Archiver > LANARK-HISTORY > 2003-10 > 1067377130

From: "billy bravaal" <>
Subject: [LKS-History] Red Clydeside ( cont )
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2003 21:38:56 -0000

Early in 1915 the workers at Fairfields struck for an extra tuppence
an hour and against the importation of blackleg labour. To defend themselves
their local union representatives, the shop stewards, established the Clyde
Workers Committee. Later that year, in a campaign led by women, Glasgow
tenants refused to pay higher rents, took their landlords to court and
secured rent control. The response of William Weir, head of the government
appointed munitions committee, was emotional and provocative about workers
failings, but complacent about his colleagues profiteering
The newly formed Ministry of Munitions was determined to dilute the
labour force with female labour, and the skilled workers unions,
particularly the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, while agreeing at
national level to co-operate, saw its authority drift to the workshops
where the skilled men dug their heels in, encouraged by Glasgow radicals and
pacifists to compare the threat to their wages and status with the luxury of
the war profiteers.
Early in 1916 the government acted. Commissioners drawn from the
ministry, the employers and union head offices were sent to enforce
dilution, and when this resulted in industrial action, particularly severe
at the huge Beardmore works at Parkhead, they arrested, prisoned and
deported several members of the Clyde Workers Committee and shop stewards.
The "martyrs" included David Kirkwood, chief shop steward at Beardmore's,
and the socialist orator's James Maxwell and John McLean, who found
themselves in prison in Edinburgh.


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