Causes of Industrial Unrest 1900-14
Towards the end of the 1890s, a period of falling prices had given way to inflation, and, under the Liberals, the economy began to expand again. By 1911, unemployment had fallen to 3 per cent. So why was there so much discontent on the industrial front?
· The 1906 Trades Disputes Act removed the restraint that unions were legally liable for costs incurred to their employers as a result of a strike, and the accumulated grievances of working people combined to prompt widespread industrial action.
· Many unions amalgamate into federations such as the Miners Federation. This gave them more power and gave any stoppages a much greater impact.
· Industrial workers had looked to the Labour Party to right their wrongs. In this they were disappointed and there were several reasons for this:
o Labour MPs in Parliament were a small group. Only 42 Labour MPs remained after the two elections of 1910 and, lacking parliamentary experience, their influence on the Liberal government was slight.
o After 1910 the Labour Party (led by Ramsay MacDonald) found itself supporting Liberal legislation rather than initiating reforms that would help the working class.
o The Osborne Judgement of 1909 meant that the Labour Party was chronically underfunded, even though the payment of salaries (£400 per…