A poster calling for a strike to demand a 40 hour working week, January 1919.
National negotiations had established a 47 hour working week for men in the shipbuilding and engineering trades, to be introduced in 1919. However, the Clyde Workers' Committee and other militant groups demanded further cuts in working hours to protect jobs and wages on Clydeside, at a time when unemployment was rising as war contracts were completed and when tens of thousands of ex-servicemen were returning home in search of work. Many workers resented the fact that the new 47-hour week agreement removed their traditional morning break. A Joint Committee of shop stewards, members of the Scottish Trades Union Council and the Allied Trades Council was set up to organise a strike, which was nevertheless opposed by the Amalgamated Society of Engineers and most other unions.
40,000 Glasgow workers came out on strike on Monday 27 January. The strike continued through the week cumulating with a mass meeting in George Square on Friday 31 January. An outburst of violence (provoked by police over-reaction) led to the arrest of Emanuel Shinwell and other the strike organisers and earned "Bloody Friday" a place in the history books.
Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Museums
40-hour week, 47-hour week, Allied Trades Council, Amalgamated Society of Engineers, ASE, Bloody Friday, Clyde Workers' Committee, engineering, First World War, general strikes, Glasgow Trades Council, Joint Committee, political activists, posters, Red Clydeside, Scottish Trades Union Congress, shipbuilding, shop stewards, socialism, socialists, STUC, trade unions, trades unions, unemployment