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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Strikes And Lock-Outs

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"STRIKES AND LOCK-OUTS 25.1024). - In the following account of later developments between 1907 and 1921, strikes in the United Kingdom are first dealt with, sections following for other countries.

(A) United Kingdom I. Statistics. - Table I shows the total number of strikes or lock-outs recorded in each year from 1907 to 1920, inclusive; the number of workpeople involved therein, and the aggregate loss of working days due to these disputes.

No. of

Disputes

No. of Work-

people Directly

and Indirectly

Involved

Aggregate

Duration of

Disputes in

Working Days

1907. .

601

147,000

2,162,000

1908. .

399

296,000

10,834,000

1909. .

436

301,000

2,774,000

1910. .

531

515,000

9,895,000

1911. .

903

962,000

10,320,000

1912. .

857

1,463,000

40,915,000

1913

1,497

689,000

11,631,000

1914

999

449,000

10,111,000

1915

707

453,000

3,040,000

1916. .

578

281,000

2,581,000

1917. .

803

885,000

5,809,000

1918. .

1,300

1,142,000

6,332,000

1919. .

1,413

2,515,000

34,903,000

1920. .

1,715

1,932,000

27,01 1,000

Table 1. It will be seen that the figures show a general advancing tendency, partially checked during the World War. The total for the year 1920 shows the highest figure ever recorded for number of disputes, the highest figure (with one exception) for the number of workpeople involved, and the highest figure (with three exceptions) for the aggregate duration of disputes. The exceptions in this latter case are 1893, with 30, 4 68,000 working days; 1912, with 40,915,000 working days; and 1919, with 34,9 0 3, 000 working days. In 1893, 1912 and 1920 the high figures were principally due to great coal strikes; the year 1919 was a year of great industrial unrest.

Average of

Years 1907-10

Average of

Years 1917-20

No. of Disputes .

492

1,308

No. of Workpeople In-

volved .

315,000

1,633,500

Aggregate Duration (in

Working Days) .

6,416,000

18,511,000

As showing the general advancing tendency of the figures, it may be instructive to compare the average of the four years 1907-10 with the average of the four years 1917-20: - It should be stated that the increase in the number of disputes may be partly accounted for by improved facilities for obtaining information with regard to minor disputes, which may have previously escaped notice; but this will not account for more than an insignificant part of the increase in the figures for number of workpeople involved and for aggregate duration, since the greater disputes, involving large numbers of workpeople, have always been well reported in the newspapers. Table 2' (p. 583) shows the distribution of strikes between the principal groups of trades, taking the averages for the io years 1911-20.

Table 2 shows that the average number of workpeople involved in each dispute was a little over 1,000, and that the average duration of disputes was about 14 days. The figures, however, vary widely as between one trade and another. Thus, the average number of workpeople varies from a little more than 200, in the building trades, to over 3,000 in the mining and quarrying group; while the average duration varies from 8 days, in the transport trades, to 27 days in the building trades.

The figure for average numbers involved, and still more that for the average duration, give an exaggerated idea of what may be called the " normal " magnitude and duration of a strike. It is the great strikes, involving many thousands of workpeople, that are commonly also the hardest fought and the most prolonged. Great and unless both employers and workpeople are organized in strong combinations, with great financial resources. All these factors tend it is exceptional for a strike or lock-out of this magnitude to occur for some object which they regard as of first-class importance; and unless all means of reaching a pacific settlement have been exhausted, masses of workers are not mobilized for industrial conflict except to prolong precisely those strikes - in reality a small minority - which involve large numbers of workpeople, and thus exaggerate enormously the figure for " aggregate duration." For example, nearly 40% of the aggregate duration of disputes in the building trades was due to the great dispute in the London building trade in 1914, which lasted for more than six months and accounted for about 2,500,000 working days. In the mining and quarrying industry, two-thirds of the total aggregate duration of all the disputes was due to the two great coal strikes of 1912 and of 1920; if these were eliminated, the average number involved in disputes in this group of trades would be reduced from over 3,000 to 1,800, and the average duration from 14 to 8 days. The case is much the same with the other great groups of trades; and, speaking broadly, it may be said that the vast majority of recorded disputes involve comparatively small numbers of workpeople, and last less than a fortnight - often indeed, only a few days.

To put the same thing in another way. The number of disputes which had an aggregate duration of 25,000 days and upwards varied, in the period 1904-13, from t i (in 1904) to 72 (in 1913), with an average of 32, or 5% of the total number of disputes. Yet this 5%o of disputes accounted for 65% of the number of workpeople involved, and for no less than 86% of the aggregate duration.

Or again, the number of disputes in which 2,500 workpeople or upwards were involved varied, in the years 1904-13, from a minimum of 4 (in 1905 and in 1907) to a maximum of 43 (in 1913), with an average of 18, or less than 3% of the total number of disputes; but this 3% of disputes accounted for 67% of the total number of workpeople involved, and for 74% of the aggregate duration.

Some trades are far more subject to industrial disturbance than others; in the building trades the proportion of men who strike or are locked out rarely reaches t % of the total number employed in the industry, and in the clothing trades the proportion is not much higher; whereas in the coal-mining industry the proportion who strike or are locked out rarely falls below 5 Q and frequently rises above 20% in a year.

Building trades .

0.7

Coal mining .

21.4

Other mining and quarrying. .

2.2

Metal engineering and shipbuilding

3.3

Textile trades. .

6.4

Clothing trades

Other trades .

I

7

" The mean percentages of workpeople involved in disputes for the years 1904-13 were as follows: All Trades. 4.4 The statistics of causes show, on the whole, remarkable regularity. Such fluctuations, as there are, are due principally to the prevalence or otherwise of wage disputes. In years of good or improving trade, strikes for advances in wages are numerous; in years of bad and declining trade such strikes become much fewer.

Group of Trades

No. of

Disputes

No. of

Workpeople

involved

(Thousands)

Aggregate

Duration in

Working

Days

(Thousands

of Working

Days)

Building.. .

119

25

652

Mining and Quarrying

164

508

7,067

Metal Engineering and

Shipbuilding. .

265

180

2,765

Textile.. .

107

138

2,143

Clothing.. .

58

19

258

Transport .

88

150

1,230

Miscellaneous (inclu-

ding Employees o f

Public Authori -

ties). .. .

260

68

968

Average for all aI ove

Traded.. 1.

1,065

1,088

55,083

The statistics of results show somewhat less regularity. The principal features of this part of the table are the diminishing proportion of disputes settled in favour of the employers, and the Table 2. 1 Exclusive of the general strike at Dublin in 1913-4, which cannot be classified under any of the separate trade headings. This strike involved about 20,000 workpeople, and had an aggregate duration of about 1,900,000 working days.

increasing proportion settled by a compromise. In the first half of the period the proportion of disputes settled in favour of the workpeople was 24% on the average; settled in favour of the employers, 44%; and compromised, or partially successful, 32%. In the second half of the period the corresponding percentages were 26, 28, and 46. It should be noted that the second period includes three or four years of exceptional prosperity, a condition which tends to promote settlements in favour of the workpeople; and that this was followed by the period of the war, when prices were constantly rising and industrial conditions were altogether abnormal.

Proportion of Disputes

arising on questions of

Proportion of Dis-

putes settled

V

Q

U

a

"d

c

o

a ,

o

n cd

?.. a

?

0

V

W

r .

a

'

u)

e

Ot

t

o

.--,

,.

"O

z

a

o

o

E

c

Per

Per

Per

Per

Per

Per

Per

Per

Per

Per

cent.

cent.

cent.

cent.

cent.

cent.

cent.

cent.

cent.

cent.

1900

68

I

14

17

too

3 1

34

34

I

too

1901

63

4

13

20

100

26

44

30

..

100

1902

60

5

13

22

100

24

47

28

1

too

1903

60

4

14 ...

22

100

23

48

29

..

100

1904

65

4

13

18

too

17

51

32

..

too

1905

66

4

13

17

too

20

47

33

..

too

1906

68

3

11

18

100

3 2

37

31

..

too

1907

64

3

14

19

too

32

41

27

..

too

1908

62

3

14

21

100

20

44

36

..

too

1909

59

6

14

21

Ioo

18

46

36

..

too

19to

57

4

15

24

100

25

37

38

..

too

1911

64

3

16

17

100

25

32

43

..

100

1912

63

3

17

17

too

27

31

42

..

100

1913

66

3

16

15

too

29

25

46

..

too

1914

63

3

18

16

too

25

33

42

..

too

1915

73

2

12

13

100

23

37

40

..

too

1916

76

3

12

9

too

22

27

51

..

100

1917

73

I

15

II

too

31

20

48

I

100

1918

68

2

17

13

Ioo

29

21

48

2

Ioo

1919

64

II

15

10

100

24

22

54

..

too

1920

69

3

15

13

too

24

29

47

..

too

Aver-

ages

65

4

14

17

too

25

36

39

..

too

Table 3 classifies the disputes of the years 1900 to 1920, (a) according to their causes, and (b ) according to their results: - Table 3 II. Principal Disputes. - The year 1908 (in contrast to 5907, which was entirely free from any disputes on a great scale) saw three great disputes: (5) a shipbuilding dispute involving 35, 000 workpeople, and with an aggregate duration of 1,719,- 000 working days; (2) an engineering dispute on the N.E. coast, involving 11,000 workpeople, and with an aggregate duration of 1,706,000 working days; and (3) a dispute in the cotton trade, involving 120,000 workpeople, and with an aggregate duration of 4,830,000 working days.

In each of these three disputes the workpeople struck against (or were locked out to enforce) a proposal to reduce wages. This was at one time a common and important cause of disputes; the great coal strike of 1893, for example, was against a reduction in wages. During 1910-20 there were few or no disputes of any importance on this ground; in fact, these three disputes in 1908 were the last important disputes arising out of an attempt to reduce wages, until the ship-joiners' dispute, which, beginning in Dec. 1920, was the precursor of a series of strikes or lockouts culminating in the coal strike of 1921.

In each of the three disputes referred to above, one or more of the trade unions concerned was prepared, before the strike or lock-out occurred, to accept the terms offered by the employers; but in each case one or more other trade unions resisted the reduction. Modified terms offered by the employers were accepted in all three cases.

There were no important disputes in 1909; but in 1910 several prolonged disputes, involving large numbers took place.

Trouble arose in Northumberland and Durham in Jan. 1910, with regard to the working of the coal mines under the Eight Hours Act (the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1908), which came into operation, in those two counties, on Jan. I 1910. Agreements had been reached between the two coal owners' associations and the respective miners' union in Dec. 1909, as to the working of the mines under the new arrangements; but a large number of men at the various mines repudiated the agreements, and refused to go down the pits. About 85,000 workpeople were involved in Durham, and about 3 0,000 in Northumberland. At most of the pits the strike was over by the end of Jan.; but a minority of men stood out, and the strike was not finally settled until April. The aggregate duration of the dispute was about 1,280,000 working days in Durham and about 1,080,000 working days in Northumberland.

Certain members of the United Society of Boilermakers and Iron and Steel Shipbuilders stopped work in Aug. 1910, in breach of an agreement with the Shipbuilding Employers at two shipyards, one on the Tyne and the other on the Clyde; and the Employers' Federation locked out the members of the Boilermakers' Society at all the federated shipyards on Sept. 3. About 25,000 workpeople were directly or indirectly affected.

A provisional agreement made between representatives of the parties on Oct. 11 1910, was twice rejected by the workpeople on a ballot vote, and it was not until Dec. that a final agreement supplementing that of March 1909 was reached, and accepted by the workers. Work was resumed on Dec. 15. The aggregate loss of time in this dispute was about 2,850,000 working days.

A strike of coal miners and surface workers in the Rhondda Valley began on Sept. I 1910 and continued for nearly a year, being settled in Aug. 1911. It arose out of a dispute at one pit concerning the, price list for a particular seam, and was followed by sympathetic strikes at other pits belonging to the same employers. An agreement was finally reached on the price list, and on a guarantee of an average wage. About 12,800 men and boys were involved at the beginning of the strike.

The years 1911-2-3 were years of violent, and almost continuous industrial unrest. Among the most important disputes of these years were those described below.

A series of seamen's and transport workers' strikes began in June 1911. The original occasion of the first dispute was a demand put forward by the National Sailors' and Firemen's Union for the formation of a conciliation board, consisting of representatives of the Union and of the Shipping Federation, to consider a programme of reforms desired by the Union. The Federation refused to discuss the demands, and the seamen and firemen came out on strike at various dates in June 1911, many of the principal ports being affected. (London was not affected till a little later.) Strikes of dock labourers, carters, tramwaymen, and other transport workers occurred at some of these ports, partly in sympathy with the seamen, and partly in support of demands of their own for improved working conditions. Serious disorder occurred at Hull, Manchester and Salford.

Settlements were reached at various dates in July and Aug. affecting seamen and dockers at Hull and Goole; seamen and carters at Manchester; dock labourers and tramwaymen at Liverpool; and seamen and transport and other workers at Cardiff. There were also a large number of sectional settlements in the London dock, shipping, and transport trades.

The railway dispute of 1911 began with a strike of 1,000 railwaymen (goods porters, etc.) at Liverpool on Aug. 5, the men alleging their inability to get their grievances dealt with by the conciliation boards set up under the scheme of 1907. They were joined by railwaymen at Manchester and at many other centres. On Aug. 15 the executives of four of the railwaymen's trade unions sent to the various railway companies a resolution, stating that they were being pressed by their members to declare a strike, and giving the companies 24 hours to decide whether they would immediately meet representatives of the workers to discuss their grievances. The Government got into touch with representatives of the companies and of the trade unions on Aug. 16; and on the following day the Prime Minister announced that the Government was prepared to appoint immediately a Royal Commission, to investigate the working of the Railway Conciliation Agreement, and to report what amendments, if any, were desirable in the scheme. This announcement did not prevent a strike; but a provisional settlement was reached on Aug. 19, and work was generally resumed on Aug. 21 (except on one railway, where it was resumed on Aug. 23). The Royal Commission began its sittings on Aug. 23, and reported on Oct. 18. The trade unions, however, refused to accept the Commission's recommendations without various modifications; the railway companies, on their side, took the line that both sides were bound by the findings of the Commission. On Nov. 22 the House of Commons debated the question, and passed a resolution to the effect that the parties should be invited to meet with the view of discussing the best mode of giving effect to the report of the Royal Commission. The Board of Trade signified to the parties their readiness to call a fresh conference " on the understanding that the findings of the Royal Commission were accepted in principle and in substance." The parties accepted these conditions, and a conference was held, at which an agreement was reached, the recommendations of the Royal Commission being accepted with certain alterations and additions. The effect of the new agreement was to expedite the settlement by the conciliation boards of matters in dispute, to secure greater uniformity in the decisions of the conciliation boards, and to give such decisions greater finality than they had previously possessed.

The Cotton Weavers' Association of N. and N.E. Lancashire engaged in an active campaign in this year (1911) against the employment of non-unionists. The employers replied by a general lock-out, which began on Dec. 28, about 160,000 workpeople being involved. This is exclusive of the workpeople in the spinning section of the trade, who were put on short time, or thrown out of work, owing to the stoppage of the principal outlet for their production. The chief industrial commissioner (Sir George Askwith) invited the parties to a conference, which was duly held; and an agreement was reached on Jan. 19 1912. Work was to be resumed on Jan. 22, under the old conditions of employment, on the understanding that no action should be taken for six months in the way of tendering notices or striking mills on the non-unionist question. It was also agreed that, at the end of that period, Sir George Askwith would, if requested, submit proposals for the settlement of the question.

The great coal strike of 1912 involved an aggregate loss of working time of over 3 0,000,000 working days in the coal mines alone. There was also, of course, much consequential unemployment and under-employment in other industries. The percentage unemployed among members of trade unions rose to 11.3% at the end of March 1912; while blast furnaces, steel sheet works, and the glass bottle industry, were brought almost to a standstill, and tinplate mills working were reduced to about 14% of the normal number.

The strike arose out of a demand by the Miners' Federation for the payment of a minimum wage for every man and boy working underground in the mines. A conference between representatives of the coal-owners and of the miners had discussed the question of the earnings of miners in " abnormal " places (i.e. in working places where, owing to the thinness of the seams, or other causes beyond their control, the hewers were unable to earn the recognized minimum or average rate for the district), and a considerable measure of agreement had been reached; but at the annual conference of the Miners' Federation at Southport on Oct. 6 1911, it was decided " to take immediate steps to secure an individual district minimum wage for all men and boys working in mines in the area of the Federation, without any reference to the working places being abnormal." A ballot of the members of the Federation was taken on the question of handing in notices to establish the principle of an individual minimum wage, as expressed in the resolution quoted above. There was a large majority (445,801 to 115,721) in favour of giving notice; and notices were accordingly handed in, to terminate at the end of Feb.

At a subsequent meeting the Miners' Federation fixed the minimum rates they were prepared to accept in each district for piece workers " at the face " (i.e. hewers, etc.); and also added the following general instructions to their representatives, for their guidance in any negotiations that might ensue with the mine owners: - " No underground adult worker should receive a rate of wages less than 5s. per shift." (This did not apply to the Forest of Dean, or to Bristol and Somerset.) " Individual minimum wages for all piece workers other than colliers to be arranged by the districts themselves, and to be as near as possible present wages." Day rates for underground workers, and boys' wages, were also to be left to local arrangement; the boys' wages not to be less than the then existing wages, and not in any case less than 2s. a day.

Unsuccessful negotiations took place between the coal owners and the men; and on Feb. 20 Mr. Asquith, who was at that time Prime Minister, intervened, and invited both parties to meet him and other members of the Government, separately, in conference on Feb. 22. From that date onward till March 15 the Prime Minister kept in constant touch with the parties, who finally met, in joint session, with representatives of the Government, on March 1 2, 13 and 14. On March 15, the Prime Minister announced that the Government had decided to ask from Parliament " a legislative declaration that a reasonable minimum wage, accompanied by adequate safeguards for the protection of the employer, should be a statutory term of the contract of employment of people who are engaged underground in coal mining." In accordance with this announcement the Prime Minister introduced a bill in the House of Commons on March 19 1912, which received the Royal Assent on March 29, as the " Coal Mines (Minimum Wage) Act, 1912." The Act provided for the setting up of a joint district board in each of 22 districts specified in a schedule to the Act, to determine the minimum rates of wages for workmen employed underground in coal mines. On March 27 the coal owners met and adopted a resolution in favour of working the Act; and on the same day the men's Federation decided to take a ballot of the members on the question of resuming work, pending the settlement of minimum rates by the district boards. The ballot showed a majority (244,011 to 201,013) against resumption; but, at a national conference held on April 6, it was decided to terminate the strike.

A great strike of dock and other transport workers in the Port of London and on the Medway began on May 21 1912, and lasted over two months. The immediate occasion of the dispute was the refusal of a workman who belonged to the Amalgamated Society of Foremen Lightermen to join the Amalgamated Society of Watermen, Lightermen, and Bargemen; the latter society is affiliated to the National Transport Workers' Federation, but the former is not. The employers refused to interfere, and between 5,000 and 6,000 lightermen left work on May 21, followed later by a number of dock workers, who ceased work in sympathy.

The underlying cause of the dispute, however, was dissatisfaction with the carrying out of the various agreements that had been arrived at in settlement of the disputes in the previous year (see above). The Government ordered an enquiry to be held by Sir Edward Clarke, K.C.; and the alleged grievances of the workmen were found to come under seven heads, including: Employment of non-union men, in alleged breach of an agreement, by two of the employers' associations.

Refusal of an employers association to meet the trade union to discuss rates of wages and conditions of labour.

Refusal of certain employers to pay rates of wages fixed by various awards or agreements. Alleged interference with union workmen.

The board of trade invited representatives of the employers and of the workers to a conference, to discuss Sir E. Clarke's report. The men accepted, but the employers declined to be present, and stated that they could not accept Sir E. Clarke's report as an award on the points dealt with by him. They were unable to adopt certain suggestions made by the Board of Trade for the formation of a federation of employers; and refused, " under any circumstances, to any recognition of the Union of Transport Workers' Federation ticket, or any discussion for such recognition." Following upon debates in the House of Commons, and upon further conferences with the parties, the Government put forward various proposals on June 7; these were accepted (in substance) by the men, but refused by the employers. The Transport Workers' Federation thereupon declared a national strike of transport workers. Certain of the unions affiliated to the Federation took a ballot of their members as to the advisability of ceasing work, the result being in each case a majority against a strike; and only about 20,000 men, at Manchester and some of the minor ports, came out on strike. These all returned unconditionally after a few days' stoppage.

The places of the men on strike in London had by this time begun to be filled up by non-unionists; and the employers took a very determined attitude, refusing to agree to any conditions precedent to the men returning to work. Further negotiations were fruitless, and on July 27 the men's strike committee recommended an immediate resumption of work. By July 31 the return to work was fairly general; and by Monday, Aug. 6, practically all the men who could find work were reinstated. About 100,000 workpeople were involved in the dispute, and the aggregate duration was about 2,700,000 working days.

A strike of tube and other metal workers in Birmingham, Wolr verhampton, Wednesbury, and other towns in the " Black Country," began on April 25 1913, and continued until the middle of July. As many as 50,000 workpeople were involved at the height of the dispute, and the aggregate duration was about 1,400,000 working days. The majority of the strikers were labourers or semi-skilled workers; but a large number of skilled men were thrown idle owing to the absence of the labourers. The men demanded an all-round advance of 2s. a week on day-rates and 10% on piece-rates, with a standard minimum of 23s. a wee for unskilled men; and various rates, on a scale rising with each year of age, for youths and for girls. The parties were brought together through the intervention of the chief industrial commissioner; and an agreement was signed on July 7, fixing the standard rate for adult able-bodied unskilled labourers at 23si in the Birmingham district, and at. 22s. in the Black Country district, to be raised to 23s. after six months. The rates youths and for girls were also fixed, on a scale rising by ages: Piece-work rates were to be fixed by agreement between the' several employers and their workmen, the day-rate, howeveii; being guaranteed irrespective of piece-work earnings.

The Dublin dispute of 1913-4 was unique in British industrial history, in that it was the only dispute of importance, at least since regular records have been compiled, in which all the trades of a whole city and district were involved, including even agriculture. It was, in fact, the nearest approach to a " general, ." strike that had ever been known. Ever since the year 1908 there had been much industrial unrest in Dublin, frequently taking the form of the sympathetic strike. The " sympathetic " strike, in this developed and organized form, is a species of boycott, aiming at the complete dislocation of the trade of the firm or firms attacked; the withdrawal of their own employees is supplemented and reinforced by the refusal of the employees of other firms to handle their goods. The immediate occasion of the strike was an announcement by the Dublin Tramway Co. of the temporary closing of their parcels department, and of their intention, when that department was reopened, not to allow their employees in that department to belong to the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, which had been active in the policy of the sympathetic strike. A number of tramwaymen struck work on Aug. 26, demanding the reinstatement of the locked-out workpeople in the parcels department; they also put in claims for increased wages, shorter hours, and other concessions. Following this came strikes (or lock-outs) of employees of flour millers, coach builders, biscuit manufacturers, coal merchants, steamship companies, master carriers, master builders, timber importers, cement and brick merchants, and farmers in the County Dublin; besides a large number of independent firms, in a wide variety of trades. At a meeting on Sept. 3, 400 employers in Dublin passed a resolution to the effect that " the position created by the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union (a union in name only) was a menace to all trade organizations, and had become intolerable "; and pledging themselves not to employ members of that Union, or any persons refusing to carry out his employer's lawful and reasonable instructions. A large number of employers endeavoured to require their workpeople to sign an undertaking in the following terms: " I hereby undertake to carry out all instructions given to me by or on behalf of my employers, and, further, I agree to immediately resign my membership of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union (if a member), and I further undertake that I will not join or in any way support this Union." On Sept. 26 it was announced that a Court of Enquiry had been appointed, consisting of Sir George Askwith, Sir Thomas Ratcliffe Ellis, and Mr. J. R. Clynes, to inquire into the dispute, and to take such steps as might seem desirable with the view of arriving at a settlement. The Court of Enquiry heard evidence at Dublin on Sept. 29 and on Oct. 14, and issued their report on Oct. 6. The report (1) regretted that no steps had been taken to set up Conciliation Boards, as had been several times suggested; (2) reported that there were indications that substantial grievances existed in the various industries; (3) condemned the policy of the sympathetic strike; " no community," it declared, " could exist if resort to the sympathetic strike became the general policy of Trade Unionism "; and (4) condemned the undertaking which the employers had endeavoured to impose on the workpeople, as contrary to individual liberty, and such as no workman or body of workmen could reasonably be expected to accept. The report also made proposals for the settlement of the dispute, based on the establishment of a series of conciliation committees. These proposals were accepted by the workers but rejected by the employers, who declared that they could not recognize the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, until it was reorganized on proper lines, with new officials approved by the British Joint Labour Board.

Various other efforts were made to settle the dispute, notably by the Joint Board (the " British Joint Labour Board," already referred to). This was a composite body representing the parliamentary committee of the Trades Union Congress, the Executive Committee of the General Federation of Trade Unions, and the Executive of the Labour party. These overtures came very near to success, the parties being brought together in joint conference; but the negotiations broke down, on Dec. 20 1913, on the question of reinstatement. All this time the employers had been gradually replacing the men on strike or locked out; and a few of the men who had struck (or been locked out) had returned to work. During Jan. and the early part of Feb., the majority of the remaining strikers whose places were still open returned to work, most of them agreeing to handle all goods and to obey orders. In some cases the men also undertook not to belong to the Transport Union.

The principal dispute of 1914 was in the London building trade. Numerous strikes had occurred against the employment of nonunionists, although most of the trade unions were bound by agreements which contained ( inter alia ) a stipulation that there should be no discrimination between union and non-union labour. At a conference with eight of these trade unions, held on Dec. 23 1913, the employers put forward certain proposals for enforcing these agreements by means of penalties; these proposals were rejected by the trade unions, and on Jan. 7 1914, the London Master Builders' association gave notice that they regarded the working-rule agreements as no longer in force. The employers next endeavoured to impose on the workpeople an individual undertaking to work peacefully with non-unionists, on pain of a penalty of twenty shillings. Most of the men refused to sign the undertaking, and the strike began on Jan. 26 1914. Various efforts were made to settle the dispute; but proposals which had been agreed to by the men's representatives were twice rejected by the trade unions on a ballot vote. One of the smaller unions, however, accepted the terms at the second vote, and came to a sectional agreement; and sectional agreements were afterwards made with two other trades. At this point the National Federation of Building Trade Employers resolved on a lock-out of all their employees throughout the country, if the dispute were not settled by Aug. 15. Before the threat could be carried out, however, the World War had begun; and a settlement was hastily reached, on the basis of the acceptance by the men of the terms last offered by the employers, with certain modifications. The chief points in the settlement were: Employers to be at liberty to employ any man, but unions to have right of appeal against any operative who has made himself specially objectionable to his fellows. Ticket inspection granted, but not during working hours. National executives of unions to guarantee observance of rules. Six months' notice to be given for termination or modification of rules.

There was a strike of coal miners in Yorkshire, lasting from the middle of Feb. to nearly the end of April 1914, in which about 150,000 workpeople were at one time involved. The employers at certain collieries had refused to add the usual percentages to the newly established district minimum rates; and it was finally decided that a lower minimum should be fixed for certain collieries, and the percentages above standard calculated on these reduced minima.

The outbreak of the World War brought all the important current disputes to an end; and, though there were a large number of disputes in the remaining months of 1914, and indeed during the whole period of the war, most of them were quite unimportant, and were brought to a very speedy conclusion. After the passing of the first Munitions Act in 1915 many of these strikes were illegal; and, even when they were not illegal, they were sometimes unauthorized by the central executives of the respective trade unions. The fact that the dispute was illegal or unauthorized; the swift intervention of the Government, armed with emergency powers; and - perhaps more important than all these - the severe reprobation of strikes by public opinion, tended to restrict their scope and above all to shorten their duration. Hence the aggregate duration even of some of the disputes that excited most public feeling, such as the Clyde Engineering dispute of Feb. and March 1915 (about 110,000 working days) was quite trivial by comparison with the great disputes before the war.

On Feb. 41915, the Government appointed Sir George Askwith, Sir Francis Hopwood, and Sir George Gibb, as a " Committee on Production in Engineering and Shipbuilding Establishments," to enquire and report as to the best means of insuring that the productive power of the employees in engineering and shipbuilding establishments for Government purposes should be made fully available. The Committee recommended (inter alia ) that industrial disputes should never be allowed to result in a stoppage of work; and that disputes which could not be settled by the ordinary means should be referred to an impartial tribunal for immediate investigation and report with a view to a settlement. The Government accepted the recommendation, and appointed the Committee on Production as the tribunal indicated.

Hence in 1915, though there were over 700 disputes, there was only one with an aggregate duration of over a million days, a coal strike in South Wales, arising out of a deadlock over a wages agreement.

There was also only one large dispute in 1916, a strike of 30,000 jute workers at Dundee, which lasted from March 24 to June 8. The workpeople claimed an advance of 15% on piece-rates of wages, but ultimately returned to work on the old terms. This year was particularly free from disputes in the coal industry, which is generally the most affected by disputes.

Several unauthorized strikes, on a fairly large scale, occurred in the engineering trades in 1917. These excited a great deal of public attention, both because of the vital importance of maintenance of the fullest possible engineering output during the war, and also because the strikes were openly outbreaks of revolt, not only against the restrictions imposed on industrial freedom by various statutes and regulations, but also (what was felt to be even more serious) against the authority of the trade union executives. Measured, however, by the test of aggregate duration, only one of these disputes - the engineering strike of May 1917 - was of very serious importance; and, as all the disputes had many features in common, it will suffice here to give an account of the dispute in May and of another in November.

In Nov. 1916 the Government had introduced a system of " trade cards," under which certain trade unions, including the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, were permitted to issue cards to their own members, conferring (under specified conditions) protection from military service. The system was obviously open to abuse, and the Government decided to abolish it. Simultaneously they had before Parliament a new munitions bill, which, as originally drafted, proposed (inter alia ) to make provision for " dilution " (i.e. the partial utilization of unskilled or semi-skilled labour on work hitherto confined exclusively to skilled men) on commercial engineering work. Previously " dilution " had been confined to Government work.

The immediate occasion of the strike was a trivial dispute at an engineering works at Rochdale, the owners of which had committed a technical offence against the Munitions Acts. They were prosecuted and fined; but the result of the prosecution was not known until after the strike had begun.

On April 29 1917 the honorary secretary of an unofficial body called " the Manchester Joint Engineering Shop Stewards' Committee " sent out a letter calling upon engineers to come out on strike at the close of work on the following day against (r) dilution on private and commercial engineering work, (2) the withdrawal of the trade cards, and (3) the new munitions bill. Most of the engineering employees in Lancashire (which is the chief centre of the textile engineering trade) came out; and also in Sheffield, Derby, Southampton, and finally London. On the other hand, Glasgow, Newcastle, Cardiff, Birmingham, and Leeds, which were mainly " munition " centres, and not likely to be affected by the new policy, remained at work.

The unofficial committee who had taken charge of the strike denounced the official executives of the trade unions in violent terms. The executives, on their side, denounced the strike, and came to an agreement with the Government for the abolition of the trade card system. The Government supported the executives, declared their determination not to recognize the rebellious shop stewards, and finally arrested eight of these. Ultimately, however, the Government was obliged to receive the shop stewards' leaders; but under the guise of " the unofficial strike committee," and accompanied by the Executive Council of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers (the principal trade union concerned). A settlement was immediately arrived at, the unofficial committee agreeing to go back to their districts and get the men back to work, and leaving the negotiations in the hands of the Executive Council of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers.

The trade card system was abolished; but later in the year the minister of Munitions announced the withdrawal of the clauses in the Munitions Bill which would have permitted dilution on private work.

The Coventry strike was also a " shop stewards " strike, Coventry being one of the centres of the Shop Stewards movement. Unrest in this town was increased by the housing conditions, which were very bad, owing to the influx of munition workers and the consequent excessive overcrowding. On Nov. 19, the toolmakers and toolsetters at one of the engineering works in Coventry adopted a " stay-in " strike, as a protest against their inadequate rates of pay (in comparison with the unskilled men whom they had to instruct), and also in support of their demand for the recognition of the shop stewards. Next day the shop stewards went in a body to interview the head of the firm; he was ready to meet them, " and not ask who they were," but this was not enough for them; they demanded to be received as shop stewards. The employer refused, and the shop stewards called out all the workpeople. The whole of the engineering firms at Coventry were stopped within a few days, when it was estimated that 50,000 workpeople (men and women) were out. The strike was settled on Dec. 2 1917, by four members of the Government, who interviewed representatives of the employers and of the workpeople, the latter including some shop stewards. The negotiations which followed led up to an agreement between the Engineering Employers' Federation and the trade unions which for the first time recognized shop stewards, if duly elected. and officially endorsed and controlled by their trade unions.

Apart from the engineering and munition trades the most important dispute of 1917 was a strike of colliery examiners (overmen, firemen, and shot-firers) in South Wales for the recognition of their trade union; the other underground and surface workers, to the number of nearly 128,000, were thrown idle by the strike. After a stoppage of three days the Colliery Examiners' Trade Union was recognized, and the employers agreed to set up a joint board to decide questions relating to firemen and shot-firers.

Industrial disputes were very numerous in 1918, but the great majority involved small numbers and were of short duration. Nearly all the considerable disputes occurred in the second half of the year; the extreme seriousness of the military situation in the first half of the year exercised a restraining influence sufficient to prevent many large movements. The only strike of any magnitude in this period was one among coal miners in the employment of a " combine " in S. Wales, who sought for recognition of a committee of their own, confined to workers in the pits of the combine.

An engineering and munition strike occurred at Coventry and Birmingham in July 1918, against the introduction of what was known as the " embargo." This was a prohibition by the Government of the engagement of any additional skilled men by certain firms. The prohibition applied only to a very small number of firms, but this fact was not known to the workers; indeed the existence of the embargo at all was not generally known until a notice (in misleading terms) was issued by one of the firms affected. The strike was brought to an end, after a week's stoppage, by the Government announcing that men absent from work on July 20 would have their protection certificates withdrawn.

Two strikes in the cotton trade occurred in this year, one in Sept. and the other in December. The first arose from a demand of the cotton spinners and piecers for unemployment pay for time lost owing to the restrictions on the working of the mills imposed by the Cotton Control Board to meet the shortage of raw material. They returned to work after a week's stoppage on the promise of an enquiry by an independent tribunal, to be appointed by the Government. The second strike was in support of a demand by the cotton spinners and piecers, and the cardroom workers, for an advance of 40% on the current rates of wages (i.e. on the list prices, plus all the percentage additions already made thereto). They returned after nine days' stoppage, having obtained an advance of 50% on the standard piece-price list of wages, equivalent to about 30% on the current rates.

In this year there was also a long dispute (lasting 47 working days) between a cooperative society and the Amalgamated Union of Cooperative Employees. This union seeks to organize all classes of employees of cooperative societies, whether distributive or productive, without regard to occupation, or " craft." The cooperative society, however, demanded that its employees in printing works should belong to one or other of the " craft " unions, and not to the Amalgamated Union of Cooperative Employees. The matter was ultimately referred to arbitration, and decided in favour of the society.

The years 1919 and 1020 were years of great industrial unrest in a variety of trades. The hours of labour in the engineering and shipbuilding trades were reduced, as from Jan. r 1919, from 53 or S4 to 47 per week; but many of the workers were dissatisfied, some desiring a reduction to 44 or even 40 hours, while others were aggrieved because the rates paid to piece workers and to " lieu " workers were not increased to compensate for the reduction of hours. (Time workers received the same rate of pay for the reduced hours as for the hours previously worked.) Workpeople, to the number of 150,000 in all, came out on strike in Jan. at various centres, and remained out for periods ranging from one to eight weeks. Some returned to work unconditionally; others agreed to return on the promise of a national settlement.

There was much unrest in the coal mining industry. One hundred and fifty thousand miners were on strike in Yorkshire in Jan. 1919, in support of a demand for a simultaneous stoppage of 20 minutes per shift for meals for surface workers; most of these were out for one or two days only. The demand was granted, for the period of Government control. The same men were on strike again in July and Aug., for 'an advance of 14.3% in piece-rates to compensate for the reduction in hours from eight to seven per day; after a stoppage of from 25 to 29 days they accepted the national settlement, which gave an advance of 12.2%. In March ioo,000 miners in South Wales, the Midlands, and Yorkshire were on strike, and another 75,000 miners in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire, and other districts were on strike in July, over the question of the miners' demands for increased wages, a reduction of hours, and the nationalization of the mines.

There was a great strike in the cotton trade, for a reduction of hours and 30% advance in wages, in June and July 1919, both the spinning and the weaving sections being affected. The advance was granted, and the hours were reduced from 551 to 48 hours per week (instead of 462, as asked).

The greatest railway strike that had ever occurred in England began at midnight on Sept. 26 1919. An agreement had been made between the Government, the Railway Executive Committee (representing the companies), and the trade unions in March 1919, providing, inter alia, for the determination by negotiation of new standard rates of pay for the various grades. Standard rates were agreed upon, in Aug., for drivers and motormen, firemen and assistant motormen, and engine cleaners; and in Sept. the Board of Trade forwarded to the National Union of Railwaymen their proposals for the standard rates of other grades, showing an average advance of l00% on pre-war rates, with a minimum of £2 a week. The Union rejected these proposals, claiming that the new rate should be based on the highest standard rate already existing for each grade, plus 33s. war wage, with a minimum of £3 a week. Failing a favourable reply by Sept. 25, they announced an immediate strike. Negotiations continued, and fresh proposals were made by the Government; but the Union did not feel justified in postponing the strike, which accordingly began, as stated, at midnight on Sept. 26. The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, although not directly concerned in the dispute, supported the National Union of Railwaymen, and its members also ceased work.

On Oct. 1 a conference, arranged by the National Transport Workers' Federation (to which the railwaymen are affiliated), was attended by representatives of the Trades Union Congress Parliamentary committee, of the Labour party, and of a number of other trades besides railways. A mediating committee was appointed, and negotiations were resumed between the Government, the mediating committee, and the National Union of Railwaymen. A settlement was reached on Oct. 5, and work was resumed on the following morning.

The settlement provided for the resumption of negotiations, with the understanding that they should be completed by Dec. 31 1919; and for the stabilization of wages at their then existing level up to Sept. 30 1920 (subject to review at any time after Aug. 1 1920). It was also provided that " no adult railwayman in Great Britain shall receive less than 51s. so long as the cost of living is not less than 1 10% above pre-war level." A strike of ironmoulders, corernakers, and iron and steel dressers began on Sept. 22 1919, and lasted until Jan. 12 1920. About 65,000 men were involved in the immediate dispute; but the shortage of castings consequent on the dispute greatly hindered the working of the engineering industry for many months.

The demands of the men were for an advance in wages of 15s. a week for journeymen and 7s. 6d. a week for apprentices. At the settlement on Jan. 12 they accepted an advance of 5s. for men over 18 years of age, the same as had been granted to men in the engineering trades in the previous November. It was also agreed that negotiations should be resumed on the que


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

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