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The General Strike of 1926

Uploaded by Admin on Oct 19, 1999

Why did the General Strike of 1926 fail and what were the effects the strike had upon industrial relations in Britain?
The General Strike of 1926 lasted only nine days and directly involved around 1.8 million workers. It was the short but ultimate outbreak of a much longer conflict in the mining industry, which lasted from the privatisation of the mines after the First World War until their renewed nationalisation after the Second. The roots of the General Strike in Britain, unlike in France or other continental countries, did not lie in ideological conceptions such as syndicalism but in the slowly changing character of trade union organisation and tactics. On the one hand, unskilled and other unapprenticed workers had been organised into national unions since the 1880s to combat sectionalism and to strengthen their bargaining power and the effectiveness of the strike weapon. On the other hand, at the same time and for the same reason trade unions had developed the tactic of industry-wide and 'sympathetic' strikes. Later during the pre-war labour unrest these two forms of strike action, 'national' and 'sympathetic', were more often used together which in an extreme case could have meant a general strike. The symbol of this new strategy was the triple alliance, formed in 1914, which was a loose, informal agreement between railwaymen, transport workers and miners to support each other in case of industrial disputes and strikes. As G.A. Phillips summarised:
The General Strike was in origin, therefore, the tactical product of a pattern of in-dustrial conflict and union organisation which had developed over the past twenty-five years or so in industries where unionism had been introduced only with difficulty, among rapidly expanding labour forces traditionally resistant to organisation, or against strong opposition from employers.
Therefore, a large majority of the British Labour movement saw a general strike along the traditional 'labourist' view, which emphasised the separation of the political and the industrial sphere, as a purely industrial act. This notion was supported the developments in the 1920s when the depression and the employers offensive weakened the militant and revolutionary forces , whereas the success of the Labour Party and the reorganisation of the TUC General Council further strengthened these 'labourist' forces. The government's and the employer's view, of course, was a different one. Since the French syndicalists in 1906 had drawn up the Charter of Amiens, reaffirming their belief in direct political action and...

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Uploaded by:   Admin

Date:   10/19/1999

Category:   European History

Length:   11 pages (2,384 words)

Views:   1929

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