Why did the General strike of 1926 take place?

Authors Avatar

Louise Todd 11I

Why did the General strike of 1926 take place?

76 years ago an earthquake shook the very foundations of British capitalism. For 9 days, not a wheel turned, not a light shone without the permission of the working class.

The general strike of 1926 did not fall from a clear blue sky, it happened because of a combination of many factors. Workers were unhappy, from 1910 to 1914 there were a series of strikes, and the triple alliance between miners, railwaymen, and transport workers was formed. There was rise in Syndicalism, the idea that unions should become larger and larger, perhaps joining together to fight for the working classes. In the end the unions would be so powerful that they would call a strike across the whole country and take control of industry in Britain. During the war Britain could not compete with countries such as Japan and the U.S.A who began selling their goods into British markets. The price of English coal dropped immensely the government were not helping the working class. In 1919 The Sankey commission recommended that mines stay under government control, but in 1921 the mines were returned to the mine owners. This was bad news for the miners and they called it black Friday.  In 1925 there was a government subsidy for nine months to keep up miners wages. To start with this was a good thing, but when in 1926 the government withdrew the subsidy mine owners again reduced wages and increased working hours. The workers were not happy and this is why the General strike took place. They saw no other option. All this meant that the situation in Britain at the time could be compared with a pressure cooker. There was only so much the workers could take before they would explode. It was a disaster waiting to happen.

Join now!

        Although the liberal government before the war was taking steps to improve living and working conditions in Britain, the country still faced industrial unrest. Between 1910 and 1914 there were a series of official and unofficial strikes across Britain. In July and November 1910 the railwaymen, boilermakers, miners and cotton workers all went on strike. Fortunately there was no bloodshed because Churchill delayed army intervention. As time went by and conditions were still not improved the strikes got a little more violent. In 1911 a Dockers strike in Liverpool and a national rail strike were both ended by the government ...

This is a preview of the whole essay