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Why did the General Strike of 1926 take place?

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Introduction

Why did the General Strike of 1926 take place? There were many factors that came together after the First World War that culminated in causing the start of the General Strike, and perhaps made such an event inevitable. Principally, these were the ongoing dispute between the coal miners and the mine owners and the miners' desire to keep the advantages they had gained during the war. This dispute was made worse by the government's belief in the free market in the face of the British industry slump between 1921 and 1925, and by the union alliance system and the government's belief that the unions were trying to control them using syndicalism (controlling the government using strikes). Whilst these were the main underlying reasons for the strike, its actual timing was influenced by government tactics to delay the 'moment of truth' in 1925 in order to make preparations to limit the impact of the dispute on the country as a whole. Whilst the dispute between the miners and owners had been ongoing for some years, they were brought to the fore in the years of the First World War. During the war, the government took over the running of several major industries, of which the coal industry was one. In these years of nationalisation, the miners' wages, hours and safety improved, and at the end of the war, the miners wanted to keep the advantages they had gained. ...read more.

Middle

They thought that if they threatened a strike, the government would have to get involved in the dispute. This could have had the effect of actually turning the government against the Triple Alliance as they did not want to be bullied, but the unions saw this fact as their bargaining weapon. On the other hand, the government saw this as undermining their authority and a threat to the way the country should be run. The trade unions and the Labour Party, who were on the side of the unions, believed that the employers were being unfair and exploiting employees, the employers and the government, on the other hand believed the unions were a threat to the Constitution, as they could effectively hold the country 'hostage'. The Government were also concerned by possible influences of Russian socialism on the Labour movement and the unions. This fear was primary due to the 'Zinoviev Letter', published in the Daily Mail in 1924, which suggested that the Labour party was in League with Russian communists. It was later found to be a forgery but at the time the letter was seen as proof that Labour was working for socialism and, as a particularly damaging section of the letter read, to 'develop the propaganda of ideas of Leninism in England and the Colonies'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Thos strike was the only option they now felt was left open to them. The government's refusal to give in had forced the TUC into action, and the General Strike began on 4th May 1926. In summary, the General Strike of 1926 took place because of the conflict and dispute between the miners and the mine owners and later the involvement of workers' unions and the Labour Movement on the side of the miners and, from 1924, the Conservative Government on the side of the owners. These disputes escalated after the First World War, when the workers experienced better conditions and safety in the mines in the times of nationalisation. After the war, the government refused to keep the mines nationalised and therefore the miners went on strike, other unions with similar grievances got involved in supporting them and threatened to strike themselves. However, the government took these threats as an attempt at syndicalism, and refused to back down to the miners requests. The British industry slump between 1921 and 1925 further worsened the situation as more cuts in pay were enforced. The 'Red Friday' agreement delayed the General Strike for nine months, but ultimately the refusal of both sides to back down would inevitably end in a General Strike. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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