On 30 SeptemberÂ 1916 ‘between 2,000 and 3,000 of the women employees of the Lancaster National Projectile Factory struck work as a protest against the dismissal of a girl. The girl had been dismissed because of misbehaviour with a male employee, who, however, had been allowed to remain in the factory.’ The Ministry of Labour reported they ‘anticipate the possibility of further trouble.’ 1
As my colleague Chris has previously demonstrated, the First World War brought unique, if limited, gains to women in the labour movement. Women appear to have developed a stronger understanding of their own labour rights and many were able to use the arbitration systems and government edicts on equal pay to protest against unfair treatment.
However, other methods also became necessary. Even in the patriotic climate of war, many women turned to striking.
What motivated women to strike?
OurÂ records document a significant number of intriguing, small-scale, self-organised strikes by female workers over a diverse range of issues. Womenâ€™s strikes are surprisingly common with one report noting that the women were ‘jumpy’Â and might strike again at any time, and another observation attributing the labour unrest in London to ‘nervousness’ caused by air raids. Continue reading »
- 1.Â Catalogue reference:Â MUN 2/27 ^