BBC News – What was the General Strike of 1926?

Trade unions opposed to public sector pension changes are threatening the biggest campaign of industrial action since the General Strike. But what happened during this benchmark strike in the 1920s, and just how big was it?

The strike was called by the TUC for one minute to midnight on 3 May, 1926.

For the previous two days, some one million coal miners had been locked out of their mines after a dispute with the owners who wanted them to work longer hours for less money.

In solidarity, huge numbers from other industries stayed off work, including bus, rail and dock workers, as well as people with printing, gas, electricity, building, iron, steel and chemical jobs.

The aim was to force the government to act to prevent mine owners reducing miners’ wages by 13% and increasing their shifts from seven to eight hours.

There’s been a lot of references to the 1926 General Strike in the media this past few days. Finally, the BBC has decided it might be helpful to explain what the General Strike was all about.

There’s always an impression the 1926 actions lasted for months on end, but the strike only lasted nine days in total. It eventually petered out, without achieving the goals originally intended, and resulting in legislation to make sympathy strikes and mass picketing illegal.

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