History: The Match Girls' Strike

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Who consisted of most of the Bryant and May match-making works in Bromley-by-Bow, in the East End?
Teenage Girls and women - 1,5000 of them.
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What background did the workers of Bryant and May match-making works come from?
From the surrounding area, living in Extreme Poverty.
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How were the workers of Bryant and May match-making works paid? How were they paid?
On piecework - they were paid by the number of matches or matchboxes they made or packed, rather than by the number of hours they worked.
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Who found out about the treatment of the workers? Who was she?
Clementina Black - a writer, and a friend of Eleanor Marx, daughter of Karl Marx - a German writer and thinker who lived in exile in London.
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What did Karl Marx criticise? What did he put forward?
The system 'capitalism' in which businesses were run for private profit, often exploiting workers. He put forward a fairer system called 'socialism' in which business were run to meet human needs instead.
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What was Clementina Black interested in? What did she try and do?
She was interested in women's employment and tried to encourage women to join trade unions.
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What did Clementina Black do at the London Fabian Society in June 1888? Who did this talk attract?
She gave a talk about the contrast between the large profits Bryant and May made and the low pay of their workers. This talk interested a socialist journalist, Annie Besant.
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What did Annie Besant decide to do after the talk?
Follow it up and interviews several workers outside the factory, publishing what they told her in her newspaper The Link.
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Talk about the workers pay and hours.
Long hours, low pay and this pay was reduced further by fines for petty offences.
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What did the girls and women have to ask permission to do? What happened to them?
Go to the toilet and they were sometimes beat by the foremen.
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What was the further hazard in the factory?
There was a serious health danger - the matches were tipped with red phosphorus, which stained the worker's skins and caused a form of bone cancer called 'phossy jaw', which could be fatal.
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What did Annie Besant's article do? Explain.
Caused quite a stir. Some newspapers supported Bryant and May like the times.
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What did Mr Bryant do following the article published by Annie Besant?
Publish a statement in which he called his employees liars, denied the fines system&claimed the socialist agitators had stirred up trouble. He told his employees to sign a paper saying that they were happy to work.Some refused&were sacked on the spot
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How many workers left the factory after they were called liars? What did they do?
200 left and marched to Annie Besant's office in Fleet Street.
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What did Annie Besant help the sacked factory workers do?
Form an organising committee and soon all the workers were on strike.
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Talk about what the Union of Match Workers did.
50 of the workers went 2 Westminster 2 lobby parliament.The strikers were supported with strike pay by the London Trades Council-who previously ignored the situation of unskilled women workers.Campaigning newspapers&Salvation Army came out in support
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Who set up the Union of Match Workers?
Annie Besant and Herbert Burrows (another socialist journalist) whom were advised by Clementina Black
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What happened after three weeks of the workers strike?
Besant and May backed down, reemployed all those they had sacked, and abolished the fines system. It was a victory for the most powerless people in the country - women in poverty.
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What happened after the success of the Union of Match Workers?
More unions for unskilled workers were formed.
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What did the Salvation Army do?
Set up its own match works, using the harmless yellow phosphorus and paying the workers twice the Bryant and May rate.
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What did Bryant and May do in 1901?
Stopped using red phosphorus.
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What happened in 1910?
The use of red phosphorus was banned.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

What background did the workers of Bryant and May match-making works come from?

Back

From the surrounding area, living in Extreme Poverty.

Card 3

Front

How were the workers of Bryant and May match-making works paid? How were they paid?

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

Who found out about the treatment of the workers? Who was she?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

What did Karl Marx criticise? What did he put forward?

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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