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Labor Unrest in England, 1910–1914

  • Ronald V. Sires (a1)

Extract

During the last four years before the outbreak of war in 1914 the people of England experienced an unprecedented combination of political strife and labor unrest. The struggle over the budget of 1909 had led to a constitutional crisis over the powers of the House of Lords in 1910–1911; suffragettes were resorting to obstructive and exasperating tactics to win the vote for women; the question of home rule almost resulted in civil war in North Ireland and brought what amounted to a threat of dereliction of duty by high military officers, who could not contemplate the use of force against the opponents of home rule; while the restlessness of labor brought a series of massive strikes in which the rank and file of workers often broke from the discipline of their leaders.

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1 Report on Strikes and Lockouts and on Conciliation and Arbitration Boards in the United Kingdom in 1911. With Comparative Statistics for 1902-1910,” Part. Pap., 19121913, XLVII, cd. 6472, passim; Parl. Pap., 19141916, XXXVI, cd. 7658, xvi; Settlement of Industrial Disputes in Great Britain,” Monthly Labor Review, XLVII (July 1938), 3951; Hilton, John, “Strikes and Lockouts,” Encyclopaedia Britannica (1950), XXI, 467–72.

2 Rostow, W. W., British Economy in the Nineteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1948), p. 33, Table II; Part. Pap., 1911, LXXXIX, cd. 5849, 3, 9, 30-31.

3 Parl. Pap., 1913, LXVI, cd. 6955, xxxix-lix, passim, and 110-11 ; Cunningham, W., The Causes of the Labour Unrest and the Remedies for It (London: John Murray, 1912), pp. 89 ; Parl. Deb., 5th Ser., XXXIV, cols. 82-83, February 15, 1912 ; Barker, J. E., “The Labour Unrest and Its Meaning,” Nineteenth Century, LXX (September 1911), 441–60 ; “The Claims of Labour,” Nation (London), August 12, 1911, pp. 698–99.

4 “Unrest and Its Cure,” Nation (London), August 19, 1911, pp. 729–31 ; “The Claims of Labour,” Ibid., August 12, 1911, pp. 698–99 ; Askwith, George R., Industrial Problems and Disputes (London: John Murray, 1920), p. 177 ; Henderson, Fred, The Labour Unrest–What It Is and What It Portends (London: Jarrold and Sons [1912]), pp. 119–48 ; Ickornshaw, Snowden of, Philip Snowden, 1st Viscount, Autobiography (2 vols.; London: Ivor Nicholson, 1937). I, 124-25. 127–28.

5 Élie Halévy, A History of the English People in the Nineteenth Century (6 vols.; London: Benn, 1952), VI, 450–59 ; Cole, G. D. H. and Postgate, Raymond, The British Common People, 1746-1938 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1939), pp. 429–34.

6 Nation (London), August 19, 1911, pp. 729–31.

7 Mallock, W. H., “Labour Unrest as a Subject of Official Investigation,” Nineteenth Century, LXXI (June 1912), 1029–45 ; Clay, Sir Arthur, “Public Opinion and Industrial Unrest,” Nineteenth Century, LXX (December 1911), 1005–21 ; Pall Mall Gazette, August 15, 1911, p. 7 ; letter from “Employer,” Pall Mall Gazette, August 14, 1911, p. 7.

8 Seager, H. R., “Legal Status of Trade Unionism in the United Kingdom …,” Political Science Quarterly,XXII (December 1907), 611–29.

9 Millis, Harry A. and Montgomery, Royal E., The Economics of Labor (3 vols.; New York and London: McGraw-Hill, 1938-1945), III, 776–77 ; Chang, Ducksoo, British Methods of Industrial Peace; a Study of Democracy in Relation to Labor Disputes (Studies in History, Economics and Public Law, No. 425) (New York: Columbia University Press, 1936), pp. 4752 ; Parl. Pap., 1910, XXI, No. 5, 6.

10 , Millis and , Montgomery, Economics of Labor, III, 778 ; , Chang, British Methods of Industrial Peace, pp. 5759 ; Part. Pap., 1914, XLVIII, cd. 7089, xli-xlii.

11 Parl. Pap., 1912-13, XLVI, cd. 6472, 21 ; Tillett, Ben, History of the London Transport Workers' Strike, 1911 (London: National Transport Workers' Federation [1912]), pp. 13.

12 Devonport, Viscount, The Traveled Road–Some Memories of a Busy Life (Rochester, [England]: Privately printed, 1935), pp. 165–68 ; , Tillett, London Transport Workers' Stride, 1911, pp. 1-3, 713. Hudson Eubanke Kearly had become Viscount Devonport in June 1911.

13 Parl. Pap., 1912-13, XLVII, cd. 6472, 151-52.

14 , Tillett, London Transport Workers' Strike, 1911, pp. 1318 ; , Devonport, The Traveled Road, pp. 169–70 ; , Askwith, Industrial Problems and Disputes, pp. 154–55 ; Daily Graphic, August 9, 1911, p. 1 ; Daily Express, August 10, 1911, pp. 1, 5 ; Part. Deb., 5th Sec, XXIX, cols. 1972-74, August 16, 1911.

15 Copies of the various agreements may be found in Parl. Pap., 1912-13, XLVII, cd. 6472, 153-68.

16 parl. Pap., 1913, XXVIII, cd. 6953, Ques. 366-73, 387, 2024-43; Parl. PaP., 1912-13, LXXXIX, No. 201 ; The Times (London), May-July, 1912, passim ; Gosling, Harry, Up and Down Stream (London: Methuen, 1927), pp. 157-59, 163-64, 171–73 ; , Devonport, The Traveled Road, pp. 172, 176–84 ; , Askwith, Industrial Problems and Disputes, pp. 221-22, 224–30 ; Carter, J., “The Transport Workers' Strike in London,” Economic Review, XXII (October 1912), pp. 436–41.

17 , Gosling, Up and Down Stream, p. 164.

18 , Sidney and Webb, Beatrice, Industrial Democracy (2 vols. in one; London, New York: Longmans, 1902), pp. 46, n. 2, and 353-54 ; S. and Webb, B., The History of Trade Unionism (London, New York: Longmans, 1902), pp. 393, 426, 429 ; Cole, G. D. H. and Arnot, R. Page, Trade Unionism on the Railways … (“Trade Union Series,” No. 2) (Westminster: Fabian Research Department, and London: George Allen and Unwin, 1917), p. 39.

19 Parl. Pap., 1910, XXXI, No. 5, 3438 ; Watney, Charles and Little, James A., Industrial Warfare–the Aims and Claims of Capital and Labour (London: John Murray, 1912), pp. 5558.

20 , Watney and , Little, Industrial Warfare, pp. 5859 ; Cole, G. D. H., Short History of the British Wording Class Movement, 1787-1947 (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1948), pp. 332–33 ; speech of MacDonald, J. Ramsay, Parl. Deb., 5th Ser., XXIX, col. 1953, August 16, 1911.

21 Parl. Pap., 19121913, XVII, NO. 87, 5.

22 , Askwith, Industrial Problems and Disputes, pp. 163–64.

23 The Railway Times–a Journal of Finance, Construction and Operation, August 18 and 19, 1911 ; Parl. Pap., 19121913, XVII, No. 87, 6.

24 , Cole, British Wording Class Movement, 17871947, p. 335 ; Sumner, Mary Brown, “Railroad Men and the English Conciliation Boards,” Survey, XXVII (January 20, 1912), 1618-21 ; Parl. Pap., 19121913, XVII, No. 87, 7.

25 , Cole and , Arnot, Trade Unionism on the Railways, pp. 12-13, 2630 ; , Cole and , Postgate, The British Common People, 17461938, pp. 440–43.

26 Register, 1909, pp. 154–55 ; Annual Register, 1910, pp. 68, 223–24 ; Part. Pap., 1911, XII, No. 96, 3 ; Jevons, H. Stanley, The British Coal Trade (London: Kegan Paul, 1915), pp. 489519.

27 Part. Deb., 5th Ser., XX, cols. 10–17, November 15, 1910 and cols. 406–11, November 24, 1910 ; Reynold's Newspaper (London), November 13, 1910, p. 3.

28 Part. Pap., 1911, LXIV, cd. 5568, gives the day-by-day communications of Churchill, the military officers, and the police authorities in the crisis.

29 This attitude is illustrated in a statement by the manager of a colliery. In a heated conversation with a Metropolitan police officer he said that the police from London were now sworn constables; that he had made a requisition for their services; and that they were his employees as long as he wished. Local police officers had in the past looked on mine managers as having a kind of authority over them. During the strike, a local police officer informed a military officer that by the kind permission of Mr. (a mine manager) a certain number of police had been drawn from the mine to the town.”–Parl, Pap., 1911, LXIV, cd. 5568, 25-26, 4849.

30 Parl. Deb., 5th Ser., XX, cols. 3-30, 262-63, 313-17, 406-16, November 15, 22, and 24, 1910.

31 The Times (London), November 9, 1910, p. 11, cols, d, e.

32 The Times (London), November 16, 1910, p. 11, cols, e, f.

33 Part. Pap., 19121913, XVII, No. 87, 123–24.

34 , Askwith, Industrial Problems and Disputes, pp. 201–9 ; , Cole, British Working Class Movement, 1787-1947, pp. 338–40. For a discussion of the Industrial Council, see below, pp. 264-65.

35 , Askwith, Industrial Problems and Disputes, pp. 204, 210–14 ; Part. Deb., 5th Ser., XXXIV, February-March 1912, passim.

36 , Askwith, Industrial Problems and Disputes, pp. 215–17.

37 , Jevons, The British Coal Trade, pp. 571600.

38 Congress, Trades Union, Forty-fifth Annual Report, 1972 (hereafter T.U.C.), pp. 9093.

39 T.U.C., 1913, pp. 149-50, 152–53.

40 Parl. Pap., 1912 1913, XVII, No. 87, pp. 114–20 ; T.U.C., 1912, pp. 128–32 ; , Chang, British Methods of Industrial Peace, pp. 5456.

41 Parl. Pap., 1913, XXVIII, cd. 6952.

42 T.U.C., 1912, pp. 97-98 and 239–42 ; T.U.C., 1913, pp. 223-24, 239–44.

43 One resolution (moved by Ben Tillett) called on the Parliamentary Committee of the T.U.C. to circularize the unions to get opinions on forming a national federation or confederation of trades. A similar resolution favored corresponding action by unions within specific industries. The discussion of it led to unpleasant remarks about the numerous competing unions ini the Sheffield cutlery trades.– T.U.C., 1910, pp. 122, 124–25.

44 T.U.C., 1912, pp. 7074 ; T.U.C., 1913, pp. 110–14. Five unions voted in favor of both parts of the proposal, six were against both, and one voted for the first part and against the second (the benefit provisions). Only 25,762 ballots were cast in a total of 112,235 distributed.

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