demand on the part of the employer as well as on the part of the employes. In the former case the stoppage is often (though loosely) termed a " lock-out." It is obvious, however, that to distinguish stoppages as strikes or lock-outs according to the source of the original demand for a change of conditions would lead to a very arbitrary and misleading classification. Frequently it is not easy to say which side made the original demand to which the dispute is to be attributed, and frequently a stoppage is the result of a break-down of negotiations in the course of which demands have been made by both sides. Moreover, in so far as the distinction can be drawn, it would lead to the result that in almost all cases a dispute in times of improving trade would be termed a strike, and in times of declining trade a lock-out. It is not possible to frame an entirely satisfactory definition of a lock-out which shall enable it always to be discriminated from a strike. It may be noticed that the attempt to make this distinction has been abandoned in the board of trade statistics since 1894, both kinds of stoppages being now included under the comprehensive title of " trade disputes." The only basis of distinction between a " strike " and a " lockout," which is sufficiently definite for precise or statistical purposes, is the source from which the actual notice to cease work emanates, cessations resulting from notices given by the employers being termed " lock-outs," while those which either result from notices given by the men, or from their withdrawal from work without notice, would be termed " strikes." But whether the term " lock-out " be restricted as above, or applied, as in the popular use of the term, to any dispute in which the employers appear to be the aggressors, the distinction does not afford a sound basis for the statistical classification of disputes. The source of the actual notices to leave work is often quite an unimportant matter; while, on the other hand, if the ordinary current use of the terms be followed, there will be many disputes which, according to the workmen's view, should be termed lockouts, and, according to the employers, should be termed strikesa difficulty which was well illustrated in the controversy as to whether the " strike clauses " in admiralty contracts could be invoked in the case of work stopped through the engineering dispute of 1897. In the present article, therefore, no distinction is drawn for statistical purposes between a strike and a lock-out.

Another distinction, perhaps of greater importance than the above, but which in practice it is sometimes difficult to draw, is between a stoppage in pursuance of a trade dispute and a stoppage due to a bona-fide dismissal or change of employment arising from the intention of an employer to cease to employ a particular set of men, or of a group of workmen to cease to work for a particular employer. Generally speaking, a stoppage may rightly be termed a trade dispute if there be an intention on the part of both parties (at least at the beginning) to resume the relations of employer and employed on the satisfaction of certain specified conditions. Where the willingness to resume this relation exists on one side only the question is more difficult, and accordingly it is not uncommon for an employer to deny the existence of a trade dispute, although the men formerly in his employ may be actually drawing " strike pay " from their unions and " picketing " his works to prevent their places being filled. Such cases sometimes arise when the workmen consider that the dismissal of some of their colleagues is due not to personal faults or slackness of employment, but to some collective action which they have taken, or to their membership of some organization. Broadly speaking, however, the distinction is that a trade dispute is a temporary stoppage entered into to obtain or to resist a change of conditions of employment.

The essence of a strike or lock-out is a refusal on the part of a number of workmen collectively or of an employer to renew contracts of employment except on certain changed conditions. This simple situation may be complicated by actual breaches of contract, as when a body of work-people leave work without notice, or by attempts on their part to prevent other persons from entering into contracts of service, or to persuade other persons to terminate or break their contracts. But such features as these, though common to many strikes, are not essential. The question of the legal position of strikes, and of the methods adopted for the conduct of strikes, is discussed below. Here it is only necessary to point out that strikes, as such, are incidents arising out of the modern relationship of free contract as between employers and workmen, and have little real analogy with the revolts of servile or semi-servile labour in ancient or medieval times.

Year.

Number

of Dis-

putes.

Number of Work-people affected.

Aggregate

Duration in

Working Days.

Directly.

Indirectly.

Total.

18 93

61 5

594,149

40,152

6 34,3 01

30,467,765

18 94

9 2 9

257,314

67,934

3 2 5, 2 4 8

9,529,010

18 95

745

207,239

55,884

263,123

5,724,670

1896

926

147,950

50,240

198,190

3,746,368

1897

864

167,453

62,814

230,267

10,345,523

1898

711

200,769

53,138

2 53,9 0 7

15,289,478

18 99

7 1 9

138,058

42,159

180,217

2,516,416

1900

648

135,145

53,393

188 ,53 8

3,152,694

1901

642

111,437

68,109

179,546

4,142,287

1902

442

116,824

139,843

256,667

3,479,255

1903

3 8 7

93,515

23,386

116,901

2,338,668

1904

355

56,380

30,828

87,208

1,484,220

1905

35 8

67,653

25,850

93,5 0 3

2,470,189

1906

486

157,872

59,901

21 7,773

3,028,816

1907

60r

100,728

46,770

147,498

2,162,151

Trade Disputes in the United Kingdom. Since 1888 the board of trade have kept a record of strikes and lock-outs in the United Kingdom. The following table, based on the official returns published by that department, shows the number and importance of these stoppages in the United Kingdom from 1893 to 1907: It should be noted that by " indirectly affected " are meant the work-people employed in the same establishments as those on strike, who are thrown out of employment owing to the strike, but are not themselves engaged in it. The board of trade statistics do not take into account the persons employed in kindred trades who are indirectly affected.

An important thing to note about the above statistics is that in many years they are dominated by a few large disputes. Some of the larger cases are shown on the following page.

In 1907 487 of the recorded disputes (or about four-fifths of the whole number) accounted for less than one-third of the total time lost, and this, it is to be remembered, is after the very small disputes have been excluded.

By " aggregate duration " or " time lost " is meant the product of the number affected multiplied by the duration of the dispute in working days, with some allowance for those who have found work elsewhere or been replaced by others. Though this figure is the best general index of the importance of. the disputes of each year, it is but a rough approximation to the time actually lost through disputes.

Principal Disputes of the Year.

All other Disputes.

Year.

Number of

Aggregate

Number

Number of

Aggregate

Trade and Locality.

Work-people

Duration in

of

Work-people

Duration in

affected.

Working Days.

Disputes.

affected.

Working Days.

1893

Coal Miners (Federated Districts). .

? Coal Miners (South Wales and Monmouth)

300,000

90,000

21,137,000

1,500,000

613

244,301

7,830,765

1894

Coal Miners (Scotland). ... .

70,000

5,600,000

928

255,248

3,929,010

1895

Boot and Shoe Operatives

46,000

1,564,000

744

217,123

4,160,670

1897

Engineers, Machinemen and others.

5,731,000

863

182,767

4,614,523

1898

Engineers, Machinemen and others - continued 5

3 Coal Miners (South Wales and Monmouth) .

47,500

100,000

3 1,118 000 (

11,650,000

710

153,907

2,521,478

when there is most room for bona-fide disagreement as to the conditions of the labour market. These are undoubtedly the most critical times in the relations of employers and employed, but the disturbing influence of accidental causes is too great For example, if a strike causes a postponement or accumulation of work, the extra demand for labour, and the overtime worked after its conclusion, may partially compensate for the stoppage. On the other hand, if a dispute should drive away trade or cause the closing of works, it may lessen the field of employment for a long period after its termination, and such lost time cannot be taken into account in the estimates of "aggregate duration." For these reasons all estimates of wages lost through disputes are somewhat fallacious. The real importance of strikes lies less in the value of the actual time consumed by their duration, than in their indirect effects on the organization and effectiveness of the industry, and on the relations of employer to employed, and also in their reaction on the conditions of allied trades. The comparative insignificance of the actual loss to production owing to the mere loss of time caused by strikes will be seen from the fact that the total duration of strikes during the seven years 1901-1907, if spread over the entire adult male working population, would be equivalent to less than the loss of one-third of a day per head per annum. As a matter of fact, however, the loss owing to strikes is very unequally distributed over the industrial population. In large groups of industries, e.g. agriculture, strikes are of rare occurrence. In others, such as the building trades, they are frequent, but mostly small and local; while in mining they are not only frequent and often prolonged, but in many cases they involve large numbers of persons and extend over wide areas. Thus on an average of the seven years1901-1907there were 43 disputes annually in the building trades, and 133 in mining and quarrying, but the latter disputes have involved nearly seventeen times as many persons and had an aggregate duration nearly six times as great. Intermediate between these groups of trades is the metal, engineering and shipbuilding group, in which, more perhaps than in any other group, the importance of disputes varies according to the state of trade.

The principal facts relating to the distribution of trade disputes among the more important groups of trades are given in the above table for the mean of the seven years 1901-1907.

It would be natural to expect that trade disputes would be most prevalent at or just after a turn in the tide of employment, xxv. 33 to enable any regular law of variations in disputes to be established by statistical evidence. It is to be remembered that in recent years there has been a great development in the means available for avoiding stoppages by conciliatory action (see Arbitration And Conciliation), and this of itself would greatly complicate the task of tracing any correspondence between the prevalence of actual stoppages and the state of employment. Broadly it may be said that the great majority of upward and downward changes of wages are settled nowadays without strikes, and in many trades actual stoppages, instead of being a normal feature in the relations between employer and employed, are rather to be looked on as cases of accidental breakdown of the recognized machinery of negotiation.

The causes of disputes are of course very varied, embracing all the matters relating to conditions of may arise between employers Causes. and employed. Experience shows, however, that the great bulk of disputes relate to questions of wages, a much smaller proportion to hours of labour, and the balance to a large number of miscellaneous questions, such as the employment of persons or classes obnoxious to the strikers on the ground that they do not belong to their union, or have worked against its interests, or because they are held to have no " right " to the particular occupation on which they are employed, either on account of not having gone through the recognized training or of belonging to another trade.

Percentage Proportion of Work-people directly affected by

Disputes in the seven years, 1901-1907, relating to

Questions

of Wages.

Questions

of Hours.

Employment

of particular

Classes or

Persons.

Trade

Unionism.

Other

Causes.

54'5

3.6

9.2

18.2

14. 5

Mean Annual

Percentage of

Percentage of

Number of

Total Number

Aggregate

Group of Trades.

Number

Work-people

en

Duration

employed who

Working Time

of

affected

were affected

occupied by

Disputes.

(directly and

indirectly).

Working

Days.

by Disputes.

Disputes.

Building .

43

5,260

234,651

0.5

0.07

Mining and Quarrying .

133

87,509

1,348,289

8.7

0.45

Metal, Engineering and

Shipbuilding. .

95

22,470

534,549

1.6

0.13

Textile. ... .

90

27,736

326,468

2.3

0.09

Clothing

36

4,992

104,619

0.7

0.05

Other. ... .

72

9,047

180,793

0.2

0.01

All Industries, except

Agricultural Labour-

ers, Seamen and Do-

mestic Servants. .

469

157,014

2,729,369

1

6

0.09


Among this class of strikes are to be included the so-called " demarcation " disputes between two bodies of workmen as to the limits of their trades, which frequently cause suspension of work by both groups, to the great inconvenience of the employer. Strikes are also not uncommon on the question of trade unionism pure and simple - i.e. to obtain or defend freedom to belong to a union, or to act through its agency in negotiations with employers. This question enters more or less as a factor into a large number of disputes, most usually, however, as a secondary cause or object, so that it does not appear prominently in the tabulation of causes in the board of trade statistics, which is based on principal causes only. Thus the formulated demands of the strikers are usually for improved conditions of work, the question of " recognition " of the trade union only arising incidentally when the parties attempt to negotiate as to these demands. The following table, showing the principal causes of disputes for the seven years 1901-1907, is based on the official statistics: - employment on which differences The results of trade disputes are nearly as varied as their causes. Sometimes a strike goes on until the employer is Methods of ruined or retires from business, and is only ended settlement by the permanent closing of the works; sometimes, and especially when trade is slack and the dispute Results. not large, the places of the men are almost immediately filled, and the only economic result of the strike is to replace one body of men by another without perceptible interruption of business. There have been frequent cases of this kind in strikes of unskilled labourers. Sometimes, on the other hand, the demand for labour is so active that the whole of the strikers immediately find work elsewhere, and the only ecomonic result is to transfer a body of men from one set of employers to another with little or no interruption of their employment. In years of active employment the building trades have afforded many examples of this issue of a trade dispute. In other cases, after a more or less prolonged stoppage, the disputes end by the permanent " blocking " of an employer's establishment by a union, or the permanent refusal of the employer to take back any of his former employes. All these, however, are extreme, and on the whole exceptional cases. The vast majority of trade disputes are settled by mutual arrangement, and whether such arrangement is wholly in favour of one or other party, or involves a compromise, its terms provide that the whole or part of the body of work-people whose labour was withheld or excluded shall return on agreed conditions to their former employment.

During the period 1901 to 1907 there were on an average 465 disputes settled annually, affecting directly and indirectly 156,800 work-people, and of these only 44 disputes, involving 15,700 work-people, were ended by the return to work of the strikers on their employers' terms without negotiation of any kind, and 69 disputes involving 5 500 persons by replacement of the work-people or by the closing of works. All the remaining disputes, 352 in number, involving 135,600 persons, were concluded by negotiation between the parties either with, or more usually without, the aid of an outside mediator or arbitrator.

Year.

In favor of

Work-people.

In favor of

Employers.

Corn-

promised.

Indefinite.

Total.

1901

2 7.5

34'7

37'3

0.5

100

o

1902

31.8

31.8

36.I

o

3

100

0

1903

31.2

48.I

20.7

0.0

100.0

1904

27'3

41.7

30.9

0.1

100.0

1905

24'7

34'0

41.2

0

I

Ioo

o

1906

42'5

24.5

33.o

0.0

100.0

1907

32.6

2 7.0

40.1

0.3

100

o

Mean of

7 years

31. I

34'5

34.2

0.2

100.0

The following figures for1901-1907(which practically coincide with those of the previous decennial average) show the comparative results of trade disputes. The percentages refer to the proportion of work-people directly involved in disputes which resulted in the manner indicated: - It is, of course, to be understood that the figures in the above table only relate to the immediate results, as determined by the relative extent to which one or other of the parties succeed in enforcing their demands. The question of the ultimate effect of the stoppages on the welfare of the parties or of the community generally is an entirely different question.

Organization of Strikes and Lock-outs. In the great majority of cases strikes are organized and controlled by trade unions. It does not, however, follow from this that the growth of trade unionism has always Trade fostered and encouraged strikes, there being evidence Unions. that in many trades the strengthening of organization has had the effect, not only of restraining ill-considered partial stoppages, but also of preventing more serious dislocations of industry by providing a channel for the expression of grievances and a recognized means of negotiating with employers. Much of the evidence given before the Royal Commission on Labour (1891-1894) tended to show that the growth of trade unions has the effect on the whole of lessening the frequency, though of widening the area, of disputes. The commission, moreover, laid down that the stage of industry in which disputes are likely to be most frequent and bitter is that in which it is emerging from the " patriarchal " condition, in which each employer governs his establishment and deals with his own men with no outside interference, but has not fully entered into that other condition in which transactions take place between strong associations fully recognizing each other. In this state of industrial organization bitterness is often caused by the insistence of the work-people on the " recognition " of their unions, and by the treatment of these unions by the employers as outside parties interfering and causing estrangement between them and the work-people actually in their employ.

Probably next to the patriarchal stage, in which each factory is a happy family, the industrial conditions most favourable to peace are when a powerful trade union is face to face with a representative employers' association, both under the guidance of strong but moderate leaders and neither feeling it beneath its dignity to treat on equal terms with the other. When, on the other hand, some or all of these conditions are absent, the growth of combinations may tend to war rather than peace.

Whether, however, trade unionism tends generally to encourage or to restrain strikes, the organization and policy of all trade-unions, as at present constituted, are based on the possibility of a collective withdrawal from work in the last resort. Dispute pay is consequently the one universal form of trade-union benefit. Though, however, in most of the disputes recorded the strikers are financially supported by some trade union, this is by no means always the case. Many strikes have been entirely carried out without the instrumentality of a permanent combination, the work-people affected belonging to no union and merely improvising a more or less representative strike committee to control the movement. It is not uncommon, however, for a permanent union to originate in a strike of non-unionists. In other cases (e.g. in the London dock strike of 1889) an insignificant trade union may initiate a strike movement involving several thousands of labourers outside its membership. In the case quoted the membership of the Dockers' Union rose during the few weeks of strike from Boo to over 20,000. A conspicuous case of a widespread strike of workmen not belonging to a trade union was the South Wales coal-miners' dispute of 1898. Of the too,000 men affected, probably not more than 12,000 belonged at the time to any trade union, but the workmen's representatives on the committee of the sliding scale (against which the movement was directed) formed the nucleus of a strike committee, and one result of the strike was the formation of the " South Wales Miners' Federation," affiliated to the Miners' Federation. In the case of strikes of non-unionists, the strikers, of course, have to depend for their maintenance on their own resources or on the proceeds of public subscriptions. Frequently grants are made in their aid by sympathetic trade unions, and in the case of the South Wales dispute above referred to, several boards of guardians gave outdoor relief illegally to strikers who had exhausted their resources.

The majority of strikers, however, belong to trade unions and receive " dispute benefit," which usually consists of a weekly payment of from tos. to t 5s. In 1 9 06 the sum expended by too of the principal trade unions in support of men engaged in disputes was £212,000. In years of big disputes this sum has been largely exceeded.


Although most strikes are controlled by trade unions, cases are comparatively rare in this country in which the central committee of a trade union takes the initiative and directs its members to cease work. More usually a local strike movement is initiated by the local workmen, and the central committee is generally empowered by the rules to refuse its sanction to a. strike and to close it at its discretion, but has no authority to order it. In many unions a ballot is taken of the members of the districts affected before a strike is authorized, and a two-thirds (or even greater) majority, either of members or of branches, in favour of a stoppage may be required before the sanction of the central executive is granted. Some unions in their rules draw a distinction between strikes to enforce new conditions (e.g. a rise of wages, a restriction of hours or of overtime) and strikes to oppose the introduction of new conditions by the employers, greater freedom being allowed to the local members in the case of " defensive " than of " offensive " strikes.

Sometimes also the executive committee, while refusing their official sanction to a strike, and declining to allow the funds of the society to be used to support the strikers, may tacitly permit .a, local committee to take what action it pleases and to collect funds for the purpose. Some strong unions, however, especially those which have entered into general agreements with employers' associations, not only refuse financial support to an unauthorized strike, but even expel from their society strikers who refuse to obey their order to return to work. The Boilermakers' and Iron Shipbuilders' Union has more than once taken drastic action of this kind, even to the extent of fining or superseding recalcitrant members and officials. In 1899 the National Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives, which is a party to an agreement with the Employers' Federation (known as the Terms of Settlement ") was fined boo by the umpire under that agreement for failing to expel or to induce to return to work certain of their members who took part in a strike contrary to the provisions of the agreement. It sometimes happens, however, that the central committee of a trade union is not strong enough to withhold financial support even from an unauthorized strike.' When a strike has been authorized by the executive, the conduct of it is frequently entrusted to a " strike committee," appointed ad hoc, one reason being that a strike of any considerable dimensions often affects members of several unions, so that the common action necessary in a conflict with employers can only be attained by a committee representing all the societies involved. A strike committee has often no power to draw on the funds of the unions represented, each of which pays dispute pay in accordance with its rules to its own members, the financial power of the strike committee being limited to the support of non-unionists out of any funds available for the purpose, or the collection and administration of funds in case of the exhaustion of the resources of any of the unions represented.

The financial support of a local or sectional strike imposes but little strain on the resources of a large society, but where a considerable proportion of the members are affected it is usual for a union to replenish its funds by imposing a "levy" or special contribution on members remaining at work. During the engineering dispute of1897-1898the levies imposed by the Amalgamated Society of Engineers rose to 2S. 6d. per week, and one of the main objects of the federated employers was to diminish the revenue obtained from this source by enlarging the area of the dispute.

When there is no regular provision for the financial support of strikers, or when this provision is exhausted, the strike leaders have a much more difficult task in preventing the return to work of some of their followers; and it is in these cases that intimidation and violence are most to be a p prehended. In all strikes, however, except in the few cases in which the whole of the workmen in the trade are in the union, and the skill required is such that no new labour can enter the trade during the dispute, there is the possibility of the strikers being replaced by other labour, and the efforts of the strike organizers are largely directed to the prevention of this by all means in their power. The chief method employed has generally been that known as "picketing," viz. the placing of members of the union to watch the approaches to the works or factories affected, to give information as to the strike to any workmen who attempt to enter, and to endeavour to dissuade them from accepting employment.

Other methods of preventing workmen from taking the place of strikers may also be adopted or attempted, ranging from the ' Noteworthy in this respect was the strike of boilermakers on the Tyne in 1910, in defiance of their executive.

publication of information in leaflets or otherwise as to the existence of a dispute, or appeals to workmen to avoid the works affected, to systematic annoyance or intimidation of workmen who take or retain employment during a stoppage by threats or by actual violence and outrage.

The methods adopted by strikers and strike organizers naturally suggest the counter measures adopted by employers. To break down the resistance of a body of work-people supplied with a weekly strike allowance by a powerful trade union employers sometimes have recourse to some method of mutual indemnification by which the financially weaker of their number are temporarily subsidized by the stronger, whether through the machinery of a permanent employers' association or of an emergency committee. Employers' associations being usually composed of much smaller numbers than trade unions, are, as a rule, able to act in concert with greater secrecy and less formality than is possible in a workmen's union. Apart from any financial support which employers may guarantee their colleagues when attacked by a trade union, they have in some cases formed or aided organizations for the systematic provision of a reserve of " free labourers " available to replace men on strike. By " free labourers " is meant not necessarily nonunionist, but labourers pledged to work amicably with others whether members of a union or not. The Shipping Federation, an organization of shipowners and shipowners' associations which was formed in 1890 to combat the strikes than prevalent among seamen, arranged a system of shipping offices at which seamen could be engaged who were prepared to give a pledge that they would work with non-unionists. They also opened similar offices for shore labourers in some ports. Other independent agencies exist for supplying employers with labour during a dispute. It is not uncommon, in disputes in which there is any apprehension of intimidation or violence, for employers to board and lodge the imported work-people. Another method on which employers in recent years showed an increased tendency to rely was the institution of legal proceedings to restrain individual strikers or the union to which they belong from taking wrongful action injurious to their business. This led to the passage of the Trade Disputes Act of 1906 legalizing several forms of action by strikers which the courts had declared illegal (see below). There has been no attempt in England to induce the courts to restrain bodies of work-people from striking by injunction, as has been frequently done in American strikes affecting inter-state commerce. In many disputes the attitude of public opinion is of some importance in determining the results, and accordingly both sides frequently issue statements or manifestoes giving their versions of the difference, and in other ways (e.g. by an offer of arbitration) one party or the other endeavours to enlist public opinion on its side.

Public Action with regard to Strikes and Lock-outs. Though the majority of labour disputes have little importance for third parties, stoppages of this kind sometimes acquire a special interest for the general public either by reason of the large number of work-people whose livelihood is affected, or of their indirect effects on employment in kindred trades, or of the danger and inconvenience that may be caused to the public, or of the fear that industry may be diverted abroad, or that a breach of the peace may be caused by attempts on the part of the strikers to coerce persons outside their combinations. For these and other reasons, strikes and lock-outs are usually regarded as a class of disputes in which legislative interference has more justification than in the case of other kinds of industrial and commercial differences.


Legislative action, with the view of providing alternative methods of adjusting labour difficulties, is discussed in the article Arbitration And Conciliation. It is there shown that in New Zealand, New South Wales, Western Australia, the commonwealth of Australia and Canada (for certain industries) alternative methods have been made compulsory, but there are indications that the great majority of employers Free Labour. and workmen in Great Britain would not be prepared for such measures, involving as they would the surrender by those directly concerned of their freedom to arrange these matters by voluntary agreement or by a trial of strength. Without the provision of some alternative by the state, it would be impossible in a free country to prohibit altogether the termination of labour contracts by collective agreement among work-people or employers.

The law, however, may and does restrict or prohibit the use of some of the methods of promoting or carrying on strikes which interfere with the liberty of other labourers, or inflict a wrong on employers, or injuriously affect the public interest.

The relation of the law in the United Kingdom to strikes and lock-outs is briefly as follows. Since the legislation of 1871 and 1875 there has been no question of the legality of a strike as Law such, viz. of a combined abstention from work in order to influence the conditions of employment, but the method in which the strike is carried out may subject. the strikers either to criminal or civil liabilities. In this Strikes connexion the chief questions of interest relate to the limits within which strikers may lawfully act for the purpose of inducing other persons not to take their places, and for the purpose of bringing indirect pressure to bear upon the employer by influencing others not to work for or deal with him; and, on the other hand, the limits within which employers may act in inducing other employers to abstain from employing workmen or members of a trade union with whom they have a dispute.

Strikers are necessarily liable to the general criminal law, but the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act 1875 enacted that an agreement or combination by two or more persons to do, or procure to be done, any act in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute between employers and workmen shall not be indictable as a conspiracy if such act if committed by one person would not be punishable as a crime, namely, on indictment or on summary conviction with the statutory liability of imprisonment either absolutely or alternatively for some other punishment. The Trade Disputes Act 1906 extended the exemption to civil liability providing that an act done in pursuance of an agreement or combination in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute shall not be actionable unless the act if done without such agreement or combination would be actionable. This act also extended the definition of trade dispute so as to include disputes between workmen and workmen, and also to make it clear that the workmen referred to need not necessarily be in the employment of the employer with whom a trade dispute arises.

The act of 1875 does not affect any conspiracy punishable by statute nor the law relating to riot, unlawful assembly, breach of the peace or sedition, or any offence against the state or sovereign. The act also does not apply to seamen, or to apprentices to the sea service.

Sudden breach of contract of service in gas and water undertakings, or under circumstances likely to endanger human life or cause serious bodily injury, or expose valuable property to destruction or serious injury, are made punishable offences by special sections, but the miscellaneous provisions of the act are the most important in trade disputes. These provisions, as amended

by the act of 1906, subject to a penalty of fine or imprisonment every person who, with a view to compel any other person to abstain from doing, or to do any act which such other person has a legal right to do or abstain from doing, wrongfully and without legal authority, 1. Uses violence to or intimidates such other p erson, or his wife or children, or injures his property; or 2. Persistently follows such other person about from place to place; or 3. Hides any tools, clothes or other property owned or used by such other person, or deprives him of or hinders him in the use thereof; or 4. Watches or besets the house or other place where such person resides, or works, or carries on business, or happens to be, or the approach to such house or place; or 5. Follows such other person with two or more other persons in a disorderly manner in or through any street or road.

It has, however, expressly provided by § 2 of the act of 1906 that " it shall be lawful for one or more persons, acting on their own behalf or on behalf of a trade union or of an individual employer or firm in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute, to attend at or near a house or place where a person resides or works or carries on business or happens to be, if they so attend merely for the purpose of peacefully obtaining or communicating information, or of peacefully persuading any person to work or abstain from working." The above amendment of the law introduced by the act of 1906 was intended to nullify the effect of a series of recent decisions (of which Lyons v. Wilkins, 1896 and 1899, was the most important), which interpreted the act of 1875 to mean that all picketing was illegal except such as was merely for the purpose of obtaining or communicating information. Until recently it was supposed that for wrongs committed in strikes only the individual wrong-doers could be made responsible. But the decision of the House of Lords in the Taff Vale railway case (1901) showed that a trade union could be sued in tort for acts done by its agents within the scope of their authority and might be sued in its collective capacity, and execution of any damages recovered could be enforced against its general funds. The effect of this decision was nullified by § 4 (I) of the Trade Disputes Act of 1906, which expressly forbids any court to entertain any action against a trade union on behalf of all the members of the union in respect of any tortious act alleged to have been committed by or on behalf of the union.


Economic Effects. The question of the effectiveness or otherwise of strikes and lock-outs for the purpose of influencing the conditions of employment is part of the wider question of the economic effect of combinations, the strike or lock-out being only one of many methods adopted by combinations of workmen or employers to enforce their demands. (This matter is discussed in the article Trade Unions.) Apart, however, from the question of the extent of the immediate advantage, if any, which one party or the other is able to obtain from a stoppage, we have to consider generally the economic effects of strikes and lock-outs to the community as a whole. Stoppages of work are in their nature wasteful. Time, which might be employed in work yielding wages to the work-people and profits to the employers, is lost never to be recovered, while many forms of fixed capital deteriorate during idleness. In attempting, however, to estimate the utility or disadvantage of strikes and lock-outs, whether to the parties themselves or to the industrial community as a whole, it is insufficient to take into account the value of the wages and profits foregone during the stoppage, and to balance these against the gains made by one party or the other. Attempts have often been made to measure the loss or gain due to strikes in this way, but even as applied to particular stoppages, looked at purely from the point of view of one or other of the parties involved, the method is unsatisfactory. On the one hand, the time and work apparently lost may be afterwards partially recouped by overtime, or some of the strikers may be replaced by others, or may themselves find work elsewhere, so that the actual interruption of production may be less than would appear from the magnitude of the dispute. On the other hand, the total loss due to the stoppage may be augmented by the diversion of trade for a longer or shorter period after the resumption of work. Again, the ultimate effect of the forced concession of excessive demands may be damaging instead of advantageous to the nominal victors, by contracting the field of employment or by lowering the efficiency of the labour. If, however, the arithmetical computation of the value of the time lost compared with ,the value of the terms gained is an unsatisfactory test of the benefit or disadvantage of a particular strike to the parties concerned, it is wholly fallacious as a method of estimating the social utility or otherwise of strikes and lock-outs as instruments for effecting changes in the condition of employment. For any satisfactory consideration of this wider question we must look not merely to the actual strike, but to the whole process of free bargaining between employers and organized bodies of work-people, of which, as already shown, the strike may be regarded as merely an untoward incident. The actual cessation of work is a symptom that for the time there is a deadlock, and frequency of such cessations in any trade is a sign of the imperfection of means of negotiation. In many trades in which both employers and workmen are strongly organized various forms of machinery have been brought into existence for the purpose of minimizing the chance of stoppages (see Arbitration And Conciliation). But wherever there is free combined negotiation there is always in the background the possibility of combined stoppage. This being understood, the question of the utility of strikes as an industrial method resolves itself into the questions: (I) Whether the process of settling the terms of employment by agreements affecting considerable bodies of work-people and employers is superior to the method of individual settlements of labour contracts, or, at least, whether its advantages are sufficient to outweigh the cost of strikes and lock-outs; (2) whether free collective negotiation could be replaced with advantage by any other method of settling the conditions of employment of bodies of work-people, which would dispense with the necessity of testing the labour market by a suspension of work.

i. The first of these questions is virtually the question of the advantages and disadvantages to the community of combinations of workmen and employers, which is discussed at length in the article Trade Unions. As regards the question of the direct cost of strikes and lock-outs, it is proper to remember that individual bargaining does not do away with stoppages; in fact, the aggregate amount of time lost in the process of adjusting ten thousand separate labour contracts may be considerable - possibly not less than that consumed on an average in effecting a single agreement involving the whole body, even if the chance of a collective stoppage of work occurring during the process of combined bargaining be taken into account.

While, then, the strikes and lock-outs which accompany the system of combined bargaining are rightly to be described as wasteful, this is not so much because of the excessive amount of working time which they consume, as because of the disturbance and damage done to industry by the violent breach of continuity - a breach which may dislocate trade to an extent quite disproportionate to the actual loss of time involved, and the fear of which undoubtedly affects the minds of possible customers and hampers enterprise on the part of employers. The extent of the injury directly inflicted on the consuming public by a strike varies greatly in different cases, being at its maximum in the case of industries having the total or partial monopoly of supplying some commodity or service of prime necessity, e.g. gas-works, water-works, railway or tramway service; and least in the case of a local stoppage in some widely-spread manufacturing or constructive industry open to active competition from other districts.

In speaking above of the loss occasioned by strikes and lockouts attention has only been paid to the effects of the actual stoppage as such, and not to the particular methods adopted by the strikers to make the stoppage effective. The evils arising from the practice of intimidation or violence towards other workmen, or from the increase of class-hatred and bitterness engendered by the strike between employer and employed, are patent to all, though they cannot be estimated from an economic point of view.

2. As to the second question, viz. the possibility of maintaining combined negotiation, but of substituting some better method than strikes of resolving a deadlock, it is hardly necessary to say that so far as such substitution can be voluntarily carried out with the assent of both parties, whether by the establishment of wages boards or joint-committees, or by agreements to refer differences to third parties, the result is an economic as well as a moral advantage.

But the increasing adoption of these voluntary expedients for diminishing the chance of industrial friction lends no countenance to the expectation that a satisfactory universal substitute for strikes and lock-outs can be devised except at the price of economic liberty. Compulsory reference of disputes to a state tribunal cannot be reconciled with freedom of voluntary negotiations.

Unless, then, we are prepared for a scheme of compulsory regulation of industry by the state, strikes and lock-outs must be accepted as necessary evils, but their frequency may be greatly diminished with the improvement of means of information as to the true condition of the labour market, and the influences by which it is determined. Many disputes arising purely from mismanagement and misunderstanding are wholly avoidable. While there is no warrant for expecting the total abolition of strikes and lock-outs, it is not unreasonable to hope that the spread of education and the means of rapidly obtaining information, the improvement of class relations, and the adoption, where practicable, of conciliatory methods, may gradually tend to confine actual stoppages to the comparatively few cases in which there is a genuine and serious difference of principle between the parties.

Important British Strikes and Lock-outs. Some of the more important labour disputes which have occurred in various groups of trades in the United Kingdom are noted below. With regard to the statistics given, it may here be noted that although for the sake of brevity it is stated in some places that a certain number of men were idle for a specified number of days, it must not be supposed that in all cases the whole number affected were idle for the whole number of days.

Coal-Mining is an industry which has always been more convulsed by labour disputes than any other, probably owing to the violent oscillations of prices and wages, and to the varied and everchanging conditions under which work is carried on. Several of the earliest recorded disputes among coal-miners, however, referred to the term of engagement rather than the rate of wages. In 1765 the Northumberland miners struck for several weeks unsuccessfully against the system of a yearly bond of service, which was then prevalent. In 1810 a strike of seven weeks in the same district against a variation of the yearly bond ended in a compromise. Turbulent strikes in Northumberland and Durham are also recorded in 1831 and 1832; the former, in which the men were successful, for a general removal of grievances, and the latter, in which they were defeated, for the maintenance of the union. These strikes were attended with violence and destruction of property. In 1844 still another prolonged strike took place in the north of England to enforce alterations in the terms of the yearly bond. From 30,000 to 40,000 men were out for 18 weeks. New men, however, were obtained, and there were many evictions. In 1864 widespread strikes took place in South Yorkshire and South Staffordshire, the one for an advance and the other against a reduction of wages. The Yorkshire strike is said to have affected 37,000 men, and the Staffordshire strike 20,000. The latter lasted over four months.

The rapid fall in the price of coal after the abnormal inflation in1871-1872produced a series of obstinate strikes and lock-outs arising out of reductions of wages, in which the men were usually defeated. The South Wales miners, to the number of 70,000, were out for II weeks in 1873 and for 19 weeks in 1875, the latter dispute being a combined strike and lock-out, and leading to the formation of the first of the series of sliding scales under which the industry in South Wales was regulated until the end of the year 1902. In 1877 the West Lancashire miners (30,000) were out for 6 weeks, and the Northumberland men (14,000) for 8 weeks. The last-mentioned dispute was terminated by an arbitration award in the miner's favour. In 1879, 70,000 Durham men were out for 6 weeks, the dispute being terminated by an arbitration award giving half the reduction claimed by the coal-owners. The introduction of sliding scales in Durham and Northumberland in 1877 and 1879 did something to preserve peace in those districts, though the Durham scale did not prevent the dispute of 1879 mentioned above. Both scales, however, were terminated by the men in 1889 and 1887 respectively. In1880-1881the Lancashire coalmining industry was stopped for 7 weeks by a strike of 50,000 to 60,000 men against " contracting out " of the Employers' Liability Act of 1880.

The fall of prices after 1890 led to a renewal of disputes. In 1892 there was a prolonged stoppage in the Durham coalfield, 75,000 men being out for about 11 weeks.

In 1893 the greatest dispute took place that has ever been recorded in the coal-mining industry, affecting the whole area covered by the Miners' Federation, viz. Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire, and the Midlands. During the years 1891 and 1892 most of the districts covered by the Miners' Federation submitted to reductions of wages varying from 15% off the standard in Durham to 422% in South Wales and 50% in Scotland, where the previous rise had been greatest. The Miners' Federation, however, refused to recognize the principle that wages should follow prices, and put forward instead the theory that a minimum or " living wage " should be fixed and prices left to adjust themselves to this rate. They declined altogether to agree to any reduction, and so strong was their combination that the coal-owners deferred any definite action until the middle of 1893, when they considered that some reduction was absolutely necessary to enable the trade to be carried on. On the 30th of June they passed a resolution after a conference with the men, demanding a reduction of 25% off the " standard " (equivalent to about 18% off current rates of wages), and offered arbitration as an alternative; but the federation absolutely refused any reduction, and the contest began. Shortly before the beginning of the dispute Northumberland and Durham had become affiliated to the federation, but these districts were not threatened by a reduction, and they seceded from the federation sooner than strike, as demanded by that body to obtain the return of the reductions sustained since 1891. These districts consequently remained at work throughout the dispute, as well as Scotland and (except for a part of August and September) South Wales, reaping the advantage of the increased prices and wages resulting from the restriction of production due to the stoppage.


Within the federation districts proper there were some localities in which no notices of reduction were posted, but the policy of the Miners Federation was to make the stoppage as universal as possible, and all its members were required to leave work. The Cumberland miners, however, though members of the federation, were for special reasons permitted to continue at work. By the middle of August nearly 300,000 men were idle, or nearly half the total number of coal-miners in the United Kingdom. The early stages of the dispute were uneventful, but as the funds of the unions affiliated to the federation became exhausted, and the pinch of distress was felt, feeling ran high, and in some districts deplorable acts of violence were committed. At Featherstone, in Yorkshire, an attack was made on a colliery, in the course of which the military fired on the rioters, two of whom were killed.

The decision of the federation requiring all its members to leave work, whether under notice of reduction or not, had from the beginning met with considerable opposition in certain districts, and this opposition naturally grew stronger as the distress caused by the stoppage increased. At the end of August a ballot on the question showed a small majority still in favour of a universal stoppage, but the experience of another month led to a formal reversal of policy in this respect, a meeting of the federation at Chesterfield on the 29th of September deciding to allow all men to return to work who could do so at the old rates of pay, such men to pay a levy of is. a day in aid of those still on strike. Up to October no step was taken towards a settlement beyond an offer on the part of the miners on the 22nd of August to pledge themselves not to ask for an advance until prices reached the 1890 level, and also to assist the employers to prevent underselling - an offer which was rejected by the coal-owners. On the 9th of October a meeting of the representatives of the parties was held at Sheffield, at the invitation of the mayors of six important towns affected, but without definite result, beyond leading to an amended proposal on the part of the coal-owners for an immediate 15% reduction, and the regulation of future changes in wages by a conciliation board. The men, however, still refused all reduction, and during October a number of coal-owners, especially in the Midlands, threw open their pits at the old rate of wages.

A further advance towards a compromise was made by the owners on the 25th of October, when they offered that the proposed 15% reduction should be returned to the men in the event of the conciliation board (with an independent chairman) deciding in their favour. In consequence of this offer a meeting was held between the representatives of the owners and the men in London on the 3rd and 4th of November, but without arriving at a settlement. Matters had now reached a deadlock, and accordingly, on the 13th of November, the government addressed an invitation to both parties to be represented at a conference under the presidency (without a casting vote) of Lord Rosebery, who was then foreign secretary. The conference took place at the foreign office on the 17th of November, and resulted in a settlement, the men to resume work at once at the old rate of wages, to be continued until the 1st of February 1894, from which date wages were to be regulated by a conciliation board, consisting of fourteen representatives of the coalowners' and miners' federations respectively, with a chairman mutually elected, or in default nominated by the Speaker of the House of Commons, the chairman to have a casting vote.

This agreement terminated the dispute. The Speaker appointed Lord Shand as chairman of the board. In the middle of the following year, by mutual arrangement, the constitution of the c


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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Strikes And Lock-Outs-2'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/bri/s/strikes-and-lock-outs-2.html. 1910.

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