• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Coalfield, 1919 - 39

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Section A The Coalfield, 1919 - 39 The inter-war period was a devastating time for the Welsh coal industry. One of the primary reasons for this was foreign competition, something that had, until then, been a minor factor. Previously Wales had enjoyed something close to a monopoly in the coal industry, and now it was seriously challenged from abroad. Coal was now being produced in America, Belgium and Poland in large quantities, and (due to their superior efficiency) it was cheaper than Welsh coal. These foreign mines were partly mechanised, so they could produce coal faster and easier then the comparatively primitive Welsh mines. They also had the advantage of a more stable industry. Poor working conditions and continually declining wages led to long strikes in 1921 and 1926, during which Wales lost much of its business to its overseas rivals. Between 1920 and 21 Britain's overall coal exports had fallen by two thirds, and, as a result, collieries began to close rapidly. Even as competition in the coal industry was becoming fiercer, global demand was in decline. The 1930s saw a considerable drop in world trade. Fewer ships were required, and many of those that were still necessary had begun to make use of oil as opposed to coal. The result of all this was dreadful unemployment and consequently a decline in Welsh population (something that had not occurred for over one hundred years) Unemployment in Wales reached its peak in '32, with 165,000 out of work. ...read more.

Middle

In 1935, strikers at Nine Mile Point colliery (in Cwmfelinfach) initiated the first 'stay-down' strike in an effort to prevent any work continuing in the mine. This shows just how strong the miners' desire to fight was. They would put themselves through misery and risk their health to attack the mine owners and, possibly even to a greater extent, the strike breakers. This example was quickly followed elsewhere, and while it served its purpose, it caused permanent damage to many miners' eyesight. Section C The Effects of the Depression Years on Coalminers and their Families For the average welsh citizen, the depression meant severe poverty. Since most were on the dole, a family's income was quite consistent throughout the country, and it was barely enough to feed them. Many families could not afford to clothe everyone at once, and those who were dressed rarely had enough to keep warm. For the men, life was monotonous and unfulfilling. They would follow the same degrading routine each day, and spend most of their time at home, bored and depressed. This, along with the reduced funds, added greatly to the woman's workload as she desperately tried to keep the family functioning with so little. The situation became so desperate that unemployed men would work long, often dangerous shifts to be paid only in coal. An eight hour shift would be rewarded with four bags, saving (for the average family) only around six pence a week. There were those that couldn't get even this form of employment, and some simply searched tips and outcrop levels alone. ...read more.

Conclusion

Perhaps, then, this boom in the film industry (with families going two or three times a week) is not the mark of a happy community, but one that is deeply depressed. The fact that comedy was the most popular genre at the time supports this theory. Looking solely at the aspect of cinema, this is without doubt the most important source. Some information was unnecessary, (such as the names of Porth's cinemas) but the majority is material to the question. While the source is far from answering the question, it does give some useful information, and I did make use of it. Conclusion Life during the inter-war period was, on the whole, unpleasant for Welsh mining families. This can be mainly attributed to the poverty they endured, the bitterness and loathing they felt towards mine owners and strike breakers and a general feeling of emptiness as male life lost much of its purpose (due to unemployment). The national obsession with film and radio only emphasise this, as it is used as escapism in almost the same way as drugs are. Of course, this only really applies to those who had known a better life. As William Thomas says, "If you were brought up in a mining community you just accepted life as it was." For him, life had its ups and downs, as it did for anyone. The hardship he was born into simply meant that "a holiday in a tent at Porthcawl once a year" was cause for excitement, and that working in a pit for 50p a week was just life. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Trade Unions section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Trade Unions essays

  1. Explain fully and clearly the importance of negotiation within industrial relations to resolve disputes

    Another objective is that they have to prevent other professions revolting. The government have failed to do this as the firemen strike has encouraged more industries to go on strike and make more demands of the government. The government must not be bullied by unions and public pressure.

  2. Why did the General Strike of 1926 take place?

    The TUC had promised their support if an agreement was failed to be reached. So great efforts were made by the TUC to reach an agreement with the Government and mine owners to prevent a general strike. The discussions went on late into Sunday evening (May 3rd)

  1. For my report I will be analysing the recent events of the fire brigade ...

    It was seen that the government were flexible with that particular dispute and are trying to follow hat same pattern with this one. The public feel the government is doing its best however the union does not see this. Do you support the firefighters' strike action?

  2. Is the strike no longer necessary?

    The growth of this sector of the economy coupled with the extra time that women with families are making for themselves has been the driving force behind the huge increase in part-time work. Temporary and part-time workers are attractive alternative methods of recruitment in comparison to full-time employees because they

  1. What is the influence of women social workers in the United States labor movement?

    where collective bargaining is common and differential pay rates by gender are legislated but relatively easy to change. Equal pay has less impact in countries such as the United States, where the wage setting mechanism is more decentralized. Furthermore, enforcement has proven to be a major obstacle, particularly in developing

  2. Account for the much lower level of strike incidence in Britain in recent years. ...

    The changes in the public sector are also related. Privatisation and outsourcing and the emphasis on competition and efficiency, meant that employers were forced to manage better. An important factor working against strike action has been widespread feelings of job insecurity. High levels of unemployment and redundancies connected with 'delayering' and 'down-sizing' in a wide range of service trades

  1. The Winnipeg General Strike.

    In order to garner support for their cause when their employers refused to negotiate both the building trades unions and the metal trades unions took their cases to the Winnipeg Trades and Labour Council on 6 May 1919.9 The timing was critical because, at this juncture, an atmosphere of confrontation

  2. What were the main effects of the 1979-1997 Conservative governments’ reforms to collective ...

    According to Salamon (2000: p292) the Conservative government "aimed to redress the perceived power imbalance in favour of trade unions and allow management to re-exert its' prerogative which was to promote 'responsible trade unionism', to protect individual members against 'union tyranny' and to promote employment opportunities and labour flexibility through de-regulating employment."

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work