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100 years ago: Rail strikers and managers

02 February 2024

February 1st, 1924.

THE railway strike has been, settled after eight days, during which the country has suffered immense and altogether unnecessary loss. The agreement arrived at in the early hours of Tuesday morning might with a little common sense and good will have been arranged before the engine-drivers left their footplates. We find it hard to understand why men who belong to a party pledged to international peace have not the same care for industrial peace. Practically every strike finishes with a more or less reasonable compromise, and it is sheer futility not to arrive at this compromise without disturbing the machinery of industrial life. In this particular instance, little credit can be given to any of the prominent figures in the dispute. Mr J. H Thomas was unnecessarily provocative, and the London worker, who found that it took him three times longer to travel from his home to his work, had cause to know that Mr Thomas’s assertion that the strike was a fiasco was ridiculous. Mr Bromley was quite evidently concerned for his own amour propre as well as for the interests of the members of his Union, and his melodramatic threats aggravated the situation. On the other side, the railway managers should have been far more conciliatory. Both Labour leaders and the directing heads of great industries should remember that they are primarily the servants of the people. The railway strike ends, and the country is at once threatened with a strike of dock workers, men whose wages are at the best barely more than sufficient to ensure necessities. We most earnestly hope that in this case cessation of work will be avoided, and that the employers will remember the Lambeth pronouncement that wages should be the first charge on industry, and will not harden their hearts.

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