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Strike at Lyons’ tea-shops

21 August 2020

August 20th, 1920.

NONE but the most exceptional circumstances can be held to justify a lightning strike, and we regret that owing to what looks like bad leadership some of the employés of J. Lyons and Co., Ltd., have struck work without notice. The question at issue appears to be whether or no a scullerymaid shall or shall not wear during her work the badge of the trade union of which she is a member. That is a small matter indeed, and the disaffected persons should not be surprised at the small sympathy shown by the public. The strikers are doing an ill service to their fellow workers, for they are helping to bring into disrepute a perfectly legitimate method of action — the strike. None can question the right of working people to withdraw their labour, but they are bound in honour to give notice. If that is done all concerned have an opportunity of investigating facts and sifting evidence before hardship is inflicted. In this case the probability is that the strikers will lose their situations, and no good be done. Meanwhile the people who are most inconvenienced are the tea-shop customers who belong chiefly to the same class as the strikers. The root evil is that trade union officials, too seldom themselves of the workers, are over-eager to justify their places by a show of aggressive activity. The failure of the recent strike at John Lewis’s shop in Oxford-street should have been a warning that when no legitimate occasion has been used the strike weapon will recoil upon the head of its brandisher.

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