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Labour Unrest Among First World War Female Workers in the UK

Discussion in 'Military History' started by The_Historian, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron  

    Oct 26, 2003
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    Stirling, Scotland
    Love this article, especially the bit about the two women getting sacked for wearing trousers outside work!
    "On 30 September 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.’
    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.
    Our records document a significant number of intriguing, small-scale, self-organised strikes by female workers over a diverse range of issues. Women’s strikes are surprisingly common with one report noting that the women were ‘jumpy’ and might strike again at any time, and another observation attributing the labour unrest in London to ‘nervousness’ caused by air raids.
    The entries in the Ministry of Munitions digests (MUN 2) are frustratingly brief but capture the essence of why a group of women, or men, were striking. The types of strikes that can be found in the digests are hugely varied in both size and motivation. Several entries provide an idea of the different types of industrial action that were taking place across the country.
    I’m going to look at a selection of types of strikes – particularly those outside the issue of equal pay that were the focus of our last blog post."
    Striking women: labour unrest among First World War female workers | The National Archives blog
    Mutley likes this.
  2. Mutley

    Mutley Active Member

    Dec 5, 2014
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    Thanks for posting. Its always been a disappointment to me not being able to find out what my Gran and her sister's were doing during WW1. Always a shame the women's records are so few and far between.

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