The Miners' Next Step and the General Strike of 1926
The Great Unrest is the term used to describe the years between 1908 and 1914 when Wales, and indeed Britain, saw many industrial conflicts such as the Cambrian Combine Strike, the Tonypandy Riots as well as a number of Suffragette protests. There was also a major dispute in the Cynon Valley, riots in Llanelli during the Railwaymen's strike, an attack on Jewish shops in Tredegar and on the Cardiff Chinese community during the seamen's strike.
The Miners' Next Step (43K)
Cambrian Combine Workmen's Manifesto, 1911 (94K) The Cambrian Combine Strike in the Rhondda in November 1910 was caused by a dispute over wages for working difficult and abnormal veins in the coal pits. D. A. Thomas, who had been the Liberal MP for Cardiff Borough and Merthyr, was the owner of the Cambrian Combine and the trouble started when some men refused the pay he was offering. 800 men were locked out following the dispute and by November of that year 12,000 men from the Cambrian Combine were on strike.
Tension turned into violence as some strikers tried to stop others from going to work, and there were riots at Tonypandy. There was open fighting between workmen and the police, shops and other properties were destroyed. After the rioting, the Home Secretary, Winston Churchill, sent troops into the area to keep the peace. They stayed there for weeks and this made him unpopular in the area for many years. The workers were on strike until October 1911 when they were forced to return on the owners' terms and conditions. Police at Tonypandy. (44K)
Part of The Miners' Next Step manuscript (42K) It was in this kind of atmosphere that The Miners Next Step was written in 1912. It was a syndicalist manifesto suggesting how ownership and control of the coal pits should change.

The Miners Next Step was written in 1912 by the 'Unofficial Reform Committee', which included socialists such as Noah Ablett and W. H. Mainwaring. In the leaflet the authors demanded a minimum wage and a seven-hour working day. The manifesto rejected state ownership and called for control of the mines to be given to the workers.

W. H. Mainwaring (13K)

A. J. Cook (46K)

Britain was paralysed for nine days, 3-12 May, during the 1926 General Strike. The main reason for the strike was the difference of opinion between the miners and the government over the propsals of the Samuel Commission on the coal industry. Many more workers went out on strike to show their support for the miners, including bus and train drivers, dock and factory workers, printers and most of the British workforce.

On 12 May the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in London announced that the General Strike had come to an end, as they had accepted better terms from Stanley Bladwin's Government.

The Miners Union rejected the new terms and they were the only ones not to return to work.They were locked out of the pits which led to communities suffering great hardship with many families becoming dependent on public soup kitchens. There was violence between those on strike and those who had returned to work, and during the last few weeks of the strike, between the miners and the police.

On 19 November the Strike came to an end in Wales when the workers had a choice between striking and starving. By this time the miners had to accept the terms and conditions of the owners and these were much less favourable than those offered the previous May. The number of miners in South Wales fell from 218,000 in 1926 to 194,000 the following year.

North Wales Chronicle, 6 May 1926 (78K)


Penrhyn Quarry Strike 1896-7 and 1900-03
The Miners' Next Step and the General Strike of 1926
Miners Strike 1972, 1974 and 1984

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