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Why did the General Strike of 1926 take place?

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Introduction

History Coursework- Sophie Garrod 5MCG Why did the General Strike of 1926 take place? The General Strike took place as a result of short and long-term problems. Long term factors such as the increase in Trade Union members, the change of ownership in the mines, and the threat of Communism were all starting points. The price of coal fluctuating along with economic instability in Britain, the US and Germany and the adherence to the Gold Standard also contributed to the timing of the General Strike. The growth of the Labour Party and the threat of nationalisation made private mine owners feel insecure. The First World War had seen the mines put into government hands. This meant national wage schemes and a seven-hour day guaranteed. However, at the end of the war the Sankey Report failed to report back uncammanly for nationalisation and Lloyd George did not enforce it. This meant workers found themselves back to regional pay scales and longer hours. Firstly, after World War One, the British citizens were expecting a change in lifestyle, and after losing many family members; they were expecting what the Prime Minister had promised them 'a fit country for heroes to live in'. ...read more.

Middle

Additionally, in March 1926, The Samuel Report was introduced which re-organised the coal industry by eventually nationalising the mines. The railwaymen and transport workers did not share the strikers opinions, and decided on the 15th April that they would not strike, this was formally named as 'Black Friday' by the miners. The working conditions were improved but the wages were redused to make the mine owners gain a big profit. This report however, was not accepted by the mine-owners, and in retaliation, lockout notices were placed on the mine's doors. This concluded with the Trade Union Committee (TUC) agreeing to support the miners, however not until 31st July 1925, which was later named as 'Red Friday'. This committee included transport, mining and train workers. The long-term problems were big factors adding to the strike, the conditions for the miners were extremely dangerous; in just three years (from 1922 till 1924) nearly six hundred thousand miners were injured. This figure does not; however include the amount of long-term illnesses several miners developed including silicosis and pneumoconiosis. Accidents such as the amount of gas produced in the mines and cave-ins were also frequent, and to compensate this, the miners argued that their wages should be sufficiently high. ...read more.

Conclusion

Many British people began to blame the government and so, turned to a new party, The Labour Party. This party became very popular quickly due to how the working-class people and miners had been treated for a while. This however was not the only threat to both the Conservative Party and the mine owners, in 1917, there was a Communist revolt which meant that the Communists were a constant threat to Britain. Therefore, the Conservatives tried to show that the Labour Party and the Communists were very similar, they did this by forging a letter from the Russian leader Zinoviev that showed that both the Trade Union and the Labour Party were working with the Communists. So, in the 1920 election, the Conservatives did well, and again were in power. The mine-owners were very much to blame for the strike and they were regularly criticised in magazines and newspapers for being greedy. However, they were against difficult economic times, and the price of coal was changing frequently. To conclude, the strike was caused by many long-term problems, some governmental and some due to other factors mentioned. The Ruhr Crisis and slight risk of Communism after the Russian Revolution in 1917 were also additions to the cause of the strike. ...read more.

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