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Scotland and the Scots, 1707-2007

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Christian Auer

XIV. Political and social unrest

98. The General Strike of 1926

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1In 1926 the government set up a Royal Commission to look into the problems of the Mining Industry. The report of the Commission recognised that the industry needed to be reorganised and recommended that the miners’ wages should be reduced. The Conference of the Trades Union Congress that met on 1 May 1926 announced that a General Strike “in defence of miners’ wages and hours” was to begin two days later. The General Strike began on 4 May when transport, the docks, metal trades, building, printing and power industries were closed down. The strike ended on 12 May 1926 when it was called off by the Trades Union Congress. Overall there was a high level of participation and militancy in Scotland although the Scottish Trades Union Congress was not well prepared for the strike. The miners refused to give in and they held out for several months, but by October 1926 hunger and desperation made them go back to work. In 1927 the British Government passed the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Act which outlawed general strikes and banned civil servants from joining unions affiliated to the Trades Union Congress.

2The British Worker was published by the General Council of the Trades Union Congress.

3The British Worker, 7 May 1926.

CAPITAL AT A STANDSTILL

Edinburgh now a Strong Link in TU Chain

Engineers restive

Until the development of the present dispute Edinburgh has been regarded as a weak spot in trade union organisation. The response to the call of the Trades Union Congress effectively disposes of that belief.

The chief difficulty of the Central Strike Committee has been to confine the conflict to the limits of the Council’s instructions. The printing trade is entirely closed down, except for two blackleg papers printed by a single non union firm. Save from a few trams and buses manned by blackleg students, who have been promised immunity from examinations, transport has entirely ceased.

Out en masse

The railway men are solid—not a wheel is turning, and the busmen employed by the Scottish Motor Traction Company, which has a virtual monopoly in the district, are out en masse. No effort has been made to organise a blackleg service.

The 14 NUR branches in the district, along with the Railway Clerks’ Association and the locomotive Engineers and Firemen, have formed a joint strike committee. Building trades workers are chaffing at the limitations imposed upon them. As there are no direct labour schemes proceeding a complete stoppage in this industry is likely ere this appears in print. The docks at Leith are at an absolute standstill, and the Mid and East Lothian miners are out to a man.

Glasgow

  • 11 The National Union of Railwaymen, a trade union of railway workers that was established in 1913.
  • 12 The London Midland and Scottish Railway, a railway company formed on 1 January 1923.

In the Glasgow area, the District Committee of the NUR11 reports that only seven uniform men are working on the LMS12 section between Glasgow and Ayr. The tramway manager has introduced a uniform minimum fare of two pence on routes within the city. Cars are not being run in the East End, which is proof against blacklegs.

Notes

11 The National Union of Railwaymen, a trade union of railway workers that was established in 1913.

12 The London Midland and Scottish Railway, a railway company formed on 1 January 1923.

© Presses universitaires de Strasbourg, 2013

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