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Aftermath of the strike

Reasons given for the end of the strike by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) were not clear. The Daily News suggested that it was a combination of:

  • A realisation that the General Strike was a blunt and ineffective weapon doomed to failure
  • The Astbury judgement that ruled the strike was illegal
  • A shortage of strike funds in certain unions, and a reluctance on the part of banks to grant overdrafts for the continuance of strike pay in a dispute that had been ruled illegal
  • A fear that large numbers of strikers might begin to stream back to work, bringing an inglorious end to the demonstration of solidarity
  • A genuine and deep rooted dislike on the part of the TUC regarding the extension of an intolerable situation

Rumours were that the government was planning drastic action. Labour journals suggested there were plans to arrest leaders of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and confiscate union funds. The TUC said simply that it accepted Sir Herbert Samuel's proposals for a settlement. The government quickly repeated its position that Samuel had no official role as a negotiator. The miners refused to accept the call to peace. 

Trade unions collapse

A 1926 cartoon in which Stanley Baldwin's leadership is caricatured.
A 1926 cartoon in which Stanley Baldwin's leadership is caricatured.
©TopFoto

The effects of the strike on unions were drastic and long lasting. The miners continued to strike for a further six months, but eventually hunger drove them back to work and they were forced to accept longer hours, lower pay and local agreements. This reduced the power of the miners and increased the power of the mine owners. 

There was bitter resentment among the miners towards the government, and especially towards the Trades Union Congress (TUC), which the miners felt had betrayed them. In the mining and railway industries widespread victimisation of strikers took place. Employers seized the opportunity to sack workers they saw as potential troublemakers.

In 1927 parliament passed the Trades Disputes Act. This Act made sympathetic or supporting strikes illegal, effectively crippling the Triple Alliance. It also placed severe restrictions on picketing. Union members now had to contract-in to the union's political fund, reversing the Trades Disputes Act of 1913. Trade union membership fell by about 1.5 million in the next seven years, mainly due to the terrible unemployment following the Wall Street Crash.

On the brighter side, unions in new industries, such as electronics and automobiles, grew - however, these unions were more similar to New Model Unions. Employers, such as the Nuffield Corporation and Austin Motors, would now only tolerate skilled unions in their factories.

Transcript

THE MAN IN CONTROL

JOHN BULL (to the Pilot). "YOU'VE GOT US THROUGH THAT FOG SPLENDIDLY."
MR. BALDWIN (sticking quietly to his job). "TELL ME ALL ABOUT THAT WHEN WE'RE PAST THESE ROCKS."

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