Unrest in the mines

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Industrial Unrest in the Mines

  • The greatest problems for the governments were in the mining industry.

  • During WW1 the government had used DORA to take direct control of the mines

  • Instead of mines being under the control of many different owners, they were run by the government with all mines offering the same wages and conditions of employment

  • Miners hoped that the government would keep control of the mines after the war and the Royal Commission(Sankey Commission) was set up to consider how the mines should be run

  • It was recommended that the government retain control of the mines

  • The government refused and returned them to their previous owners in March 1921.

  • This coincided with a price drop.

  • In 1921 prices were less than half of what they had been, due to this mine owners had to cut wages by up to 50% and tried to lengthen the working day.

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Black Friday (15th April 1921)

  • The triple alliance of 1913 had been renewed in 1919 and in the same year had proved effective in stopping the railway companies from cutting the wages of railwaymen ,

  • Therefore the Miner’s federation asked the railwaymen and transport workers for help against owners

  • Joint strike was agreed on 15 April 1921

  • At the last minute railwaymen  and transport workers pulled out, leaving the miners to strike alone

  • Miners called this day Black Friday:Black Friday destroyed the ‘triple alliance’ of miners, transport workers and railway men, created in 1914 to express and reinforce working-class solidarity.

  • They continued with their strike but were forced to accept the new terms and conditions and return to work.

  • In the following months, Dockers, railwaymen and builders also had to accept pay cuts

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Red Friday (31st July 1925)

  • In 1925 the price of coal fell once more, mine owners announced a wage cut and increase of one hour on the working day.

  • The miners’ leader A.J cook, angrily announced his men would accept “not a penny off the pay, not a minute on the day!”

  • This time he knew the triple alliance would hold

  • The government knew it too, so on 31 July 1925 (Red Friday) the PM Baldwin announced that the government would provide a subsidy to keep wages at their current level for the Next nine months

  • Set up commission led by Sir Herbert Samuel to find a solution to the problem in the mines.

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The General Strike

How did the Samuel Commission come about?

  • In 1925 price of coal fell and again, mine owners announced wage cut and increase of 1 hour in working day
  • Miners’ Leader (AJ Cook) angrily announced that the miners would not allow this, knowing that the railway/transport workers would support the miners
  • The government knew this and on 31st July 1926 (Red Friday), prime minister (Baldwin) announced government would provide subsidy to keep wages at same level for the next 9 months
  • He also set up a commission led by Sir Herbert Samuel to find solution to the problems in the mines


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Samuel Commission

What recommendations did it make?      

1.     No increase in working day

2.     Wages should be cut

3.     Mine owners should set up programme of investment to modernise pits

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Result of Changes

Did the government subsidy work?

·       Ran out on 30th April, 1926

·       Miners again reduced wages and tried to increase hours


How did the miners react?

·       Refused to accept the cut/increased hours

·       TUC (Trade Union Congress) took on negotiations and threatened to call a strike of all its members – the General Strike 

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Causes of the General Strike

Why did talks between the government and the TUC break down to cause the strike?

·       3rd May 1926 printers of Daily Mail refused to print article which criticised the striker’s movement

·       4th May 1926 the TUC called out dockers/transport workers/railwaymen/workers in gas/electricity

·       5th May 1926 Government launched its own newspaper (The British Gazette); aggressive propaganda criticising strikes

·       TUC retaliated through their newspaper (The British Worker); countered government propaganda

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What form did the General Strike take?

Why was the strike successful to begin with?

  • TUC agreed that hospital workers/food transporters not called out
  • Reports of strikers/police played football matches
  • Volunteers filled gaps e.g. women worked on post and students drove buses
  • 226 000 people volunteered as special constables to take order

Why did it turn sour?

  • Clashes between angry strikers and volunteers e.g. some buses set on fire
  • Clashes between angry strikers and police e.g. police made baton-charges on strikers in major cities such as Hull, Glasgow and Newcastle
  • Clashes between angry strikers and those who chose not to strike
  • Government claimed Britain was threatened by the revolution
  • Catholic Church declared the strike to be a ‘sin’
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End of the General Strike

Why did it end?

·      Miners wanted to develop the strike and asked the TUC to call out power works and cut off supplies

·       12th May 1926 TUC visited government and after, called off the strike (miners felt betrayed) but they had reasons

o   Running out of funds as had spent £4million and gov. had spent £433million

o   TUC was losing propaganda war as gov. cleverly portrayed it as an attack on democracy/a revolutionary organisation

o   Was worried clashes between strikers and police would worsen

o   TUC couldn’t see how it could win the strike as middle classes volunteers in large numbers to do the work and even seemed to be enjoying it


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Result of the General Strike

What were the results of the strike?

·       Many employers took opportunity to cut wages

·       Miners carried on with strike but forced to return to work in November 1926 with longer hours/less pay

·       Mine owners dismissed union leaders

·       1927 the government passed Trades Dispute Act: illegal for workers to strike in support of other workers (sympathy strikes)

·       Workers saw little value in union membership in next few years and number of workers in trade unions dropped dramatically

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Causes of WW1

  • Killing of Franz Ferdinand
  • Hunger for Land and Power
  • Alliance System





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Early Stages


  • In the early stages of the war, both sides (the entente and the alliance) believed it would end quickly
  • The germans had a plan(the schliffen plan) that menat Germany would not have to fight a war on two fronts
  • They believed they could attack France and then Turn to attack Russia


  • They expected a quick war
  • Enthusiasm dampened by Death Lists
  • Unsure of technology used by other countries
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  • British Army outnumberered by Germany
    • Lord Kitchner put in chrage of recruitment
  • Suggests 100,000 men needed
    • Achived in 19 days
  • Within a month 500,000 men had signed up


  • Chance to see the world
  • Get out of dead end jobs
  • Glamorous-seen as amazing and exciting
  • No one considered dying
  • Seen as an easy victory
  • Morally correct thing to do
  • Increase importance- capacity to crete a man like identity
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Pals Battalions


  • formed on the basis of those who joined together served together
  • extremely popular
  • many different progressions had their own battalions
  • trained together by elederly officers
  • Over 300 Batallions
  • 250,000 men joined altogether
  • Serving together meant dying together
  • In central manchester, all houses had their blinds pulled down as a sign of mournign
  • Every house had lost someone due to the 1st battle of Somme


Ordianry men who signed up due to recruitment drive. thousands who signed up found themselves in trench warfare in France and Belgium

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