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Scotland and the Scots, 1707-2007

Christian Auer

XIV. Political and social unrest

95. The Strike is Extending, February 1919

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1The Strike Bulletin was the official publication of the 40-hour Movement (the headline of the first issue read “Glasgow’s Bloody Friday—Brutal attack on defenceless strikers”). It had a very short life since it was only published from the 1st to the 12th of February 1919.

2The Strike Bulletin, 5 February 1919.



The strike is extending

The movement has become national and nearly every industrial centre in the country is on strike, or preparing to strike, to enforce the demand for the 40 hours. The Barrow men down tools to-day and the London men come into the arena to-morrow. Sheffield and Birmingham are in full preparation for action, and a general strike is about to be declared in Ireland. The Scottish workers have united the ranks in a spirit that no force can break.

The strike wave spreads, and the employers are helpless, craven, beaten. The transport workers are on the move; the tube employees in London have struck; the Durham miners are coming to your aid; and even the waiters in London have been inspired by your courage and unity to make a stand for better conditions. The idle rich of London, who applauded the brutality of the Glasgow police, are in danger of having their food supplies cut off. When they cannot get waiters to feed them they will not be so ready to cheer when unarmed workers are being clubbed.

  • 9 See introduction to chapter 14, p. 283.

The workers everywhere are rallying to the call, incensed by the ruffianism inflicted on your women and children in George Square9. The cowardly treachery of the planned police attack has kindled a flame of revolt in every town and village. Little did they think that batons, machine-guns and tanks would have the effect of extending the strike, or they would never have brought them to Glasgow. By employing force to crush the strike they have beaten themselves. They do not know the workers if they can think they can bully them like slaves.

The idea behind the 40-hour strike is more powerful than tanks or battle cruisers, and will win through against all the armaments in the world. The idea is winning through now, and by the end of the week it will be crowned in triumph as the industrial right of every worker in the land.

Justice must prevail over force, and the claim for the shorter working week is based on justice.

Workers of Scotland! You are bonnie fechters and we are proud to be in your ranks. You are making the best fight in the history of your class, and your moral power and courage make the oppressors and profiteers quake with terror. The Government would not intervene to help you in your demand; but when the employers asked them to intervene they sent machine-guns and tanks and an armed force to crush your strike. The last time the tanks were here they took your money; now they are here to help the employers to burst your unions!

Your unity is stronger than tanks or scabs or cruel employers or anti-labour governments. And it is your unity that is going to win. The might of labour is on your side. The press may lie, and the authorities may bully; the authorities may bribe the false; but all these efforts are futile against your granite mountain of unity.

Hold on! Victory is within your grasp, and, with the workers of Britain to reinforce your strength, the profiteers will flee before you like chaff before the storm.

The 40 hour is won.


9 See introduction to chapter 14, p. 283.

© Presses universitaires de Strasbourg, 2013

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