The General Strike Of 1926 Essay

2814 words - 11 pages

The General Strike of 1926

In 1926 the General Council of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) called
out workers throughout the country on a general strike for nine days
in an attempt to force the government to act to prevent the wages and
conditions of coal miners being lowered. There is no one reason why
the General Strike of 1926 took place, instead a large number of long
and short term causes led towards the event, which was finally set off
by a trigger cause. An example of a long term cause would be the
history of bad relations between mine owners and their workers, a
short term cause would be the Samuel Report and a trigger the Daily
Mail article. Each cause led towards the strike and this essay will
examine what these causes were, and how important they were in
bringing about the General Strike.

A long-term factor which contributed largely towards the strike was
misplaced post-war optimism. During the war Trade Unions had worked
alongside the Government to agree on working conditions. They had even
allowed unskilled workers, such as women to take on jobs that could no
longer be filled by the skilled workers, who were off at war- this was
known as dilution of labour. However, this disillusionment of improved
working conditions did not last for long. When the war was over the
skilled workers returned to these jobs, leaving those who had filled
in for them unemployed and disillusioned. It was not only those who
had lost their jobs who felt this way, but those that remained in
their posts at companies which were handed back to private ownership
were disheartened by the deteriorating working conditions, due to
denationalisation. When the people of England came to the realization
that post-war England would not be quite what they had first thought
they were more willing to strike. Unemployment was rising rapidly and
had reached over 2 million men by the summer of 1921- people were
losing their jobs in shipyards, cotton mills and coalmines across
Britain. This was quite an important factor which helped to lead to
the General Strike. If post-war England had been how it was
anticipated to be then it is extremely improbable people would have
been inclined to strike, in this way the General Strike may have been
prevented. However since they were dissatisfied with the conditions
they were working in they went on strike with the miners with the
conception it would prevent their working conditions from being
lowered.

Another long-term factor of similar importance to the misplaced
post-war optimism was pre-war union activity. There were many active
trade unions, for example the National Transport Workers Federation
(NTWF) and the National Union of Railwaymen (NUR) were widely known.
During the 19th Century working conditions were very bad, people
worked long hours for little pay....

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