Causes of the General Strike, 1926
Long Term Problems (Pre-1914)
Conditions for miners
* Mining was notoriously dangerous due to the presence of gas and accidental cave-ins * Miners suffered poor health due to coal… ‘Black Lung’ (Pneumosilicosis). State of mining industry
* The majority of mines were old or small and the coal was still being cut by hand. * Ownership was fragmented with little investment from companies. Unionised workforce
* One in ten of all male workers were coal miners-one of the largest workforces. * Miners’ unions had existed since the 1840’s. In 1889 the Miners’ Federation was formed and became one of the strongest unions. * It joined with Transport and Railwaymen to form the Triple Alliance before WWI. The unions promised sympathetic strike action in support of each other.
Medium Term Problems (1919-1924)
* 1921, Mines returned to original private owners after wartime nationalisation. At the beginning of 1924 miners, dockers and train workers negotiated a pay settlement with government, however soon after British coal was needed again. Decline in Coat exports
* From 1919 exports fell due to foreign competition. 1913 exports totalled 94 million tons however in 1921 this had fallen to 36 million tons. * A recovery in 1923-4 due to the French occupation of the Ruhr was only temporary. German coal was being supplied to Italy and France as part of reparations. * Major British coal importers were buying less in 1925 than before the war, except Belgium. Trade Union Ineffectiveness
* 1921, Owners called for wage cuts and return to local bargaining, miners refused and were locked out. * ‘Black Friday’, 15th April 1921, Triple Alliance withdraws support for miners. * The lock out lasted till June and they were then forced to accept wage cuts.
Return to the Gold Standard
* April, 1925 Chancellor of Exchequer Churchill put Britain on Gold...
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