Central strike conference of the National Union of Railwaymen, the TransportSalaried Staff's Association, the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineersand Firemen, and the Union of Railway Signalmen.
GENERAL STRIKE BIRMINGHAM RAILWAYUNIONS CENTRAL STRIKE COMMITTEE
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Administrative / Biographical History
In 1926 the government set up a Royal Commission to look into the problems ofthe Mining Industry. The Commission published its report in March 1926. Itrecognised that the industry needed to be reorganised but rejected thesuggestion of nationalisation. The report also recommended that theGovernment subsidy should be withdrawn and the miners' wages should bereduced. The month in which the report was issued also saw the mine-ownerspublishing new terms of employment. These new procedures included anextension of the seven-hour working day, district wage-agreements, and areduction in the wages of all miners. The mine-owners announced that if theminers did not accept their new terms of employment they would be locked outof the pits from the first of May. A Conference of the Trade Union Congressmet on 1st May 1926, and afterwards announced that a General Strike 'indefence of miners' wages and hours' was to begin two days later. The TUCdecided to bring out workers in what they regarded as the key industries -railwaymen, transport workers, dockers, printers, builders, iron and steelworkers - a total of 3 million men (a fifth of the adult male population).Only later would other trade unionists, like the engineers and shipyardworkers, be called out on strike.
During the next two days efforts were made to reach an agreement with theConservative Government and the mine-owners. For several months the minersheld out, but by October 1926 hardship forced men to return to the mines. In1927 the British Government passed the Trade Disputes and Trade Union Act.This act made all sympathetic strikes illegal, ensured the trade unionmembers had to voluntarily 'contract in' to pay the political levy, forbadeCivil Service unions to affiliate to the TUC, and made mass picketingillegal.
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