Saturday, May 03, 2008

1926: General Strike begins, solid in Liverpool

On 3rd May 1926, Britain's first - and so far only - general strike began, in solidarity against attacks on the wages and conditions of miners.

The government declared a state of emergency, and warships docked all around the country. HMS Ramillies and HMS Barham lurked ominously in the Mersey, while two battalions of troops were sent to Liverpool. Clearly, Britain’s second largest port was of great strategic importance.

Workers on Merseyside were among the best organised. Local activists had begun setting up a ‘council of action’ ten months before the strike, and had established a reliable network of communication. This was important, because most of the commercial presses had been stopped or severely restricted, and the Council of Action needed to let people know what was going on. Out of four million strikers, Merseyside provided about one hundred thousand. On the second day, the Council of Action reported that all engineers and shipyard workers on the Mersey were out. In Birkenhead and Wallasey, a group of strikers attacked the trams and brought them to a halt. Some people returned to work after a few days, while a strange alliance of unemployed and rich people became ‘blacklegs’ and crossed picket lines. But generally the strike was solid, and would probably have continued far beyond ten days, had the TUC leaders not negotiated a return to work with the government.

Click here for my full article from Nerve magazine. Click here for 'Ten Days In The Class War' - my timeline of Merseyside life during the general strike.
Post a Comment

Disqus for Infantile Disorder