Two Tramway Strikes in North East England 1922

Gordon Morris and Martin Levy

Background

The TGWU was formed on 1 January 1922. Within weeks it was involved two bitter strikes in the tramway industry in North East England, by members at Newcastle upon Tyne Corporation Transport, and at the privately-owned Sunderland District Electric Tramway Company. To understand how these two different disputes arose and were fought, it is necessary to situate them in the context of the time. When the TGWU came into being,

The General Strike 1926

Organisation and support within the NEYH Region

 

Due to the size of the region I have focused on three geographic areas, these being Yorkshire, Humber and the North East. Within the Yorkshire area focus will be on Leeds and Bradford, though geographically close, they worked very differently in terms of organisation.

Cloth Workers Strike in Halifax in 1925

 

This is a remarkable success story where 10,000 local members of National Union of Textile Workers joined around 150,000 + members regionally to win a battle over pay. Combined with a temporary solution to the then coal crisis the textile workers victory boosted the morale of the trade union movement and suggested that if trade unionists, with the assistance of the relatively new Trades Union Congress General Council, could achieve unity in action then it was possible to defeat attacks on pay and conditions.

 

The Halifax area and the Building Workers’ Great strike in the summer of 1972

 

In the summer of 1972 Building Workers nationally took strike action and ended up winning their largest ever pay rise. Key to this success was the organising of local strike committees and the successful employment of flying pickets. The strike, during which the rank and file refused to allow their national officers to take control,  took place in a year when many workers were on strike with the miners’ also winning a famous victory. The state was to later hit back against BW activists and three were sent to prison.