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100 years ago: Tram strike: the Tube next?

28 March 2024

March 28th, 1924.

PUBLIC sympathy with the tramway employees in their reasonable demand for increased wages must be considerably modified by the blunt refusal to accept the compromise offered by the employers on Tuesday. We do not consider that the demand for an increase of eight shillings a week is in the least excessive, but the employers certainly went more than half way to meet the men in offering an immediate increase of five shillings to most grades, and the submission to arbitration of the balance of the men’s claims. Mr Bevin, the leader of the strike, stands for a policy of “all or nothing”. Rather than make what would probably be only a temporary concession, he prefers that the working population of London shall suffer daily inconvenience, which is hindering business and, so far as many women workers are concerned, imperilling health. Mr Bevin is quite consciously warring against the community. He warns us that in this war, not of workmen against masters but of a minority against the majority, he is ready to “call up his reserves”, which means that the tube railways may stop, and that if that does not compel submission to his demands other public services may be closed down. Mr Bevin and his associates are apostles of the doctrine of force. They are acting in direct opposition to the principles enunciated by the Prime Minister in his speech at Brighton. Whatever may be the result of the strike, the leaders have shown exactly the same indifference to non-combatants as was shown during the war.

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