Causes of the General Strike
- Unemployment and growth of Trade Unions
- After WW1, Britain faces unemployment problems in its staple industries such as shipbuilding and coal. Trade Union membership had risen considerably
- The Coal Miners' Strike
- Coal was Britain's most important staple industry - as an energy source and major export
- Coal mines were nationalised during WW1 then privatised afterwards - miners' wages were subsidised by the government.
- In June 1925, mine owners announced plans to cut wages
- The TUC's support for the miners led to the Conservatives to back down from a major industrial confrontation known as Red Friday
- Samuel Commission is set investigate the mining industry
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Reasons for the failure of the General Strike
- Government readiness
- By the time the Samuel Commission reported, the government was well-prepared for a major industrial strike
- The Organisation for the Maintenance of Supplies was created to train volunteer strike breakers to drive trucks and assist with the distribution of food and fuel
- Baldwin's tactics
- Organised the government's case by presenting the strike as a conflict between elected constitutional government and the Trade Unions
- The British Gazette was launched to convey this message
- Control of the BBC radio helped generate public backing for the government
- The Trade Union Congress' was unprepared
- Although the TUC supported the miners, it was not prepared to fight a long strike for fear of placing too great a strain on Trade Union funds
- Miners continued to strike after May but most had returned to work by November
- Their refusal to accept the Samuel Commission's recommendations meant they had to accept the owners' terms for returning to work
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Consequences of the General Strike
- Miners maintained resistance for a few months before being forced by their own economic needs to return to the mines.
- Many miners remained unemployed for many years.
- Those that were employed were forced to accept longer hours, lower wages, and district wage agreements.
- The strikers felt as though they had achieved nothing.
- The Trade Disputes and Trade Unions of 1927 forbade sympathetic strikes and mass picketing.
- TUC lost support as people believed that they were not going to give the help required
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