Rapprochement and Retribution: The Divergent Experiences of Workers in Two Large Paper and Print Companies in the 1926 General Strike

Mike Richardson
  • Historical Studies in Industrial Relations, September 2006, Liverpool University Press
  • DOI: 10.3828/hsir.2006.22.2

What is it about?

There is a vast literature on the General Strike which has covered most aspects of the conflict and assessed its aftermath.1 The best known discussions of its impact have estimated its effects on trade unionism in general terms.2 Yet, as one recent commentator on the events of 1926 observes, a ‘fertile route’ for research ‘would be to examine case studies at the level of individual enterprises to explore the impact of the dispute’.3 This chapter takes up that challenge. Its central concern is to present a study comparing the way the strike affected industrial relations in two large paper and print companies. Histories of trade unionism in that industry indicate that peaceful industrial relations prevailed in the interwar years and that, apart from the action of a few hostile companies which derecognized unions, the General Strike constituted little more than a minor breach in harmonious relationships.4 Thus little attention has been given to the events of 1926 in this industry, particularly at workplace level. Plant-level studies can broaden and deepen our understanding of the capital-labour relationship in this period and add to our knowledge of the consequences of the General Strike, which remains largely limited to ‘its effects on industrial disputes and on the actions of the central organizations of workers and employers’.

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