Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/1050

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STRIEGAU, a town of Germany, in the Prussian province of Silesia, on the Striegau Water (Striegauer Wasser), 30 m. by rail S.W. of Breslau. Pop. (1905), 13,427. It contains four Roman Catholic churches, among which is that of St Peter and St Paul, with a vaulted roof 100 ft. in height, the highest in Silesia; a Protestant church and numerous educational and charitable institutions. The chief industries of the place are the making of cigars, malt and machinery; also of albums, portfolios and other articles in leather. Granite is quarried in the neighbourhood and there is an extensive trade in grain. It was near Striegau that Frederick the Great gained the important victory usually named after the village of Hohenfriedberg, on the 4th of June 1745. The town rights of Striegau date from 1242.

STRIKES AND LOCK-OUTS. A strike, in the labour sense, is a stoppage of work by common agreement on the part of a body of work-people for the purpose of obtaining or resisting a change in the conditions of employment. The body of work-people may be large or small, and the cessation of work may be simultaneous or gradual; e.g. if the notices to cease work happen to expire at different dates, the cessation may nevertheless be a strike, provided it takes place as the result of a common agreement. It will be seen from the above definition that a strike, though the immediate result of an agreement, formal or tacit, on the part of work-people to withhold their labour, may originate in a demand on the part of the employer as well as on the part of the employés. In the former case the stoppage is often (though loosely) termed a “lock-out.” It is obvious, however, that to distinguish stoppages as strikes or lock-outs according to the source of the original demand for a change of conditions would lead to a very arbitrary and misleading classification. Frequently it is not easy to say which side made the original demand to which the dispute is to be attributed, and frequently a stoppage is the result of a break-down of negotiations in the course of which demands have been made by both sides. Moreover, in so far as the distinction can be drawn, it would lead to the result that in almost all cases a dispute in times of improving trade would be termed a strike, and in times of declining trade a lock-out. It is not possible to frame an entirely satisfactory definition of a lock-out which shall enable it always to be discriminated from a strike. It may be noticed that the attempt to make this distinction has been abandoned in the board of trade statistics since 1894, both kinds of stoppages being now included under the comprehensive title of “trade disputes.”

The only basis of distinction between a “strike” and a “lock-out,” which is sufficiently definite for precise or statistical purposes, is the source from which the actual notice to cease work emanates, cessations resulting from notices given by the employers being termed “lock-outs,” while those which either result from notices given by the men, or from their withdrawal from work without notice, would be termed “strikes.” But whether the term “lock-out” be restricted as above, or applied, as in the popular use of the term, to any dispute in which the employers appear to be the aggressors, the distinction does not afford a sound basis for the statistical classification of disputes. The source of the actual notices to leave work is often quite an unimportant matter; while, on the other hand, if the ordinary current use of the terms be followed, there will be many disputes which, according to the workmen's view, should be termed lock-outs, and, according to the employers, should be termed strikes—a difficulty which was well illustrated in the controversy as to whether the “strike clauses” in admiralty contracts could be invoked in the case of work stopped through the engineering dispute of 1897. In the present article, therefore, no distinction is drawn for statistical purposes between a strike and a lock-out.

Another distinction, perhaps of greater importance than the above, but which in practice it is sometimes difficult to draw, is between a stoppage in pursuance of a trade dispute and a stoppage due to a bona-fide dismissal or change of employment arising from the intention of an employer to cease to employ a particular set of men, or of a group of workmen to cease to work for a particular employer. Generally speaking, a stoppage may rightly be termed a trade dispute if there be an intention on the part of both parties (at least at the beginning) to resume the relations of employer and employed on the satisfaction of certain specified conditions. Where the willingness to resume this relation exists on one side only the question is more difficult, and accordingly it is not uncommon for an employer to deny the existence of a trade dispute, although the men formerly in his employ may be actually drawing “strike pay” from their unions and “picketing” his works to prevent their places being filled. Such cases sometimes arise when the workmen consider that the dismissal of some of their colleagues is due not to personal faults or slackness of employment, but to some collective action which they have taken, or to their membership of some organization. Broadly speaking, however, the distinction is that a trade dispute is a temporary stoppage entered into to obtain or to resist a change of conditions of employment.

The essence of a strike or lock-out is a refusal on the part of a number of workmen collectively or of an employer to renew contracts of employment except on certain changed conditions. This simple situation may be complicated by actual breaches of contract, as when a body of work-people leave work without notice, or by attempts on their part to prevent other persons from entering into contracts of service, or to persuade other persons to terminate or break their contracts. But such features as these, though common to many strikes, are not essential. The question of the legal position of strikes, and of the methods adopted for the conduct of strikes, is discussed below. Here it is only necessary to point out that strikes, as such, are incidents arising out of the modern relationship of free contract as between employers and workmen, and have little real analogy with the revolts of servile or semi-servile labour in ancient or medieval times.

Trade Disputes in the United Kingdom.

Since 1888 the board of trade have kept a record of strikes and lock-outs in the United Kingdom. The following table, based on the official returns published by that department, shows the number and importance of these stoppages in the United Kingdom from 1893 to 1907:

 Year.   Number of 
 Number of Work-people affected.  Aggregate
Duration in
 Working Days. 

 Directly.   Indirectly.   Total. 

1893 615 594,149  40,152   634,301  30,467,765 
1894 929 257,314  67,934  325,248  9,529,010 
1895 745 207,239  55,884  263,123  5,724,670 
1896 926 147,950  50,240  198,190  3,746,368 
1897 864 167,453  62,814  230,267  10,345,523 
1898 711 200,769  53,138  253,907  15,289,478 
1899 719 138,058  42,159  180,217  2,516,416 
1900 648 135,145  53,393  188,538  3,152,694 
1901 642 111,437  68,109  179,546  4,142,287 
1902 442 116,824  139,843  256,667  3,479,255 
1903 387 93,515  23,386  116,901  2,338,668 
1904 355 56,380  30,828  87,208  1,484,220 
1905 358 67,653  25,850  93,503  2,470,189 
1906 486 157,872  59,901  217,773  3,028,816 
1907 601 100,728  46,770  147,498  2,162,151 

It should be noted that by “indirectly affected” are meant the work-people employed in the same establishments as those on strike, who are thrown out of employment owing to the strike, but are not themselves engaged in it. The board of trade statistics do not take into account the persons employed in kindred trades who are indirectly affected.

An important thing to note about the above statistics is that in many years they are dominated by a few large disputes. Some of the larger cases are shown on the following page.

In 1907 487 of the recorded disputes (or about four-fifths of the whole number) accounted for less than one-third of the total time lost, and this, it is to be remembered, is after the very small disputes have been excluded.

By “aggregate duration” or “time lost” is meant the product of the number affected multiplied by the duration of the dispute in working days, with some allowance for those