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100 years ago: Unofficial power strike

14 June 2024

June 13th, 1924.

THE well-wishers of the Labour Movement must view with alarm the persistent revolt against trade union discipline, the latest example of which is the unofficial strike in the London power stations, with its consequent immense inconvenience to the travelling public. The strike has been repudiated by the National Union of Railwaymen, and its members have been ordered back to work. Some of them have obeyed. On the other hand, at the moment of writing the Electrical Trade Union has threatened an extension of the strike, which may possibly mean the stoppage of the entire London tube system. As we have often said before, we are certain that no considerable section of workers can be induced to strike unless they have a genuine grievance. In this case, the National Union of Railwaymen admits that the shopmen are justified in demanding higher wages, and it is preparing to approach the railway companies with a national demand. Great trade unions move slowly, and the not unnatural impatience of the workers has been exploited by irresponsible agitators who are backed, if they are not subsidized, by the Communists. Such impatience is dangerous, certain in the long run to deprive the workers of benefits that might have been obtained by constitutional agitation. Mr. Cramp, the secretary of the N.U.R., was in Vienna when the strike began. His return to London was immediately followed by a stern denunciation of “self-appointed dictators”, and a repeated order to the members of the Union to return to work at once. Mr. Cramp realizes that the whole trade union movement is threatened. At the same time, Lord Ashfield, conscious of the support of the sane leaders of Labour, has announced that the strikers’ places will be filled to-day.

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