1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Strikes and Lock-outs

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14051061922 Encyclopædia Britannica — Strikes and Lock-outs

STRIKES AND LOCK-OUTS (see 25.1024). In the following account of later developments between 1907 and 1921, strikes in the United Kingdom are first dealt with, sections following for other countries.

(A) United Kingdom

I. Statistics.—Table 1 shows the total number of strikes or lock-outs recorded in each year from 1907 to 1920, inclusive; the number of workpeople involved therein, and the aggregate loss of working days due to these disputes.

Table 1.

No. of
No. of Workpeople
 Directly and Indirectly 
Duration of
Disputes in
 Working Days 

 1907  601  147,000  2,162,000 
 1908 399  296,000  10,834,000 
 1909 436  301,000  2,774,000 
 1910 531  515,000  9,895,000 
 1911 903  962,000  10,320,000 
 1912 857  1,463,000  40,915,000 
 1913 1,497  689,000  11,631,000 
 1914 999  449,000  10,111,000 
 1915 707  453,000  3,040,000 
 1916 578  281,000  2,581,000 
 1917 803  885,000  5,809,000 
 1918 1,300  1,142,000  6,332,000 
 1919  1,413   2,515,000   34,903,000 
 1920 1,715  1,932,000  27,011,000 

It will be seen that the figures show a general advancing tendency, partially checked during the World War. The total for the year 1920 shows the highest figure ever recorded for number of disputes, the highest figure (with one exception) for the number of workpeople involved, and the highest figure (with three exceptions) for the aggregate duration of disputes. The exceptions in this latter case are 1893, with 30,468,000 working days; 1912, with 40,915,000 working days; and 1919, with 34,903,000 working days. In 1893, 1912 and 1920 the high figures were principally due to great coal strikes; the year 1919 was a year of great industrial unrest.

As showing the general advancing tendency of the figures, it may be instructive to compare the average of the four years 1907-10 with the average of the four years 1917-20:—

Average of
 Years 1907-10 
Average of
 Years 1917-20 

 No. of Disputes 492  1,308 
 No. of Workpeople Involved 315,000  1,633,500 
 Aggregate Duration (in Working Days)   6,416,000   18,511,000 

It should be stated that the increase in the number of disputes may be partly accounted for by improved facilities for obtaining information with regard to minor disputes, which may have previously escaped notice; but this will not account for more than an insignificant part of the increase in the figures for number of workpeople involved and for aggregate duration, since the greater disputes, involving large numbers of workpeople, have always been well reported in the newspapers. Table 2 (p. 583) shows the distribution of strikes between the principal groups of trades, taking the averages for the 10 years 1911-20.

Table 2 shows that the average number of workpeople involved in each dispute was a little over 1,000, and that the average duration of disputes was about 14 days. The figures, however, vary widely as between one trade and another. Thus, the average number of workpeople varies from a little more than 200, in the building trades, to over 3,000 in the mining and quarrying group; while the average duration varies from 8 days, in the transport trades, to 27 days in the building trades.

The figure for average numbers involved, and still more that for the average duration, give an exaggerated idea of what may be called the “normal” magnitude and duration of a strike. It is the great strikes, involving many thousands of workpeople, that are commonly also the hardest fought and the most prolonged. Great

masses of workers are not mobilized for industrial conflict except for some object which they regard as of first-class importance; and it is exceptional for a strike or lock-out of this magnitude to occur unless all means of reaching a pacific settlement have been exhausted, and unless both employers and workpeople are organized in strong combinations, with great financial resources. All these factors tend to prolong precisely those strikes—in reality a small minority—which involve large numbers of workpeople, and thus exaggerate enormously the figure for “aggregate duration.” For example, nearly 40% of the aggregate duration of disputes in the building trades was due to the great dispute in the London building trade in 1914, which lasted for more than six months and accounted for about 2,500,000 working days. In the mining and quarrying industry, two-thirds of the total aggregate duration of all the disputes was due to the two great coal strikes of 1912 and of 1920; if these were eliminated, the average number involved in disputes in this group of trades would be reduced from over 3,000 to 1,800, and the average duration from 14 to 8 days. The case is much the same with the other great groups of trades; and, speaking broadly, it may be said that the vast majority of recorded disputes involve comparatively small numbers of workpeople, and last less than a fortnight often indeed, only a few days.

To put the same thing in another way. The number of disputes which had an aggregate duration of 25,000 days and upwards varied, in the period 1904-13, from 11 (in 1904) to 72 (in 1913), with an average of 32, or 5% of the total number of disputes. Yet this 5% of disputes accounted for 65% of the number of workpeople involved, and for no less than 86% of the aggregate duration.

Or again, the number of disputes in which 2,500 workpeople or upwards were involved varied, in the years 1904-13, from a minimum of 4 (in 1905 and in 1907) to a maximum of 43 (in 1913), with an average of 18, or less than 3% of the total number of disputes; but this 3% of disputes accounted for 67% of the total number of workpeople involved, and for 74% of the aggregate duration.

Some trades are far more subject to industrial disturbance than others; in the building trades the proportion of men who strike or are locked out rarely reaches 1% of the total number employed in the industry, and in the clothing trades the proportion is not much higher; whereas in the coal-mining industry the proportion who strike or are locked out rarely falls below 5% and frequently rises above 20% in a year.

The mean percentages of workpeople involved in disputes for the years 1904-13 were as follows:—

Building trades 0.7
Coal mining 21.4
Other mining and quarrying 2.2
Metal engineering and shipbuilding  3.3
Textile trades 6.4
Clothing trades 1.3
Other trades 1.7

All Trades 4.4

The statistics of causes show, on the whole, remarkable regularity. Such fluctuations, as there are, are due principally to the prevalence or otherwise of wage disputes. In years of good or improving trade, strikes for advances in wages are numerous; in years of bad and declining trade such strikes become much fewer.

Table 2.

Group of Trades No. of
No. of
 Duration in 
of Working

 Building 119  25  652 
 Mining and Quarrying 164  508  7,067 
 Metal Engineering and Shipbuilding  265  180  2,765 
 Textile 107  138  2,143 
 Clothing 58  19  258 
 Transport 88  150  1,230 
 Miscellaneous (including
Employees of Public
Authorities) 260  68  968 

 Average for all above Trades[1] 1,061  1,088  15,083 

The statistics of results show somewhat less regularity. The principal features of this part of the table are the diminishing proportion of disputes settled in favour of the employers, and the

increasing proportion settled by a compromise. In the first half of the period the proportion of disputes settled in favour of the workpeople was 24% on the average; settled in favour of the employers, 44%; and compromised, or partially successful, 32%. In the second half of the period the corresponding percentages were 26, 28, and 46. It should be noted that the second period includes three or four years of exceptional prosperity, a condition which tends to promote settlements in favour of the workpeople; and that this was followed by the period of the war, when prices were constantly rising and industrial conditions were altogether abnormal.

Table 3 classifies the disputes of the years 1900 to 1920, (a) according to their causes, and (b) according to their results:—

Table 3.

 Year in which 
 Disputes began 
1900  1901  1902  1903  1904  1905  1906  1907  1908  1909  1910  1911  1912  1913  1914  1915  1916  1917  1918  1919  1920   Averages 

 Proportion of Disputes
 arising on questions of

 Wages (Per cent.) 68  63  60  60  65  66  68  64  62  59  57  64  63  66  63  73  76  73  68  64  69  65 
 Hours of Labor (Per cent.) 11 
 Employment of particular
 Classes of Persons (Per cent.) 14  13  13  14  13  13  11  14  14  14  15  16  17  16  18  12  12  15  17  15  15  14 
 Other Questions (Per cent.) 17  20  22  22  18  17  18  19  21  21  24  17  17  15  16  13  11  13  10  13  17 
 Total (Per cent.) 100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100 

 Proportion of
 Disputes settled

 In favour of Workpeople (Per cent.)  31  26  24  23  17  20  32  32  20  18  25  25  27  29  25  23  22  31  29  24  24  25 
 In favour of Employers (Per cent.) 34  44  47  48  51  47  37  41  44  46  37  32  31  25  33  37  27  20  21  22  29  36 
 Compromised (Per cent.) 34  30  28  29  32  33  31  27  36  36  38  43  42  46  42  40  51  48  48  54  47  39 
 Indefinite or Unsettled (Per cent.) . .  . .  . .  . .  . .  . .  . .  . .  . .  . .  . .  . .  . .  . .  . .  . .  . .  . . 
 Total (Per cent.) 100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100  100 

II. Principal Disputes.—The year 1908 (in contrast to 1907, which was entirely free from any disputes on a great scale) saw three great disputes: (1) a shipbuilding dispute involving 35,000 workpeople, and with an aggregate duration of 1,719,000 working days; (2) an engineering dispute on the N.E. coast, involving 11,000 workpeople, and with an aggregate duration of 1,706,000 working days; and (3) a dispute in the cotton trade, involving 120,000 workpeople, and with an aggregate duration of 4,830,000 working days.

In each of these three disputes the workpeople struck against (or were locked out to enforce) a proposal to reduce wages. This was at one time a common and important cause of disputes; the great coal strike of 1893, for example, was against a reduction in wages. During 1910-20 there were few or no disputes of any importance on this ground; in fact, these three disputes in 1908 were the last important disputes arising out of an attempt to reduce wages, until the ship-joiners' dispute, which, beginning in Dec. 1920, was the precursor of a series of strikes or lock-outs culminating in the coal strike of 1921.

In each of the three disputes referred to above, one or more of the trade unions concerned was prepared, before the strike or lock-out occurred, to accept the terms offered by the employers; but in each case one or more other trade unions resisted the reduction. Modified terms offered by the employers were accepted in all three cases.

There were no important disputes in 1909; but in 1910 several prolonged disputes, involving large numbers took place.

Trouble arose in Northumberland and Durham in Jan. 1910, with regard to the working of the coal mines under the Eight Hours Act (the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1908), which came into operation, in those two counties, on Jan. 1 1910. Agreements had been reached between the two coal owners' associations and the respective miners' union in Dec. 1909, as to the working of the mines under the new arrangements; but a large number of men at the various mines repudiated the agreements, and refused to go down the pits. About 85,000 workpeople were involved in Durham, and about 30,000 in Northumberland. At most of the pits the strike was over by the end of Jan.; but a minority of men stood out, and the strike was not finally settled until April. The aggregate duration of the dispute was about 1,280,000 working days in Durham and about 1,080,000 working days in Northumberland.

Certain members of the United Society of Boilermakers and Iron and Steel Shipbuilders stopped work in Aug. 1910, in breach of an agreement with the Shipbuilding Employers' Federation, at two shipyards, one on the Tyne and the other on the Clyde; and the Employers' Federation locked out the members of the Boilermakers' Society at all the federated shipyards on Sept. 3. About 25,000 workpeople were directly or indirectly affected.

A provisional agreement made between representatives of the parties on Oct. 11 1910, was twice rejected by the workpeople on a ballot vote, and it was not until Dec. that a final agreement supplementing that of March 1909 was reached, and accepted by the workers. Work was resumed on Dec. 15. The aggregate loss of time in this dispute was about 2,850,000 working days.

A strike of coal miners and surface workers in the Rhondda Valley began on Sept. 1 1910 and continued for nearly a year, being settled in Aug. 1911. It arose out of a dispute at one pit concerning the price list for a particular seam, and was followed by sympathetic strikes at other pits belonging to the same employers. An agreement was finally reached on the price list, and on a guarantee of an average wage. About 12,800 men and boys were involved at the beginning of the strike.

The years 1911-2-3 were years of violent, and almost continuous industrial unrest. Among the most important disputes of these years were those described below.

A series of seamen's and transport workers' strikes began in June 1911. The original occasion of the first dispute was a demand put forward by the National Sailors' and Firemen's Union for the formation of a conciliation board, consisting of representatives of the Union and of the Shipping Federation, to consider a programme of reforms desired by the Union. The Federation refused to discuss the demands, and the seamen and firemen came out on strike at various dates in June 1911, many of the principal ports being affected. (London was not affected till a little later.) Strikes of dock labourers, carters, tramwaymen, and other transport workers occurred at some of these ports, partly in sympathy with the seamen, and partly in support of demands of their own for improved working conditions. Serious disorder occurred at Hull, Manchester and Salford.

Settlements were reached at various dates in July and Aug. affecting seamen and dockers at Hull and Goole; seamen and carters at Manchester; dock labourers and tramwaymen at Liverpool; and seamen and transport and other workers at Cardiff. There were also a large number of sectional settlements in the London dock, shipping, and transport trades.

The railway dispute of 1911 began with a strike of 1,000 railwaymen (goods porters, etc.) at Liverpool on Aug. 5, the men alleging their inability to get their grievances dealt with by the conciliation boards set up under the scheme of 1907. They were joined by railwaymen at Manchester and at many other centres. On Aug. 15 the executives of four of the railwaymen's trade unions sent to the various railway companies a resolution, stating that they were being pressed by their members to declare a strike, and giving the companies 24 hours to decide whether they would immediately meet representatives of the workers to discuss their grievances. The Government got into touch with representatives of the companies and of the trade unions on Aug. 16; and on the following day the Prime Minister announced that the Government was prepared to appoint immediately a Royal Commission, to investigate the working of the Railway Conciliation Agreement, and to report what amendments, if any, were desirable in the scheme. This announcement did not prevent a strike; but a provisional settlement was reached on Aug. 19, and work was generally resumed on Aug. 21 (except on one railway, where it was resumed on Aug. 23). The Royal Commission began its sittings on Aug. 23, and reported on Oct. 18. The trade unions, however, refused to accept the Commission's recommendations without various modifications; the railway companies, on their side, took the line that both sides were bound by the findings of the Commission. On Nov. 22 the House of Commons debated the question, and passed a resolution to the effect that the parties should be invited to meet with the view of discussing the best mode of giving effect to the report of the Royal Commission. The Board of Trade signified to the parties their readiness to call a fresh conference “on the understanding that the findings of the Royal Commission were accepted in principle and in substance.” The parties accepted these conditions, and a conference was held, at which an agreement was reached, the recommendations of the Royal Commission being accepted with certain alterations and additions. The effect of the new agreement was to expedite the settlement by the conciliation boards of matters in dispute, to secure greater uniformity in the decisions of the conciliation boards, and to give such decisions greater finality than they had previously possessed.

The Cotton Weavers' Association of N. and N.E. Lancashire engaged in an active campaign in this year (1911) against the employment of non-unionists. The employers replied by a general lock-out, which began on Dec. 28, about 160,000 workpeople being involved. This is exclusive of the workpeople in the spinning section of the trade, who were put on short time, or thrown out of work, owing to the stoppage of the principal outlet for their production. The chief industrial commissioner (Sir George Askwith) invited the parties to a conference, which was duly held; and an agreement was reached on Jan. 19 1912. Work was to be resumed on Jan. 22, under the old conditions of employment, on the understanding that no action should be taken for six months in the way of tendering notices or striking mills on the non-unionist question. It was also agreed that, at the end of that period, Sir George Askwith would, if requested, submit proposals for the settlement of the question.

The great coal strike of 1912 involved an aggregate loss of working time of over 30,000,000 working days in the coal mines alone. There was also, of course, much consequential unemployment and under-employment in other industries. The percentage unemployed among members of trade unions rose to 11.3% at the end of March 1912; while blast furnaces, steel sheet works, and the glass bottle industry, were brought almost to a standstill, and tinplate mills working were reduced to about 14% of the normal number.

The strike arose out of a demand by the Miners' Federation for the payment of a minimum wage for every man and boy working underground in the mines. A conference between representatives of the coal-owners and of the miners had discussed the question of the earnings of miners in “abnormal” places (i.e. in working places where, owing to the thinness of the seams, or other causes beyond their control, the hewers were unable to earn the recognized minimum or average rate for the district), and a considerable measure of agreement had been reached; but at the annual conference of the Miners' Federation at Southport on Oct. 6 1911, it was decided “to take immediate steps to secure an individual district minimum wage for all men and boys working in mines in the area of the Federation, without any reference to the working places being abnormal.”

A ballot of the members of the Federation was taken on the question of handing in notices to establish the principle of an individual minimum wage, as expressed in the resolution quoted above. There was a large majority (445,801 to 115,721) in favour of giving notice; and notices were accordingly handed in, to terminate at the end of Feb.

At a subsequent meeting the Miners' Federation fixed the minimum rates they were prepared to accept in each district for piece workers “at the face” (i.e. hewers, etc.); and also added the following general instructions to their representatives, for their guidance in any negotiations that might ensue with the mine owners:—

“No underground adult worker should receive a rate of wages less than 5s. per shift.” (This did not apply to the Forest of Dean, or to Bristol and Somerset.) “Individual minimum wages for all piece workers other than colliers to be arranged by the districts themselves, and to be as near as possible present wages.”

Day rates for underground workers, and boys' wages, were also to be left to local arrangement; the boys' wages not to be less than the then existing wages, and not in any case less than 2s. a day.

Unsuccessful negotiations took place between the coal owners and the men; and on Feb. 20 Mr. Asquith, who was at that time Prime Minister, intervened, and invited both parties to meet him and other members of the Government, separately, in conference on Feb. 22. From that date onward till March 15 the Prime Minister kept in constant touch with the parties, who finally met, in joint session, with representatives of the Government, on March 12, 13 and 14. On March 15, the Prime Minister announced that the Government had decided to ask from Parliament “a legislative declaration that a reasonable minimum wage, accompanied by adequate safeguards for the protection of the employer, should be a statutory term of the contract of employment of people who are engaged underground in coal mining.”

In accordance with this announcement the Prime Minister introduced a bill in the House of Commons on March 19 1912, which received the Royal Assent on March 29, as the “Coal Mines (Minimum Wage) Act, 1912.” The Act provided for the setting up of a joint district board in each of 22 districts specified in a schedule to the Act, to determine the minimum rates of wages for workmen employed underground in coal mines. On March 27 the coal owners met and adopted a resolution in favour of working the Act; and on the same day the men's Federation decided to take a ballot of the members on the question of resuming work, pending the settlement of minimum rates by the district boards. The ballot showed a majority (244,011 to 201,013) against resumption; but, at a national conference held on April 6, it was decided to terminate the strike.

A great strike of dock and other transport workers in the Port of London and on the Medway began on May 21 1912, and lasted over two months. The immediate occasion of the dispute was the refusal of a workman who belonged to the Amalgamated Society of Foremen Lightermen to join the Amalgamated Society of Watermen, Lightermen, and Bargemen; the latter society is affiliated to the National Transport Workers' Federation, but the former is not. The employers refused to interfere, and between 5,000 and 6,000 lightermen left work on May 21, followed later by a number of dock workers, who ceased work in sympathy.

The underlying cause of the dispute, however, was dissatisfaction with the carrying out of the various agreements that had been arrived at in settlement of the disputes in the previous year (see above). The Government ordered an enquiry to be held by Sir Edward Clarke, K.C.; and the alleged grievances of the workmen were found to come under seven heads, including:—

Employment of non-union men, in alleged breach of an agreement, by two of the employers' associations.

Refusal of an employers' association to meet the trade union to discuss rates of wages and conditions of labour.

Refusal of certain employers to pay rates of wages fixed by various awards or agreements. Alleged interference with union workmen.

The board of trade invited representatives of the employers and of the workers to a conference, to discuss Sir E. Clarke's report. The men accepted, but the employers declined to be present, and stated that they could not accept Sir E. Clarke's report as an award on the points dealt with by him. They were unable to adopt certain suggestions made by the Board of Trade for the formation of a federation of employers; and refused, “under any circumstances, to any recognition of the Union of Transport Workers' Federation ticket, or any discussion for such recognition.” Following upon debates in the House of Commons, and upon further conferences with the parties, the Government put forward various proposals on June 7; these were accepted (in substance) by the men, but refused by the employers. The Transport Workers' Federation thereupon declared a national strike of transport workers. Certain of the unions affiliated to the Federation took a ballot of their members as to the advisability of ceasing work, the result being in each case a majority against a strike; and only about 20,000 men, at Manchester and some of the minor ports, came out on strike. These all returned unconditionally after a few days' stoppage.

The places of the men on strike in London had by this time begun to be filled up by non-unionists; and the employers took a very determined attitude, refusing to agree to any conditions precedent to the men returning to work. Further negotiations were fruitless, and on July 27 the men's strike committee recommended an immediate resumption of work. By July 31 the return to work was fairly general; and by Monday, Aug. 6, practically all the men who could find work were reinstated. About 100,000 workpeople were involved in the dispute, and the aggregate duration was about 2,700,000 working days.

A strike of tube and other metal workers in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Wednesbury, and other towns in the “Black Country,” began on April 25 1913, and continued until the middle of July. As many as 50,000 workpeople were involved at the height of the dispute, and the aggregate duration was about 1,400,000 working days. The majority of the strikers were labourers or semi-skilled workers; but a large number of skilled men were thrown idle owing to the absence of the labourers. The men demanded an all-round advance of 2s. a week on day-rates, and 10% on piece-rates, with a standard minimum of 23s. a week for unskilled men; and various rates, on a scale rising with each year of age, for youths and for girls. The parties were brought together through the intervention of the chief industrial commissioner; and an agreement was signed on July 7, fixing the standard rate for adult able-bodied unskilled labourers at 23s. in the Birmingham district, and at 22s. in the Black Country district, to be raised to 23s. after six months. The rates for youths and for girls were also fixed, on a scale rising by ages. Piece-work rates were to be fixed by agreement between the several employers and their workmen, the day-rate, however, being guaranteed irrespective of piece-work earnings.

The Dublin dispute of 1913-4 was unique in British industrial history, in that it was the only dispute of importance, at least since regular records have been compiled, in which all the trades of a whole city and district were involved, including even agriculture. It was, in fact, the nearest approach to a “general” strike that had ever been known. Ever since the year 1908 there had been much industrial unrest in Dublin, frequently taking the form of the sympathetic strike. The “sympathetic” strike, in this developed and organized form, is a species of boycott, aiming at the complete dislocation of the trade of the firm or firms attacked; the withdrawal of their own employees is supplemented and reinforced by the refusal of the employees of other firms to handle their goods. The immediate occasion of the strike was an announcement by the Dublin Tramway Co. of the temporary closing of their parcels department, and of their intention, when that department was reopened, not to allow their employees in that department to belong to the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, which had been active in the policy of the sympathetic strike. A number of tramwaymen struck work on Aug. 26, demanding the reinstatement of the locked-out workpeople in the parcels department; they also put in claims for increased wages, shorter hours, and other concessions. Following this came strikes (or lock-outs) of employees of flour millers, coach builders, biscuit manufacturers, coal merchants, steamship companies, master carriers, master builders, timber importers, cement and brick merchants, and farmers in the County Dublin; besides a large number of independent firms, in a wide variety of trades. At a meeting on Sept. 3, 400 employers in Dublin passed a resolution to the effect that “the position created by the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union (a union in name only) was a menace to all trade organizations, and had become intolerable”; and pledging themselves not to employ members of that Union, or any persons refusing to carry out his employer's lawful and reasonable instructions. A large number of employers endeavoured to require their workpeople to sign an undertaking in the following terms:—

“I hereby undertake to carry out all instructions given to me by or on behalf of my employers, and, further, I agree to immediately resign my membership of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union (if a member), and I further undertake that I will not join or in any way support this Union.”

On Sept. 26 it was announced that a Court of Enquiry had been appointed, consisting of Sir George Askwith, Sir Thomas Ratcliffe Ellis, and Mr. J. R. Clynes, to inquire into the dispute, and to take such steps as might seem desirable with the view of arriving at a settlement. The Court of Enquiry heard evidence at Dublin on Sept. 29 and on Oct. 1-4, and issued their report on Oct. 6. The report (1) regretted that no steps had been taken to set up Conciliation Boards, as had been several times suggested; (2) reported that there were indications that substantial grievances existed in the various industries; (3) condemned the policy of the sympathetic strike; “no community,” it declared, “could exist if resort to the sympathetic strike became the general policy of Trade Unionism”; and (4) condemned the undertaking which the employers had endeavoured to impose on the workpeople, as contrary to individual liberty, and such as no workman or body of workmen could reasonably be expected to accept. The report also made proposals for the settlement of the dispute, based on the establishment of a series of conciliation committees. These proposals were accepted by the workers but rejected by the employers, who declared that they could not recognize the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, until it was reorganized on proper lines, with new officials approved by the British Joint Labour Board.

Various other efforts were made to settle the dispute, notably by the Joint Board (the “British Joint Labour Board,” already referred to). This was a composite body representing the parliamentary committee of the Trades Union Congress, the Executive Committee of the General Federation of Trade Unions, and the Executive of the Labour party. These overtures came very near to success, the parties being brought together in joint conference; but the negotiations broke down, on Dec. 20 1913, on the question of reinstatement. All this time the employers had been gradually replacing the men on strike or locked out; and a few of the men who had struck (or been locked out) had returned to work. During Jan. and the early part of Feb., the majority of the remaining strikers whose places were still open returned to work, most of them agreeing to handle all goods and to obey orders. In some cases the men also undertook not to belong to the Transport Union.

The principal dispute of 1914 was in the London building trade. Numerous strikes had occurred against the employment of non-unionists, although most of the trade unions were bound by agreements which contained (inter alia) a stipulation that there should be no discrimination between union and non-union labour. At a conference with eight of these trade unions, held on Dec. 23 1913, the employers put forward certain proposals for enforcing these agreements by means of penalties; these proposals were rejected by the trade unions, and on Jan. 7 1914, the London Master Builders' association gave notice that they regarded the working-rule agreements as no longer in force. The employers next endeavoured to impose on the workpeople an individual undertaking to work peacefully with non-unionists, on pain of a penalty of twenty shillings. Most of the men refused to sign the undertaking, and the strike began on Jan. 26 1914. Various efforts were made to settle the dispute; but proposals which had been agreed to by the men's representatives were twice rejected by the trade unions on a ballot vote. One of the smaller unions, however, accepted the terms at the second vote, and came to a sectional agreement; and sectional agreements were afterwards made with two other trades. At this point the National Federation of Building Trade Employers resolved on a lock-out of all their employees throughout the country, if the dispute were not settled by Aug. 15. Before the threat could be carried out, however, the World War had begun; and a settlement was hastily reached, on the basis of the acceptance by the men of the terms last offered by the employers, with certain modifications. The chief points in the settlement were:

Employers to be at liberty to employ any man, but unions to have right of appeal against any operative who has made himself specially objectionable to his fellows. Ticket inspection granted, but not during working hours. National executives of unions to guarantee observance of rules. Six months' notice to be given for termination or modification of rules.

There was a strike of coal miners in Yorkshire, lasting from the middle of Feb. to nearly the end of April 1914, in which about 150,000 workpeople were at one time involved. The employers at certain collieries had refused to add the usual percentages to the newly established district minimum rates; and it was finally decided that a lower minimum should be fixed for certain collieries, and the percentages above standard calculated on these reduced minima.

The outbreak of the World War brought all the important current disputes to an end; and, though there were a large number of disputes in the remaining months of 1914, and indeed during the whole period of the war, most of them were quite unimportant, and were brought to a very speedy conclusion. After the passing of the first Munitions Act in 1915 many of these strikes were illegal; and, even when they were not illegal, they were sometimes unauthorized by the central executives of the respective trade unions. The fact that the dispute was illegal or unauthorized; the swift intervention of the Government, armed with emergency powers; and—perhaps more important than all these—the severe reprobation of strikes by public opinion, tended to restrict their scope and above all to shorten their duration. Hence the aggregate duration even of some of the disputes that excited most public feeling, such as the Clyde Engineering dispute of Feb. and March 1915 (about 110,000 working days) was quite trivial by comparison with the great disputes before the war.

On Feb. 4 1915, the Government appointed Sir George Askwith, Sir Francis Hepwood, and Sir George Gibb, as a “Committee on Production in Engineering and Shipbuilding Establishments,” to enquire and report as to the best means of insuring that the productive power of the employees in engineering and shipbuilding establishments for Government purposes should be made fully available. The Committee recommended (inter alia) that industrial disputes should never be allowed to result in a stoppage of work; and that disputes which could not be settled by the ordinary means should be referred to an impartial tribunal for immediate investigation and report with a view to a settlement. The Government accepted the recommendation, and appointed the Committee on Production as the tribunal indicated.

Hence in 1915, though there were over 700 disputes, there was only one with an aggregate duration of over a million days, a coal strike in South Wales, arising out of a deadlock over a wages agreement.

There was also only one large dispute in 1916, a strike of 30,000 jute workers at Dundee, which lasted from March 24 to June 8. The workpeople claimed an advance of 15% on piece-rates of wages, but ultimately returned to work on the old terms. This year was particularly free from disputes in the coal industry, which is generally the most affected by disputes.

Several unauthorized strikes, on a fairly large scale, occurred in the engineering trades in 1917. These excited a great deal of public attention, both because of the vital importance of maintenance of the fullest possible engineering output during the war, and also because the strikes were openly outbreaks of revolt, not only against the restrictions imposed on industrial freedom by various statutes and regulations, but also (what was felt to be even more serious) against the authority of the trade union executives. Measured, however, by the test of aggregate duration, only one of these disputes—the engineering strike of May 1917—was of very serious importance; and, as all the disputes had many features in common, it will suffice here to give an account of the dispute in May and of another in November.

In Nov. 1916 the Government had introduced a system of “trade cards,” under which certain trade unions, including the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, were permitted to issue cards to their own members, conferring (under specified conditions) protection from military service. The system was obviously open to abuse, and the Government decided to abolish it. Simultaneously they had before Parliament a new munitions bill, which, as originally drafted, proposed (inter alia) to make provision for “dilution” (i.e. the partial utilization of unskilled or semi-skilled labour on work hitherto confined exclusively to skilled men) on commercial engineering work. Previously “dilution” had been confined to Government work.

The immediate occasion of the strike was a trivial dispute at an engineering works at Rochdale, the owners of which had committed a technical offence against the Munitions Acts. They were prosecuted and fined; but the result of the prosecution was not known until after the strike had begun.

On April 29 1917 the honorary secretary of an unofficial body called “the Manchester Joint Engineering Shop Stewards' Committee ” sent out a letter calling upon engineers to come out on strike at the close of work on the following day against (1) dilution on private and commercial engineering work, (2) the withdrawal of the trade cards, and (3) the new munitions bill. Most of the engineering employees in Lancashire (which is the chief centre of the textile engineering trade) came out; and also in Sheffield, Derby, Southampton, and finally London. On the other hand, Glasgow, Newcastle, Cardiff, Birmingham, and Leeds, which were mainly “munition” centres, and not likely to be affected by the new policy, remained at work.

The unofficial committee who had taken charge of the strike denounced the official executives of the trade unions in violent terms. The executives, on their side, denounced the strike, and came to an agreement with the Government for the abolition of the trade card system. The Government supported the executives, declared their determination not to recognize the rebellious shop stewards, and finally arrested eight of these. Ultimately, however, the Government was obliged to receive the shop stewards' leaders; but under the guise of “the unofficial strike committee,” and accompanied by the Executive Council of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers (the principal trade union concerned). A settlement was immediately arrived at, the unofficial committee agreeing to go back to their districts and get the men back to work, and leaving the negotiations in the hands of the Executive Council of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers.

The trade card system was abolished; but later in the year the minister of Munitions announced the withdrawal of the clauses in the Munitions Bill which would have permitted dilution on private work.

The Coventry strike was also a “shop stewards” strike, Coventry being one of the centres of the Shop Stewards movement. Unrest in this town was increased by the housing conditions, which were very bad, owing to the influx of munition workers and the consequent excessive overcrowding. On Nov. 19, the toolmakers and toolsetters at one of the engineering works in Coventry adopted a “stay-in” strike, as a protest against their inadequate rates of pay (in comparison with the unskilled men whom they had to instruct), and also in support of their demand for the recognition of the shop stewards. Next day the shop stewards went in a body to interview the head of the firm; he was ready to meet them, “and not ask who they were,” but this was not enough for them; they demanded to be received as shop stewards. The employer refused, and the shop stewards called out all the workpeople. The whole of the engineering firms at Coventry were stopped within a few days, when it was estimated that 50,000 workpeople (men and women) were out. The strike was settled on Dec. 2 1917, by four members of the Government, who interviewed representatives of the employers and of the workpeople, the latter including some shop stewards. The negotiations which followed led up to an agreement between the Engineering Employers' Federation and the trade unions which for the first time recognized shop stewards, if duly elected and officially endorsed and controlled by their trade unions.

Apart from the engineering and munition trades the most important dispute of 1917 was a strike of colliery examiners (overmen, firemen, and shot-firers) in South Wales for the recognition of their trade union; the other underground and surface workers, to the number of nearly 128,000, were thrown idle by the strike. After a stoppage of three days the Colliery Examiners' Trade Union was recognized, and the employers agreed to set up a joint board to decide questions relating to firemen and shot-firers.

Industrial disputes were very numerous in 1918, but the great majority involved small numbers and were of short duration. Nearly all the considerable disputes occurred in the second half of the year; the extreme seriousness of the military situation in the first half of the year exercised a restraining influence sufficient to prevent many large movements. The only strike of any magnitude in this period was one among coal miners in the employment of a “combine” in S. Wales, who sought for recognition of a committee of their own, confined to workers in the pits of the combine.

An engineering and munition strike occurred at Coventry and Birmingham in July 1918, against the introduction of what was known as the “embargo.” This was a prohibition by the Government of the engagement of any additional skilled men by certain firms. The prohibition applied only to a very small number of firms, but this fact was not known to the workers; indeed the existence of the embargo at all was not generally known until a notice (in misleading terms) was issued by one of the firms affected. The strike was brought to an end, after a week's stoppage, by the Government announcing that men absent from work on July 29 would have their protection certificates withdrawn.

Two strikes in the cotton trade occurred in this year, one in Sept. and the other in December. The first arose from a demand of the cotton spinners and piecers for unemployment pay for time lost owing to the restrictions on the working of the mills imposed by the Cotton Control Board to meet the shortage of raw material. They returned to work after a week's stoppage on the promise of an enquiry by an independent tribunal, to be appointed by the Government. The second strike was in support of a demand by the cotton spinners and piecers, and the card-room workers, for an advance of 40% on the current rates of wages (i.e. on the list prices, plus all the percentage additions already made thereto). They returned after nine days' stoppage, having obtained an advance of 50% on the standard piece-price list of wages, equivalent to about 30% on the current rates.

In this year there was also a long dispute (lasting 47 working days) between a coöperative society and the Amalgamated Union of Coöperative Employees. This union seeks to organize all classes of employees of coöperative societies, whether distributive or productive, without regard to occupation, or “craft.” The coöperative society, however, demanded that its employees in printing works should belong to one or other of the “craft” unions, and not to the Amalgamated Union of Coöperative Employees. The matter was ultimately referred to arbitration, and decided in favour of the society.

The years 1919 and 1920 were years of great industrial unrest in a variety of trades. The hours of labour in the engineering and shipbuilding trades were reduced, as from Jan. 1 1919, from 53 or 54 to 47 per week; but many of the workers were dissatisfied, some desiring a reduction to 44 or even 40 hours, while others were aggrieved because the rates paid to piece workers and to “lieu” workers were not increased to compensate for the reduction of hours. (Time workers received the same rate of pay for the reduced hours as for the hours previously worked.) Workpeople, to the number of 150,000 in all, came out on strike in Jan. at various centres, and remained out for periods ranging from one to eight weeks. Some returned to work unconditionally; others agreed to return on the promise of a national settlement.

There was much unrest in the coal mining industry. One hundred and fifty thousand miners were on strike in Yorkshire in Jan. 1919, in support of a demand for a simultaneous stoppage of 20 minutes per shift for meals for surface workers; most of these were out for one or two days only. The demand was granted, for the period of Government control. The same men were on strike again in July and Aug., for an advance of 14.3% in piece-rates to compensate for the reduction in hours from eight to seven per day; after a stoppage of from 25 to 29 days they accepted the national settlement, which gave an advance of 12.2%. In March 100,000 miners in South Wales, the Midlands, and Yorkshire were on strike, and another 75,000 miners in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire, and other districts were on strike in July, over the question of the miners' demands for increased wages, a reduction of hours, and the nationalization of the mines.

There was a great strike in the cotton trade, for a reduction of hours and 30% advance in wages, in June and July 1919, both the spinning and the weaving sections being affected. The advance was granted, and the hours were reduced from 55½ to 48 hours per week (instead of 46½, as asked).

The greatest railway strike that had ever occurred in England began at midnight on Sept. 26 1919. An agreement had been made between the Government, the Railway Executive Committee (representing the companies), and the trade unions in March 1919, providing, inter alia, for the determination by negotiation of new standard rates of pay for the various grades. Standard rates were agreed upon, in Aug., for drivers and motormen, firemen and assistant motormen, and engine cleaners; and in Sept. the Board of Trade forwarded to the National Union of Railwaymen their proposals for the standard rates of other grades, showing an average advance of 100% on pre-war rates, with a minimum of £2 a week. The Union rejected these proposals, claiming that the new rate should be based on the highest standard rate already existing for each grade, plus 33s. war wage, with a minimum of £3 a week. Failing a favourable reply by Sept. 25, they announced an immediate strike. Negotiations continued, and fresh proposals were made by the Government; but the Union did not feel justified in postponing the strike, which accordingly began, as stated, at midnight on Sept. 26. The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, although not directly concerned in the dispute, supported the National Union of Railwaymen, and its members also ceased work.

On Oct. 1 a conference, arranged by the National Transport Workers' Federation (to which the railwaymen are affiliated), was attended by representatives of the Trades Union Congress Parliamentary committee, of the Labour party, and of a number of other trades besides railways. A mediating committee was appointed, and negotiations were resumed between the Government, the mediating committee, and the National Union of Railwaymen. A settlement was reached on Oct. 5, and work was resumed on the following morning.

The settlement provided for the resumption of negotiations, with the understanding that they should be completed by Dec. 31 1919; and for the stabilization of wages at their then existing level up to Sept. 30 1920 (subject to review at any time after Aug. 1 1920). It was also provided that “no adult railwayman in Great Britain shall receive less than 51s. so long as the cost of living is not less than 110% above pre-war level.”

A strike of ironmoulders, core-makers, and iron and steel dressers began on Sept. 22 1919, and lasted until Jan. 12 1920. About 65,000 men were involved in the immediate dispute; but the shortage of castings consequent on the dispute greatly hindered the working of the engineering industry for many months.

The demands of the men were for an advance in wages of 15s. a week for journeymen and 7s. 6d. a week for apprentices. At the settlement on Jan. 12 they accepted an advance of 5s. for men over 18 years of age, the same as had been granted to men in the engineering trades in the previous November. It was also agreed that negotiations should be resumed on the questions of: (1) the general working conditions in foundries; (2) questions arising out of the introduction of the 47-hour week; (3) minimum standard rates for the various districts; and (4) the jurisdiction of the unions over apprentices, and the wages of apprentices.

A strike of all classes of workpeople in the furnishing trades began in the Manchester district and N. E. Lancashire on June 27 1919, in support of a demand for an advance in wages, a working week of 44 hours, and other concessions. On July 26 a lock-out was declared at High Wycombe, Birmingham, Nottingham, Bristol and other centres, to enforce the termination of the dispute. At most of the centres involved in the lock-out settlements were reached by the end of Oct., advances in wages being granted; in some cases provision was made for the discussion of proposals to introduce sectional work, piece-work, or female labour, where not formerly in operation. The original dispute was also settled at the end of Oct., various advances being granted. At High Wycombe, where the largest number of workpeople was involved, the lock-out was not brought to a close until nearly the end of Nov.; here also advances in wages, varying according to sex and standing and the class of work done, were granted.

The year 1920 was remarkable for one dispute, the national coal strike of Oct. and Nov., the aggregate duration of which was second only to those of the two previous great coal strikes in 1893, and in 1912; and for an unprecedented number of smaller disputes, in a great variety of trades, many of which would have ranked as “great” disputes in a normal year. There were also many minor disputes in the building and in the textile trades. The coal strike began out of a demand put forward by the Miners' Federation of Great Britain (1) for a flat-rate advance in wages of 2s. a shift for all persons of the age of 18 years or over, with corresponding advances for those under that age; and (2) for a reduction of 14s. 2d. a ton in the price of domestic coal. These demands were presented to the Controller of Coal Mines on July 15, and refused by the Government on July 26. A ballot of the Federation showed a great majority (606,782 to 238,865) in favour of a strike in support of these demands; and strike notices were handed in, in every district, to expire on Sept. 25.

Negotiations between the Government and the miners continued, in the course of which the miners dropped their demand for a reduction in the price of domestic coal. The Government, after making various alternative proposals which were not acceptable to the miners, concentrated on the policy of making any advance that might be granted bear some relation to increased output. The miners, however, still pressed for an immediate unconditional advance of 2s. The strike notices were twice postponed, at first for a week and then for another fortnight, in order to allow the negotiations to continue. At this stage the mine-owners were called into conference; and meetings between representatives of the miners and of the mine-owners took place almost daily from Sept. 25 to Oct. 2, inclusive.

During the first fortnight of Oct. a second ballot of the miners took place on certain proposals which had been formulated by the mine-owners at these conferences. These were to the effect that if, during the first fortnight of Oct. there were indications that the output of coal was at the rate of 240,000,000 tons per annum, an advance of 1s. a shift should be conceded as from Oct. 1, with an additional 6d. for each 4,000,000 tons, up to 3s. at 265,000,000 tons. The wages for the remainder of the year would be similarly regulated, and the whole scheme would come up for review at the end of December. The owners also pledged themselves to coöperate with the men in measures for increasing output. These proposals were rejected by the men, on a ballot vote, by a still larger majority (635,098 to 181,428); and work at the mines ceased on Oct. 16, except that certain men were allowed to continue at work for keeping the mines in order.

The strike was debated in the House of Commons on Oct. 19; and tentative suggestions for a settlement were made by Mr. Brace (at that time a member of the executive of the South Wales Miners' Federation), and by other members. Informal conversations, and then formal negotiations, followed between the Government and the miners' representatives, to which at a later stage the mine-owners also were called in; and an agreement was reached on Oct. 28 which the miners' representatives undertook to submit to their members, with a recommendation of acceptance “as a temporary measure.” The agreement pledged the miners and the mine-owners to coöperate with the view of increasing output; also to prepare a scheme for the future regulation of wages, “having regard, among other considerations, to the profits of the industry, and to the principles upon which any surplus profits are to be dealt with.” Pending the preparation of this scheme an immediate advance of 2s. a shift was to be granted to persons of 18 years of age and over, with corresponding advances to persons under that age; and from Jan. 3 1921, until the new scheme was ready, the advance would be automatically adjusted, at monthly intervals, in accordance with the surplus output in excess of 219,000,000 tons a year. The ballot upon these terms showed a small majority against acceptance (346,504 to 338,045), on a reduced total vote; but at the miners' delegate conference at which the result was announced it was decided that work should be resumed on Nov. 4, or as soon after as possible, in view of the rule of the Miners' Federation which requires a two-thirds majority for the continuance of a strike.

A strike in the building trade of Scotland occurred in May, June, and July 1920. During the war wages in the Scottish building trade had been regulated by awards given every four months, as in the engineering and shipbuilding trades. A claim for an advance of 6d. an hour, as from April 1 1920, came before the. Industrial Court in March under this agreement, and was refused. The joiners in the west of Scotland, influenced by the high rate of wages given to joiners in the shipyards, had withdrawn from the National Agreement, and claimed the advance of 6d. independently of the other building trades operatives; and, when this award was given, they came out on strike, to the number of about ten thousand. Negotiations with the employers ensued; and at the beginning of July about a third of the operative joiners had obtained their demand for a rate of 2s. 6d. an hour. Bricklayers and masons and their labourers had also obtained an advance in the west of Scotland; but at Edinburgh and Dundee, and in Ayrshire, they were out on strike. As delay to housing schemes was feared through the strike, further conferences were held under the chairmanship of an officer of the Ministry of Labour; and an agreement was reached on July 8 giving all classes of operatives an advance for the period from July 9 to Nov. 30. The parties also agreed to meet again, to consider a scheme for levelling up rates between sections, and for the grading of districts.

Shipyards joiners and carpenters came out on strike on Dec. 1 1920, against a proposed reduction in wages of 12s. a week. (This was the first strike, on a considerable scale, against a reduction of wages since those of 1908, mentioned above.) The employers alleged that the ship-joiners had received a special additional bonus during the preceding time of pressure in the shipyards, over and above that given to other shipyard workers, because it would have been impossible otherwise to obtain the necessary labour, in view of the intense competition from the building trades; and that the exceptional circumstances which had justified the advance had now come to an end. The number involved at the end of Dec. was about ten thousand.

A strike of piano workers in London, to the number of about 6,500, began on April 10 and lasted for three months. The employers sought to introduce a system of payment by results, which was objected to by the workers. Work was resumed on the systems of payment existing in each factory; with a provision that a ballot vote should be taken within three months to determine the future system of payment for the entire trade.

A strike of electricians, which was of great importance owing to the principle involved, began on July 2 and ended on Sept. 16 1920. The members of the Electrical Trades Union came out on strike at an engineering works at Penistone (Yorks), against the employment of a foreman who was not a member of their trade union. The Engineering Employers' Federation replied by a lock-out of all members of the union employed in federated firms throughout the country. The Government appointed a Court of Enquiry, under the Industrial Courts Act, to enquire into the dispute; but the day after the Court had begun taking evidence the Electrical Trades Union notified to the Joint Industrial Council for the Electricity Supply Industry their readiness to withdraw the question of principle, i.e. the claim that foremen must be members of a trade union. The dispute was settled on these lines on Sept. 16, the men withdrawing their strike notices and the employers the lock-out notices. The number of men involved by the lock-out was about seven thousand.

A strike of shirt and collar makers in Belfast, Londonderry, Coleraine, Dublin, and other towns, began on June 12 1920, and lasted for over two months. The cutters only were directly involved, to the number of about 302; but about 17,000 other workpeople were thrown out of work. The cutters demanded higher wages, and the strike was settled by a compromise.

A strike in the spinning branch of the cotton trade began at Oldham on Sept. 15 1920. During the war an agreement had been made for the employment of female “creelers” (who carry away the finished yarn) to help the spinners in cases where “little piecers” (boy assistants) were not available; and it was part of the agreement that the spinners should receive extra payments, in compensation for the additional work thrown upon them when “creelers” were employed instead of “little piecers.” In Sept. 1920, an agreement was signed between the master spinners and the Operative Spinners' Trade Union withdrawing, in part, these extra payments. A large number of the spinners came out on strike against this agreement, in defiance of the executive of their union. The strike began on Sept. 15, and the maximum number on strike was reached a week later, when the number was about 20,000; and about an equal number of cardroom workers and others were thrown out of work by the dispute. The men gradually went back to work on the terms of the agreement; most of them were back by Oct. 5, but the strike was not quite at an end until the end of that month.

Coal Strike of 1921. The first seven months of 1921 were notable for a rapid and continuous increase in the number of trade disputes concerning proposals for reduction of wages. The strike of shipyard joiners and carpenters against a proposed reduction of 12s. per week, which had begun on Dec. 1 1920, and came to involve directly some 10,000 workpeople, continued until Aug. 1921, when a settlement was reached on the basis of a reduction of 9s. per week, to take effect in two stages. Among other important disputes in this period was the strike in Feb. 1921 of some 5,000 nut and bolt workers in the Black Country against a proposed wage reduction, which lasted five weeks, the employers' terms being then accepted. In March 3,500 vehicle builders and 2,170 waterproof garment finishers came out on strike against proposed reductions of wages; the former dispute lasted four weeks and ended in the acceptance of a modified reduction; the latter lasted five weeks and ended in the acceptance of the reduction on condition that it should take effect in two stages. In June a national engineering strike was threatened but avoided at the last hour, while 10,000 engineering apprentices in the Manchester district struck against a proposed reduction in wages, which three weeks later was accepted. In June, also, a new wages agreement in the cotton textile industry, involving an immediate reduction of about 19% on actual wage rates, was only made after a dispute which lasted three weeks and involved some 375,000 operatives.

None of the strikes of 1921 against proposed reductions in wages compares, however, in magnitude or consequence with the great national coal strike, which began on April 1 and ended on July 1 in an agreement which was to last until Sept. 30 1922, and thereafter, until terminated by three months' notice on either side. The position at the end of the coal strike of 1920 has already been described. Briefly a temporary settlement has been made under which the wages of miners varied according to the total output of coal from the mines of Great Britain: the more the output, the higher were the wages to be received. The miners and owners were under an obligation to prepare a scheme not later than March 31 1921, for the future regulation of wages in the industry, “having regard, among other considerations, to the profits of the industry and to the principles upon which any surplus profits are to be dealt with.” The industry was still under Government control, and the “control” powers of the Mines Department of the board of trade did not expire, in any event, until Aug. 31 1921.

The coal industry, however, did not escape the effects of the general industrial depression, which indeed may be dated from the coal strike of 1920. The values of exported coal fell heavily, while the demand for coal for industrial or domestic consumption at home also decreased. The output figures for each of the four months from Dec. 1920 reflect the changes in the current demand. In the five weeks ended Dec. 25 the output for Great Britain was 25,406,700 tons; while in the five weeks ended Jan. 29 1921, it was 21,803,600 tons. In the four weeks ended Jan. 29 it was 18,540,500 tons; while in the four weeks ended Feb. 26 it was 17,369,100 tons, and in the four weeks ended March 26, 16,435,200 tons. An incidental result of this decreased output was the disappearance as from Feb. 28 of the wages advances granted under the settlement of Nov. 1920. In so far as the position, as affected both by the decreased output and by the reduction in values of export coal, may be judged from the Mines Department statistics, in Feb. 1921 the average loss over the whole of the collieries of Great Britain on every ton of coal disposed of commercially was 5s. 11¾d. In two districts, namely Yorkshire, and Derby, Nottingham and Leicester, there were small credits of 3½d. and 1½d. per ton respectively; while the debit balances ranged from 4s. 0½d. per ton in Durham to 18s. 1½d. per ton in South Wales.

In these circumstances the Government decided to terminate their control of the mining industry on March 31. This was the date at which the agreed scheme for the future regulation of wages in the industry was to be ready, but it was five months earlier than the date at which decontrol had been expected. On the one hand, the fall in the price of export coal to such an extent that there was no appreciable difference between the export price and the inland price, made it no longer necessary to regulate the pit head prices and the distribution of coal, and all such regulation was withdrawn as from March 1. On the other hand, the continuance of financial control, which had been a corollary of the regulation of prices and distribution was only involving the Government in heavy financial liabilities. The Coal Mines (Decontrol) Act, 1921, “an act to curtail the duration of and amend the Coal Mines (Emergency) Act, 1920,” was therefore passed. The Act received Royal Assent on March 24, and its effect was to terminate the special interest the Government had hitherto had in the Mining Industry, as regards, for example, output and prices, wages and profits. Control at that moment meant financial assistance to the industry, and the removal of that financial assistance on March 31 made the formulation of a new wages agreement a matter of imperative urgency, if the work of the mines was to be continued after decontrol.

The decision of the Government to decontrol was communicated by the president of the board of trade to the mine-owners and miners, i.e. the Mining Association and the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, on Feb. 23. At the time the announcement was made, the Mining Association and the Miners' Federation were in the midst of negotiations with regard to the permanent scheme for the regulation of wages, which under the agreement of Nov. 1920, they were to complete by March 31 1921. On Feb. 25 the two bodies met again, and agreement was reached upon a considerable number of important points. But on one fundamental issue it was found impossible to agree. The representatives of the Miners' Federation insisted upon the necessity of a national wages scheme, with some form of a national pool, for the industry. The representatives of the owners insisted that wages must be based upon the wage-paying capacity of the districts, national discussion being confined to the enunciation of certain general principles which might provide the districts with some uniform method of determining their wage-paying capacity.

A definite conflict of principle had thus occurred. It was clear however that no scheme designed to be permanent would be applicable without modification to the abnormal position in which the industry would find itself on decontrol on April 1. It was therefore conceivable that agreement might be reached on a temporary scheme applicable strictly to the emergency period, leaving the points of difference on the permanent scheme for further discussion. In this way the occurrence of a dispute immediately upon the cessation of control might be avoided. Following upon a joint meeting of the two sides held on March 17, the National Delegate Conference of the Miners' Federation decided to ascertain the opinion of the districts as to whether or not they were prepared to abandon temporarily the policy of a national wages board and a national pool, and to empower the national executive to proceed with the negotiations with a view to establishing a temporary agreement on a district basis. On March 24 the Conference reassembled to receive the replies of the several districts, and these indicated that a very large majority of the Federation were against the proposal to enter into any temporary agreement on a district basis. There was thus no movement towards the owners' position. Notices terminating on March 31 contracts of employment at the existing rates having already been issued by the owners, the Executive Committee of the Miners' Federation met on March 30, and sent out the following instruction to the districts:—“That all notices must take effect regardless of occupation in every mine and plant in the Miners' Federation.” Practically the whole of the men ceased work in accordance with this instruction at the close of the last shift on March 31. There was, however, some divergence in the districts on the question of withdrawing the pumpmen and enginemen who were covered by the official instruction of the Federation. These men were not withdrawn in all cases.

At this stage it may be noted that there were some points of agreement between the owners and miners. The agreement of Nov. 1920, envisaged a permanent scheme for the regulation of wages which would have regard “to the profits of the industry and to the principles upon which any surplus profits are to be dealt with.” Working from this basis, by the time of the joint meeting of Feb. 25, four further principles had been agreed upon as follows:—

1. Wages must conform to the capacity of the industry to pay.

2. The receipt of a standard wage should justify a corresponding minimum profit to the colliery undertakings.

3. Any surplus remaining after these, and, of course, the usual working costs, had been met, should be divided between the men and the owners in agreed proportions, the workpeople's share to be an addition to their standard wages.

4. Joint audits of the owners' books by accountants representing each side should be made to ascertain all the data necessary for the periodical determination of wages.

On all other matters arising out of the proposed permanent scheme there were differences of considerable importance between the two sides. The following account of the main differences is based upon the draft agreement approved by the Delegate Conference of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain on March 10 (i.e. at the first available opportunity after the joint meeting of Feb. 25), and the report of the mine owners on the situation which was submitted after approval by the Central Council of the Mining Association, to the president of the board of trade on March 25 (i.e. immediately after the refusal of the miners to enter upon negotiations with a view to a temporary settlement on a district basis):—

1. The miners proposed that there should be established a National Board, consisting of 16 representatives of each side, which should determine all questions of wages and profits affecting the mining industry as a whole, i.e. the national regulation and distribution of wages. The National Board would take over the powers and duties of the existing district conciliation boards with regard to the fixing of general rates of wages. The owners would agree to maintain in production by the means of a national profits fund all existing collieries, and all collieries developed subsequently, until such times as the National Board might decide to the contrary.

On these points, the owners' position was that the idea of a “national profits fund” was abhorrent to them, that they wished district conciliation boards to be the sole authorities for fixing wages, and that national discussions should only deal with questions of principle, so as to provide the districts with a uniform method of determining wages.

2. The miners proposed that the new standard wage should be made up by incorporating all the existing percentage additions to district basis rates with those district basis rates, special allowance being made in favour of the men who were benefitting under the flat rate minimum advance which was guaranteed with the 20% wages advances of March 1920. The owners proposed that the new standard wages should be the district basis rates, plus the percentage additions prevailing in July 1914, plus the percentage additions made consequent upon the reduction in hours from 8 to 7.

3. The miners proposed that against their standard wages should be set, as minimum profits to the owners, a sum amounting in the aggregate to 10% of the sum paid as standard wages. The owners proposed that this figure should be 17%.

4. The miners proposed that any surplus remaining after meeting standard wages, other costs and minimum profits, should be divided between miners and owners in the proportion of 100 to 10. The owners proposed that that proportion should be 80 to 20.

5. The miners proposed that their share of this surplus should be distributed by means of national uniform flat rate additions to their standard wages. The owners proposed that the miners' share of the surplus as ascertained in each district should be distributed as a percentage addition to the standard district rates.

6. Whereas the miners' proposals meant that the whole mining industry in Great Britain should be treated as one unit within which wages would be varied uniformly, the owners proposed to take as the units of uniform variation, the 25 districts among which the collieries of Great Britain are distributed by the Second Schedule of the Mining Industry Act, 1920.

With regard to the question what modifications, if any, might be introduced to meet the abnormal conditions of the period following immediately on control, the owners expressed their willingness to waive their share of the surplus in favour of the workmen, on condition that ascertainment of the proceeds of the industry in each unit should be made at monthly periods during the continuance of the concession; but they insisted that it was inevitable that wages should go down on decontrol. From the miners' point of view it was evident that the introduction of their scheme at that moment might mean the loss to the men of war wage and Sankey wage, and the miners' argument therefore was that the Government's obligation to pay war wage or Sankey award did not cease by the decision to decontrol the trade on March 31. The war wage had been given to meet the increased cost of living when the latter was only 80 per cent in excess of the pre-war figure, and (though the Government rejected this interpretation) under the terms of the award the miners claimed that the wage was liable to revision only when the cost of living fell again to that point. With regard to the Sankey wage, the argument of the miners was that the Government had accepted the Sankey Commission's recommendations for an advance in wages of 2s. per day, and if the Government now proposed that these conditions should be abandoned, it would be guilty of a breach of faith. The miners reiterated at all times from Feb. 23 to March 31 their demand that the Government should abandon its decision to decontrol the industry, or at least should continue to subsidize it during the existence of the depression from which it was suffering.

The general argument of the miners at this time was that the situation demanded a full national settlement of the wages and profits problem for the industry. The trade as a whole needed uniform peace and security, and district or local negotiations must result in strife. The workmen and their families had to live in the poor districts as well as in the rich, and for uniform expenditure of energy there should be uniform reward. This had been recognized by the Government, first by the payment of uniform war wages to meet the increased cost of living, and, secondly, by the acceptance of the decision of the Sankey Commission to raise uniformly the wages of all coal miners to meet the agreed case for a uniform advance in their standard of living. A National Wages Board, exercising the right to distribute nationally both wages and profits, need not necessarily result in a uniform profit for all undertakings, but by means of a small levy upon the total tonnage raised in every mine, money would be made available for maintaining poor collieries in production as long as their coal was in demand.

The view of the owners, on the other hand, was that the wide variations in the losses of different coalfields made anything in the nature of a national settlement of wages impossible. While there were such divergencies between district and district, each district must determine its own wages by its ability to pay, and the individual who could not pay the wages so determined must decide for himself whether to close his pits or to bear the loss. he country could not afford to keep unprofitable pits working.

From the opening of the strike on April 1, four whole months passed before an agreement between the owners and miners was cached. The first difficulty to secure a resumption of negotiations encountered was in the Government insisting that the first subject to be discussed should be the return of the safety men to the mines, while the miners held that negotiations were useless if their demands for a wages settlement along national lines, and a national profits' pool, were totally unacceptable. But the influence of the other members of the Triple Alliance secured a modification of both points of view, and joint negotiations were resumed on April 11 and 12. On April 12 the view of the Government was outlined that, while the miners' demand for a national settlement of wages might be practicable, their demand for a national pool of profits was impracticable. A pooling arrangement for the equalization of wages in the industry was declared not to be possible without the resumption of complete and permanent control by the State of the mining industry. A national settlement of wages, however, was suggested, by which the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th points at issue between the owners and miners as outlined above should be determined by the joint conference, whilst subsequent differences of interpretation should be referred to a national joint committee of owners and miners. The prime minister explained the Government's proposals as regards the abnormal period following upon decontrol, as follows:—

“If and when an arrangement had been arrived at between the coal owners and the miners as to the rate of wages to be paid in the industry, fixed upon an economic basis, the Government would be willing to give assistance, either by loan or otherwise, during a short period, in order to mitigate the rapid reduction in wages in the districts most severely affected.”

These proposals were fully discussed, but the miners' officials intimated their inability to accept them or to abandon their former position, and the conference thereupon ended. This failure at once brought to a head the question whether the other two members of the Triple Alliance, namely, the National Union of Railwaymen[2] and the National Transport Workers' Federation, would take sympathetic strike action in support of the miners. A general meeting of the National Union of Railwaymen, and a full conference of the executives of unions affiliated to the National Transport Workers' Federation, were summoned, and remained in session until April 16, when the question of sympathetic action was finally settled. The mediatory efforts of the railwaymen and transport workers on April 9, which secured the resumption of negotiations between owners and miners, had been supported by a decision that a sympathetic strike should take place on the night of April 12 unless negotiations between the miners, owners and Government were reopened before that date. This strike of April 12 was avoided by the resumption of negotiations on the 11th, but on the 13th, the day after the failure of the resumed negotiations, the railwaymen and transport workers determined to strike at 10 P.M. on April 15 in support of the miners. This sympathetic strike of April 15 was avoided, however, at the last moment. In the late evening of the 14th a group of private members of the House of Commons, after hearing a statement by Mr. Evan Williams, president of the Mining Association, dealing with the effect on the miners' actual earnings of the owners' proposals, invited Mr. Frank Hodges, the secretary of the Miners' Federation, to make a similar statement on behalf of the miners. In the discussion which followed his speech, it was understood from Mr. Hodges that the miners would be prepared to discuss a temporary wages settlement, provided that a period of time were fixed for the negotiation of a permanent settlement, to contain the principles of a national pool and a national wages board. The Prime Minister was at once communicated with, and on the following morning he invited owners and miners to meet him again for a further consideration of the wages question. The executive of the Miners' Federation, to general surprise, abruptly declined this invitation, and Mr. Hodges, whose “offer” was thus ignored, tendered his resignation (though it was afterwards withdrawn). The leaders of the railwaymen and transport workers, however, in these circumstances decided not to proceed with the sympathetic strike, and a breach was created in the Triple Alliance.

The next stage in the history of the dispute was a second series of joint negotiations between owners and miners, from April 22 to 28, as a result of a further invitation from the Prime Minister. This conference produced a further set of proposals from the owners, and the first detailed proposals for a settlement made by the Government in the course of the dispute, but these were rejected on the 28th by the National Delegate Conference, on the ground that they did not concede “the fundamental principles of a National Wages Board and a National Pool.” No definite progress had been made as regards the proposed establishment of a permanent scheme for the regulation of wages in the industry. The Government suggested that the period of the permanent scheme should be one year from the close of the temporary period, subject thereafter to 3 months' notice on either side. This suggestion became part of the final settlement of July i. They declared that a national pool or levy would involve legislation and must be regarded as a political issue; but they would accept a “National Wages Board” entrusted with the tasks of drawing up a schedule of districts and determining the principles by which wages should be adjusted in the districts, as well as with the duties of interpretation. The owners also spoke at this time of “areas” rather than “districts,” the “areas” being the six divisions of Great Britain, among which the 25 districts are distributed by the Second Schedule of the Mining Industry Act, 1920. On the other hand, as a result of the statements of the owners and the Government, substantial progress was made with the preparation of a detailed temporary scheme for the emergency or abnormal period. The main points of these proposals may be summarized as follows:—

1. The duration of the temporary scheme was to be three months.

2. In each of the three months, a maximum sum per shift should be fixed, and the wages of no miner should be reduced by more than that maximum sum. The maximum reduction would be expressed as a national flat rate.

3. For the first month a maximum reduction of 3s. per shift was proposed and for the second month, one of 3s. 6d.

4. The Government were prepared to make a grant of £10,000,000 as their share in the cost of the scheme, and it was suggested that a portion of this grant might be carried forward into a fourth month.

5. The owners were prepared to waive all share in the surplus in any area, if the taking of that share would have the effect of reducing the rates of wages in one month as compared with the previous month. This was an elaboration of the proposal of the owners as regards the emergency period given above, and made public on March 25.

6. The owners were also prepared to agree that, during the period of the temporary scheme, deficiencies in standard profits should not be carried forward from one accounting period to another.

The miners, however, were as much opposed to this proposed temporary scheme as to the owners' permanent scheme. They could not accept a temporary settlement which was related to district settlements; they could not accept reductions which would force their wages below the cost of living level; and they maintained their demand that the Government should render financial assistance to the industry so as to prevent this occurring. On a cost of living basis they argued that the maximum reduction in the first place should be 2s. per shift: whereas the Government proposed a first reduction of 3s. per shift.

From the close of the second series of joint negotiations on April 28, a whole month elapsed before official negotiations were resumed. A third series of negotiations was then begun on May 27, an address being made by the Prime Minister to a joint assembly of the central committee of the Mining Association and the executive committee of the Miners' Federation. Proposals for a settlement were submitted by the Government separately to the two sides on May 28, and on June 3 the observations of owners and miners on these proposals were communicated to the Prime Minister. The reply of the Miners' Federation, drawn up by their executive committee, was to the effect that in every instance the districts had rejected the proposals. On June 4 the Prime Minister announced that the Government's offer of a grant of £10,000,000, intended to mitigate the reductions in wages and allow of a gradual scaling down of wages until they reached an economic level which the industry could sustain, would be withdrawn unless a settlement were reached within 14 days. This announcement was followed by joint meetings between owners and miners on June 6, 7, 8 and 9, and on June 10 the National Delegate Conference of the Miners' Federation adopted a recommendation of their executive to refer the alternative courses of action to a ballot vote of their members. The alternatives were put to the men as follows:—

“(l) Are you in favour of fighting on for the principles of the National Wages Board and National Pool, with loss of Government subsidy of £10,000,000 for wages if no settlement by June 18 1921?

“(2) Are you in favour of accepting the Government's and owners' terms as set forth on the back of this ballot paper?”

The result of the vote was known on June 17: the first question was answered in the affirmative by 433,614 members, and the second question by 180,725. The previous decisions of the representative bodies of the Federation were thus emphatically confirmed. The Government therefore announced their withdrawal of the proposed subsidy, and the basis for a temporary settlement had for the time being disappeared.

From the point of view of the final settlement, however, this third series, of negotiations was important for the modifications which were made in the owners' permanent scheme. The owners definitely adopted the Government suggestions regarding the duration of the permanent scheme and the establishment of a National Wages Board; they proposed the establishment of similarly constituted district boards to determine district questions; they accepted a proposal made by the Government that if the rates of wages as fixed under the permanent scheme did not provide a subsistence wage to low-paid day wage workers, additions in the form of allowances per shift worked should be made by the decision of the district wages boards; and they were prepared to guarantee that the miners should receive during the first year of the agreement a minimum percentage addition of 20% to the standard wage as proposed by the owners.

The final period from June 17 to July 1 was remarkable for the marked changes in the attitude of the executive of the Miners' Federation. On June 18 an invitation was issued to the executive committees of all unions affected by wages disputes to meet the miners' executive at the earliest possible date, with the object of taking joint national action with the miners to secure their several demands. The meeting was arranged for June 25. Meanwhile the annual conference of the Labour party held at Brighton on June 21-4 showed plainly that no support for extended militant action would be given by other trade unions. The projected meeting of June 25 was therefore abandoned, and the Prime Minister was again approached by the miners' executive with a view to securing a satisfactory wages settlement. Joint negotiations between miners and owners were accordingly resumed on June 27, and on the evening of that day it was reported to the Government that an agreement had been reached, upon the assumption that the Government would reopen their offer of a grant of £10,000,000 to the industry. On June 28 the Government expressed their willingness to subsidize wages as required, during the temporary period, up to a maximum of £10,000,000. The miners' executive then referred the proposed terms to their districts; and their recommendation that the terms should be accepted was indorsed at the district meetings. On July 1 the final agreement between the Miners' Federation and the Mining Association was signed, the House of Commons voting, on the same day, a subsidy in aid of wages in the form offered by the Government on June 28. Work in the coal mines throughout Great Britain was resumed as rapidly as the circumstances at each colliery permitted.

The agreement largely incorporated the terms of the interim proposals. With regard to the temporary period of three months, it was agreed that the maximum national flat-rate reductions should be 2s. per shift in the first month, 2s. 6d. in the second month, and 3s. in the third month; and that, in those districts where it was not necessary to enforce the full maximum reduction, the wages payable during the temporary period should be calculated in terms of uniform district flat-rate reductions, and not in terms of basis rates plus percentages. On the other hand, the Government subsidy was now a maximum sum, and any balance not issued in respect of the temporary period of three months was no longer available to ease any further reductions which might be necessary in the fourth month after the settlement. With regard to the permanent scheme the settlement provided that standard profits should be 17% of standard wages, and that 83% of the surplus proceeds should be applied to the payment of wages above the standard rates. The duration of the guarantee that the miners should receive a minimum percentage addition of 20% to the standard wages, was extended from one year to the whole period of the permanent scheme. In other respects the permanent scheme was the one first outlined by the owners before the beginning of the strike, but it included the important modifications and safeguards introduced in the course of the third series of joint negotiations.

The outbreak of the strike had led to the Government passing an Emergency Powers Act into law, to enable exceptional provision to be made for the protection of the community when “any action has been taken, or is immediately threatened by any person or body of persons, of such a nature or on so extensive a scale, as to be calculated . . . to deprive the community, or a substantial portion of the community, of the essentials of life.” On March 31 a proclamation was made under this Act declaring a “state of emergency” to exist, and by successive renewals at monthly intervals the “state of emergency” was continued until the settlement of July 1. Within this general period a state of more intense emergency occurred from April 8 to June 2. During this latter period the Reserves were embodied, and in addition to the enrolment of special constables, a Defence Force was enlisted with the object of supporting the police in providing protection to volunteers who were maintaining the mines in condition, or who might be required to carry on transport work in the event of the extension of the coal strike to railway and transport services. During the state of emergency, a series of emergency regulations were in force under which the Mines Department of the board of trade controlled the supply, consumption and movement of coal, and the police authorities in the various parts of the country were endowed with special powers for the suppression of sedition.

(B) Foreign Countries

A brief account is given below of the most recent statistics of the strikes and lock-outs in the principal European countries, other than the United Kingdom, available in 1921.

France.—Detailed statistics of strikes and lock-outs for the years 1890 to 1912 and summaries for the years 1913 and 1914 had been published by the French Ministry of Labour. The following are the totals for the years 1907-14:—

 Year   Number of 
Number of
 Duration in 

 1907 1,279  198,136   3,563,237 
 1908 1,104  124,248  2,307,120 
 1909 1,036  169,509  3,581,928 
 1910 1,511  290,899  4,887,837 
 1911 1,474  230,795  4,037,475 
 1912 1,120  268,230  2,335,891 
 1913[3] 1,073  220,448  2,223,781 
 1914[3] 672  160,566  2,192,078 

The principal groups of industries affected by the disputes were in 1907 the transport group involving 43,248 workpeople; in 1908 and 1909 the building trade group involving 56,691 and 42,658 workpeople respectively; in 1910 the transport group involving 83,025 workpeople, and the building group involving 75,695 workpeople; in 1911 the building group involving 93,660 workpeople; and in 1912 the mining and quarrying group involving 137,602.

During the years 1907 to 1912, 46% of the total number of workpeople affected were involved in disputes concerning wages, 19% in disputes concerning hours of labour, 10% in disputes concerning the employment of particular classes of persons, 11% in disputes concerning working arrangements and the remaining 14% in disputes due to other causes. The results of disputes during the period under survey were as follows: disputes involving 12% of the total number of workpeople directly affected terminated in favour of the workpeople; disputes involving 44% in favour of the employers; those involving the remaining 44% in a compromise.

Germany.—From 1899 statistics of strikes and lock-outs other than in agriculture have been published annually by the German Federal

Statistical Office. The figures for the period 1907 to 1918 are summarized below:

 Year   Number of 
Number of Workpeople
 directly or indirectly 

1907 2,512  280,016 
1908 1,524  119,781 
1909 1,652  130,883 
1910 3,228  390,706 
1911 2,798  385,216 
1912 2,834  493,749 
1913 2,464  323,394 
1914 1,223  98,339 
1915 141  15,238 
1916 240  128,881 
1917 562  668,032 
1918 772  1,325,897 

The principal groups of industries affected by disputes in 1913 were the metal and engineering group involving 81,025 workpeople, the mining and smelting group involving 78,221 workpeople, and the building trades group involving 69,899 workpeople. In 1918 the principal groups were the mining and smelting group with 336,378 workpeople involved, and the metal and engineering group with 279,921 workpeople involved.

Of the total number of disputes occurring during the period 1907-18, 52% arose on questions of wages, 16% on questions of hours, and the balance on questions of the employment of particular classes of persons, working arrangements and miscellaneous matters. During the same period 15% of the total number of disputes were settled in favour of the workpeople, and 39% in favour of the employers, while 46% were compromised.

Belgium.—Statistics of strikes and lock-outs are published by the Belgian Ministry of Industry, Labour and Supplies. The table given below shows the number of strikes and lock-outs, and the number of workpeople directly affected, in the period 1908 to 1919; with the exception of 1914 to 1918.

 Year   Number of 
Number of

1908 118  17,085 
1909 123  23,469 
1910 110  27,257 
1911 162  57,203 
1912 206  63,772 
1913 167  23,752 
1919 372  164,030 

The mining and quarrying and the textile industries accounted for 6,096 and 3,114 respectively of the workpeople affected in 1908, for 6,456 and 2,846 of the workpeople affected in 1909, for 21,103 and 2,388 in 1910, for 34,417 and 9,089 in 1911, and for 38,479 and 5,856 in 1912. In 1913 the textile industry accounted for 10,158 of workpeople affected, and in 1919 the mining and quarrying industry for 99,035 of the workpeople affected. The causes of the disputes during the period 1908-13 were mainly questions of wages, 52% of the workpeople being involved on this account. Of the total number of strikes during the same period 13% ended in favour of the workpeople, 59% ended in favour of the employers, and 28% resulted in a compromise.

Holland.—Statistics of disputes in Holland are published by the Central Statistical Bureau. The figures for the years 1907-19 are given in the table below:—

 Year   Number of 
Number of
 Duration in 

1907 154  15,154  4,366,691 
1908 135  7,165  91,860 
1909 189  8,455  272,013 
1910 146  13,238  334,595 
1911 217  20,005  435,992 
1912 283  21,672  367,751 
1913 427  30,161  787,876 
1914 271  25,569  361,400 
1915 269  15,179  165,247 
1916 377  18,127  249,442 
1917 344  31,317  526,507 
1918 325  39,640  607,236 
1919 649  61,667  1,051,884 

During the period 1911-5 the proportion of disputes due to questions of wages was 55%; it was 58% in 1916, 55% in 1917, 57% in 1918, and 58% in 1919. The results of the disputes during the period 1910-9 were as follows:—22% ended in favour of the workpeople, 28% ended in favour of the employers; 44% were compromised; and 6% were either indeterminate or the result unknown.

Sweden.—The Swedish labour department has published statistics of strikes and lock-outs since 1903. Figures for 1908 to 1919 are shown below:—

 Year   Number of 
Number of

1908 302  40,357 
1909 138  301,749 
1910 76  3,671 
1911 98  20,576 
1912 116  9,980 
1913 119  9,591 
1914 115  14,385 
1915 80  5,119 
1916 227  20,711 
1917 475  46,701 
1918 708  61,223 
1919 440  81,041 

Of the disputes recorded during the period 1910-9, 63% were caused by questions of wages. In the same period 28% of the disputes were settled in favour of the workpeople, 28% in favour of the employers, and 42 % were compromised.

Spain.—Statistics of strikes are published annually by the Spanish Institute of Social Reforms. The figures for 1905-18 are given below:—

 Year   Number of 
Number of

1905 130  20,176 
1906 122  24,394 
1907 118  12,671 
1908 127  12,748 
1909 78  6,683 
1910 151  35,897 
1911 118  22,154 
1912 169  36,306 
1913 201  84,316 
1914 140  49,267 
1915 91  30,591 
1916 178  96,882 
1917 176  71,440 
1918 256  109,168 

Questions of wages were the main causes of 48% of the strikes during the period 1910-8. In the same period 32% of the strikes terminated in favour of the workpeople, 34% in favour of the employers and 34% were compromised. In 1918, 29% of the workpeople directly affected were employed in agriculture and cattle breeding, 11% in the textile industry, 10% in the mining industry, and 9% in both metal and engineering and clothing trades.

(C) British Dominions

Canada.—Statistics of disputes are published by the Department of Labour. The following table shows the number of disputes, the number of workpeople involved and the aggregate duration in working days during the years 1908-19:—

 Year   Number of 
Number of
directly or
Duration in
 Working Days 

1908 68  25,293  708,285 
1909 69  17,332  871,845 
1910 84  21,280  718,635 
1911 99  30,094  2,046,650 
1912 150  40,511  1,099,208 
1913 113  39,536  1,287,678 
1914 44  8,678  430,054 
1915 73  9,140  106,149 
1916 75  21,157  208,277 
1917 148  48,392  1,134,970 
1918 196  68,489  763,241 
1919 298  133,988  3,942,189 

Of the 449 disputes recorded during the period 1911-5, 128 occurred in the building trades, 103 in the metal trades, 51 in the clothing trades, 39 in the general transport trades and 29 in the mining industry. The majority of the disputes during the same period were due to questions of wages and hours, about 70% of the disputes being due to this cause. With regard to the results of the disputes during this period 139 or 30% resulted in favour of the workpeople, 164 or 36% in favour of the employers, 79 or 17% were compromised and in the remaining 67 cases the result was indefinite.

In 1919 the industry most affected by disputes was the metal and engineering, in which there were 45 strikes, involving 70,268 workpeople and a time loss of 1,993,704 working days. Forty

strikes, involving 10,779 workpeople and resulting in a loss of 287,146 working days, occurred in the building trades. Of the 298 disputes recorded in 1919, 223 were due to wages. In the same year 157 of the disputes terminated in favour of the workpeople, 88 in favour of the employers and 23 were compromised.

Australia.—The systematic collection of statistical data regarding strikes and lock-outs in Australia was initiated by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics at the beginning of 1913.

The following table shows the number of strikes and the number of workpeople directly and indirectly affected in the years 1913-9:—

 Year   Number of 
Number of
 Workpeople affected 

1913 208  50,283 
1914 337  71,049 
1915 358  81,292 
1916 508  170,683 
1917 444  173,970 
1918 298  56,439 
1919 460  157,591 

In 1919 the total number of working days lost on account of strikes and lock-outs was 5,652,726.

(J. H.)

(D) United States

In Nov. 1909, more than 25,000 shirt-waist makers struck in New York City; in July 1910 the cloak and suit makers in the same city; and in Oct. the men's clothing workers in Chicago. These strikes were remarkable for the numbers involved, and for the plans of adjusting grievances which resulted.

The joint agreement of the bituminous mine operators with the United Mine Workers expired April i 1910. Disagreements as to district boundaries prevented its renewal without friction. On April 1 about 300,000 miners struck. In most districts the operators soon granted the wages increases demanded. Some 45,000 miners remained out. In July the union concluded an agreement with the remaining operators, only to have it rejected by referendum of the strikers. The miners returned to work in Sept.; the union had paid out $674,216 in strike benefits. The same year, in Columbus, O., the street-railway employees struck three times, in April, May and July, because of discharges of union members. The state Board of Arbitration considered the company responsible. The strikes were marked by violence; much of the company's property was destroyed and a number of lives were lost. Twice the militia were used to restore order.

In 1912 there were strikes led by the Industrial Workers of the World among the silk workers of New Jersey, the lumbermen in Louisiana, and the textile workers in Lawrence, Mass. (See Trade Unions.) The Lawrence strike lasted for nine weeks and affected 12 mills. On Jan. 11 about 14,000 employees walked out, and during the strike the number increased to 23,000. The cause of the strike was the announcement by mill owners, when the state law went into effect limiting the hours of women and children to 54 a week, that the reduction in hours would not be accompanied by an increase in the hourly rates of pay. At the beginning of the strike only a small number of the operatives were organized; the paid-up membership of the I.W.W. in Lawrence was not more than 300. During the strike the I.W.W. claimed 14,000 members; but the next year the membership had dwindled to one-half. Violent acts by strikers, greatly exaggerated by the press, and violent acts by deputies, police and militia, scarcely mentioned by the press, embittered the struggle. Early in the strike Haywood, Ettor and Giovannitti, I.W.W. organizers, went to Lawrence. Their coming resulted in a reduction of violence, for they preached passive resistance; however, threats to prevent strikebreakers from working probably continued. A business man of Lawrence, not connected with the strikers, was arrested and fined for placing sticks of dynamite in various parts of the town, presumably to discredit the strikers. The American Federation of Labor contributed $11,000 to the strike relief fund, the Socialists $40,000 and the I.W.W. $16,000. Two hundred children of the strikers were sent to New York to be fed by other workers in order that their parents might hold out longer. Ettor and Giovannitti were arrested in connexion with the murder of a woman, and used their trial for propaganda. The I.W.W. urged a general boycott of Lawrence. As a result of the strike 30,000 employees received wages increases of from 5% to 20%, and an increased rate for overtime. The largest increases were given to the unskilled workers.

The anthracite coal strike, beginning March 31 1912 lasted seven weeks. About 170,000 men and boys were out. The results were wages increases, abolition of the sliding scale and provision for a grievance committee. A strike of the coal-miners of Paint Creek and Cabin Creek in W. Virginia lasted from April 1912 to July 1913, and was marked by violence and lawlessness. Thirteen lives were lost. It has been estimated that the employers lost $2,000,000 because of the strike, the strikers $1,500,000 in wages and that the strike cost the taxpayers of the state or county $500,000. Miners in other states contributed $602,000 to the strike fund. The U.S. Senate ordered an investigation.

In 1913 business was active, the cost of living was rising, and there were many strikes. A strike of silk workers in Paterson, N.J., beginning in Feb. involved 293 establishments and over 25,000 workers. The strike was in protest against the introduction of the three- and four-loom system, and to enforce shorter hours and increased wages. After the strike began, the I.W.W. sent in their leaders. They succeeded in holding the workers together during the five months of the strike. The attempt by the American Federation of Labor to organize the workers and effect trade agreements with the employers failed. The strike was lost through exhaustion of the workers. A strike in the copper mines of upper Michigan, for recognition of the Western Federation of Miners and to compel the enforcement of certain state laws, began in the summer of 1913 and lasted until April 1914. The men were taken back with the promise of wages increases and reduction of hours, but on condition that they give up membership in the union.

In Sept. 1913 a strike broke out among the employees of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Co. for recognition of the United Mine Workers' Union, wages increases and the enforcement of state mining laws. In Dec. a Federal grand jury indicted many of the union officials for violating the anti-trust Act by trying to create a monopoly of labour. Mine operators were also indicted for violating state mining laws. In Jan. 1914 the Federal House of Representatives ordered an investigation. Early in the strike the state militia had been sent in and martial law declared. Both sides were guilty of violence. The strikers had moved from the houses owned by the company to tent colonies on land leased by the union. One of the largest of these was at Ludlow. On April 20 1914 militia fired into the tents, which were ignited, and 7 men, 2 women and 11 children perished. Each side accused the other of initiating the attack. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., on behalf of the employing company, refused to go to arbitration with the union, which he believed to be controlled by eastern agitators. President Wilson then sent 2,000 Federal troops to restore peace. They took the place of the militia, who withdrew, and disarmed the strikers and mine guards and deported the strikebreakers. In Sept. President Wilson proposed that the company should take back the strikers not guilty of violence and establish grievance committees and a committee of appeals to effect arbitration. The proposal was accepted by the miners but rejected by the operators. Early in Dec. 1914 the President appointed a commission to settle future disputes in the Colorado mines, made up of representatives of the employers, the union and the public. The union then voted to call off the strike and on Dec. 30 part of the Federal troops were withdrawn. At no time during the strike did the directors of the company visit the property, but after investigation by the U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., visited Colorado. The result was the introduction of a system of employee representation. The miners voted to accept the plan, which provides for annual election, by the workers in each camp, of representatives to meet in conference with the employers' representatives. Each district conference names committees on conciliation, safety, sanitation, health and housing, education and recreation. A supervisor of welfare work was appointed. The workers were granted the basic 8-hour day and check-weighmen. A promise was given that union men would not be discriminated against, but the union was not recognized.

A lock-out of 16,000 coal-miners in Ohio which lasted more than a year was settled in May 1915, by Federal mediation. For a year after the war broke out in Europe, business was depressed in the United States, and many workers were competing for employment; but with increasing demand for labour on war contracts strikes again became numerous. In 1915 there were 102 strikes and 6 lock-outs of machinists in the four months July to Oct.; in nearly every case the basic 8-hour day was gained. In 1916 there was rioting in connexion with strikes in the oil refineries at Bayonne, N.J., of iron and steel workers in East Youngstown, O., and of 30,000 workers of the Westinghouse Electric Co. in Pittsburgh. Unorganized iron miners on the Mesaba range in Michigan were on strike from June to October. In the same year there were also strikes of longshoremen on the Pacific coast, and street railway employees in several cities. Coal strikes affected 350,000 men. Some 10% of the strikes that year were in New York City where more than 300,000 workers were out, chiefly in the garment trades.

After the United States entered the war the American Federation of Labor discouraged strikes in essential industries. Disputes were settled by negotiation. A number of strikes did occur, however, in some cases involving large numbers of workers; the great majority were settled by Government committees. Those responsible for war labour administration were of the opinion that the period of the war should be one of truce in the industrial field. Demands for closed shop or for radical social change were barred. The truce was not always respected by workers or employers, but on the whole it was adhered to. Local machinists' unions in Bridgeport and Newark came under radical socialist leadership. As many of the Allies' war orders were placed in Bridgeport there was great demand for machinists and the town became overcrowded. The men were dissatisfied because their pay was lower than that of men in the shipbuilding yards, and because employers discriminated against the unions. In the summer of 1917 the men demanded the 8-hour day, 10% increase in wages with certain minimum rates of pay for each class of workers, right of union membership and shop committees for the adjustment of grievances. The answer of the employers was to ask the U.S. attorney-general for criminal action. Various Federal agents were sent to Bridgeport but were unsuccessful in preventing the strike which occurred in May 1918. The strikers, however, were persuaded by the Federal mediator to return to work. Hearings were held in Washington before a special board of the Ordnance Department, and on June 8 the award was made public. After some protest the workers accepted it, but the employers refused, with the result that the men again went out on strike June 26. The War Labor Board took up the matter, but unsuccessfully, an umpire was appointed, who granted the 8-hour day, arrangements for collective bargaining, and wages increases for the most poorly paid workers; but not classification of workers with minimum wage rates. The men felt that the Government should have sustained its earlier award, and they refused to accept the second, which seemed to them to be a compromise with the employers. A third time they went out on strike. President Wilson then wrote to the strikers threatening that unless they returned to work immediately, they would be refused employment in any war industry in their community, they might not claim draft exemption on the grounds of employment in an essential industry, and that the U.S. Employment Service would refuse to find them work in other localities. On Sept. 17 1918 the men voted to return to work. The President also required the employers to reinstate all strikers. The collective bargaining machinery provided by the award never functioned.

In the summer of 1917 the entire lumber industry of the north-west was disorganized by strikes. The chief demand was for the 8-hour day. The President's Mediation Commission was unsuccessful in its attempt to settle the difficulties. The employers continued the 10-hour day, but they had difficulty in keeping men, and those who did accept employment practised sabotage. In the shipyards workers refused to handle “10-hour lumber.” These conditions continued until Col. Brice P. Disque, sent into the field by the “spruce division” of the War Department, effected the organization of the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen made up of both employers and employees and with the aim of improving conditions by mutual agreement. Members signed a pledge of loyalty to the U.S. Government. On March 1 1918 the employers introduced the 8-hour day without reduction of wages. A sanitary survey of the camps was instituted, and other improvements in living conditions were made. Labour turnover decreased and output increased considerably. Although at first it had aroused suspicion, the organization won support of most of the employers and men, but both A. F. of L. unions and I.W.W. continued to oppose it.

In many places the public, in sympathy with the employing interest and angered by the philosophy of the I.W.W., attempted to prevent strikes by arresting labour organizers as these came into a locality. Some were thrown into jail and sometimes kept there for long periods without trial. Among the strikes in connexion with which violence occurred were those of the miners in Arizona, in 1917, who struck near Jerome (May) and Bisbee {June) and also in two other districts. The chief demands were for higher wages and grievance committees. Mine owners charged the I.W.W. as responsible, although an A. F. of L. international union was actually in charge of the strike. About 100 miners were deported from Jerome by the employing interests, in cattle-cars. The train was turned back at the California state line, and the men were kept in jail for three months. On July 12 1917 in Bisbee, 1,200 strikers were dragged from their beds by armed citizens, compelled to march, and then confined in a ballfield and loaded on cattle-cars. The train was sent through the desert until taken over by soldiers camped at Columbus, N.M. Here they lived on army rations for three months, and then scattered. One-third of these men were members of the I.W.W. In July 1919 county officials arrested 107 men, prominent citizens of Bisbee, charged with kidnapping and assault, in connexion with the deportations of two years before. Civil suits for damages were filed against mining companies and the railways by the men who had been deported; these were settled out of court.

In the six months following America's entrance into the war 3,000 strikes were reported; in the first six months of 1918 the number was 1,771. When the Armistice was signed, the War Labor Board had on hand several hundred cases awaiting hearings. Now that the national emergency had passed, many employers and employees ceased to coöperate. Strikes began again. As in 1916 and 1917, the greatest number of strikes in 1918 and 1919 were in the metal trades, building, clothing, textile, transportation and mining. The largest number of workers in any one strike in 1916 was 60,000, in the men's clothing strike in New York; in 1917 no strike involved as many as 40,000; in 1918, 60,000 machinists were on strike in northern New Jersey. The strikes of 1919 were remarkable for the number of workers included; the total number was reported to the Bureau of Labor Statistics as 4,112,507. Not many strikebreakers were employed; the labour reserve was still depleted owing to business prosperity of the war period. Many of the larger strikes occurred in New York City and its vicinity; 176,000 struck in the clothing trades; 150,000 textile workers in New Jersey and New England; 16,000 marine workers struck in New York harbour in Jan.; 17,000 in March; and 20,000 longshoremen in March. In July 40,000 marine workers of the Atlantic coast struck; 100,000 were out sometime during the year. In 1919, also, 65,000 struck in the stockyards in Chicago; 100,000 in the shipyards of New York and vicinity; 151,000 in the New York building trades; 43,000 anthracite miners in Pennsylvania.

After the Armistice, war labour adjustment boards, one after another, were dissolved. Workers who had been prevented from striking by the promise of peaceful settlement of grievances, felt that the Government and employers had broken faith. The result was widespread unrest, and a number of spontaneous strikes by the rank and file of-union membership, not authorized by the union officials. Demands both for the closed shop, and for the open shop were pushed without thought of compromise. Employers discriminated against union men, and recourse was had to force. In accordance with a resolution of the convention of the A. F. of L. in June 1918, the 24 international unions which claimed jurisdiction over the trades in the steel industry coöperated to organize all the workers in that industry. Mass meetings were held in Sept. in mill towns. The companies replied by discharging union members; the U.S. Steel Corp. ignored the request of President Gompers of the A. F. of L. for a conference. On July 20 1919 the committee of the 24 unions decided to submit a strike vote to their membership. Twelve demands were made. The real issue was recognition of the union. Wages in the industry were high, but the hours long. In 1911 the stockholders of the Steel Corp. had ordered an investigation of conditions of work. The report showed that 50% to 60% of the employees in rolling-mills, open hearth and blast furnaces worked a 12-hour day. The committee recommended a reduction in hours, but the recommendation was quashed by the finance committee. In Sept. 1918 the basic 8-hour day was granted, which resulted in increased pay, not shorter hours. The communities in which steel workers lived were ruled politically by company influence. In W. Pennsylvania organizers were denied free speech and assemblage by local authorities. The unions voted to strike. The call to strike on Sept. 22 1919 was published in seven languages, to all workers in iron and steel mills and blast furnaces not bound by trade agreements. The companies prepared for battle. At McKeesport alone 3,000 citizens were sworn in as special police subject to instant call. The mills of the Pittsburgh district were fortified and provisioned. On Sept. 21 rioting and arrests began. The next day 365,000 men stayed away from work. The state constabulary were sent in. Gradually the men went back to work. On Jan. 8 1920 the national committee for organizing the workers permitted the 100,000 men still out to return to the mills. Those who were taken back were required to give up their union cards. The national committee reported that 156,702 union members paid initiation fees between Aug. 1 1918 and June 31 1920, and estimated at 250,000 the total number organized.

February 6 to 11 1919 there was a general strike in. Seattle Wash., involving 60,000 persons, in sympathy with shipyard employees who were striking for an increase in pay. The general strike was carried out by craft unions of the A. F. of L., although I.W.W. propaganda in the interest of industrial solidarity may have helped to put the workers into the spirit for such a mass demonstration. On the first day no unions stayed out; some workers had permits from the strike committee to work in the interests of public health and safety; garbage was collected and milk was delivered to distributing stations. A Labour guard patrolled the streets to preserve order. The business men viewed the strike as a “revolution.” The mayor announced that unless the strike were called off on the morning of Feb. 8, he would declare the city under martial law. This threat was not carried out, although citizens armed themselves, and the governor sent troops and machine-guns. On Feb. 11 the strike was called off. Workers had been returning, indeed, since the second day and a month later all were back, without wages increases.

The New York harbour strike of Jan. 1919 arose spontaneously as the result of local initiative and comprised practically all the 16,000 or 17,000 men employed on harbour craft. As a result 50,000 longshoremen also were idle. The harbour had been the scene of industrial dispute since 1917. The immediate cause of the 1919 strike was the refusal of the employers to appear for arbitration before the War Labor Board to which the men had appealed for the 8-hour day and increased pay. The employers were persuaded by President Wilson to accept arbitration, and the men returned to work. The award did not provide for the 8-hour day, and the men struck again. The Railroad Administration then made concessions to the men on boats, and they returned to work. Other Government employees followed, and by April the private employers settled for the original 10-hour day but with wages increases. On Oct. 7 the railway men struck again. The longshoremen joined them, against the orders of their national officials. They wanted increased pay; the strike dwindled away and was over by November.

In Aug. 1919, although forbidden by their national officers, the railway shopmen called a strike because of the delay of the Wage Adjustment Board to reach a decision on the demands of the men for increased pay. The strike began in Chicago and spread to New York and Boston; 250,000 men went out. After six days the strike was called off and the men returned to work. At the request of President Wilson the demands for wages increases were postponed. Other strikes not authorized by national officers of the union were those of employees of the General Electric Company in four cities in 1918 and of the New York local of the International Typographical Union in 1919. For 1917, 72 “unauthorized strikes” were reported, 58 for 1918, and 125 for 1919. Those in 1919 involved 1,053,256 strikers.

In Nov. 1919 435,000 bituminous coal-miners struck for wages increases of 60%. They also demanded the 6-hour day, and the 5-day week in order to distribute the work through the year. The miners at first refused to arbitrate the dispute as they feared the delay would give advantage to the employers. An injunction was issued to prevent the use of union funds for strike benefits. An award of an impartial committee was accepted in March 1920, which granted an average of 27% increase in wages, but the 8-hour day was retained.

About 93% of the policemen of Boston struck in Sept. 1919 for the right to organize and affiliate with the American Federation of Labor. The city was subject to rioting and crime until the National Guard restored order. President Wilson declared a police strike to be a crime against civilization. The police commissioner filled the places of the strikers with other men. In Aug. 1919 there was also an actors' strike, in which the stage hands and musicians joined in sympathy. An “outlaw” strike on the railways in April 1920, due to the delay of the President in appointing the Labor Board provided by the Transportation Act, was opposed by the brotherhoods. In 1919 and 1920 there were strikes on the Brooklyn Rapid Transit road, and in 1919 also on the Interborough Rapid Transit of New York.

A strike and lock-out in the men's clothing industry in New York of six months' duration was settled June 2 1921. The settlement may be regarded as a victory for the union, and for the principle of trade agreements. Since Sept. 1920 negotiations had been carried on between the employers' association and the union. Business depression gave an advantage to the employers, for whom a lock-out would not mean such a loss as if it had come a year earlier. On. Dec. 2 the employers presented an ultimatum to the union stating that unless piece work, a reduction in wages and the employer's full control of employment and discharge were accepted before Dec. 6 the manufacturers would put their own programme into effect, regardless of the decision of the impartial board. The union rejected the ultimatum. The reply of the employers was an announcement that the impartial machinery had ceased to function. Stoppages of work by employees and lay-offs and shut-downs by employers followed. By Dec. 13 the union instituted picketing. An offer of mediation by the state Industrial Commission was accepted by the union, but rejected by the manufacturers. The manufacturers' association resigned from the national federation. In Jan. 1921 one of the employers began suit for an injunction against picketing, $500,000 damages, and dissolution of the union because of its alleged revolutionary character. The suit for dissolution was dismissed on March 29. By March 27, 425 shops had reopened under agreements with the union, so that 25,000 of the 60,000 clothing workers were again at work. On April 5 the union announced that $1,000,000 had been raised toward their defense fund. Early in May certain of the employers resigned from the association, and the remainder reached an agreement with the union, by which the bargaining machinery with the impartial chairman was reinstated. The workers accepted a 15% cut in wages. The union brought suit for $1,000,000 damages against the employers on the charge of attempted boycott of union members.

Bibliography.—A. M. Bing, War-Time Strikes and their Adjustment (1921); P. R. Brissenden, The I.W.W. (1919); J. H. Cohen, Law and Order in Industry (1916); U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review. (J. R. Co.)

  1. Exclusive of the general strike at Dublin in 1913-4. which cannot be classified under any of the separate trade headings. This strike involved about 20,000 workpeople, and had an aggregate duration of about 1,900,000 working days.
  2. The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen before the close of this episode joined the other railwaymen and the transport workers in the discussions and the decisions on the question of sympathetic strike action.
  3. 3.0 3.1 The figures for the years 1913 and 1914 relate only to strikes.