Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/765/16686

From The Socialist newspaper, 15 May 2013

Yeadon Mill strike 1913

Striking back at greedy bosses

Iain Dalton, Yorkshire Socialist Party

One hundred years ago, mill workers in Yeadon and Guiseley, West Yorkshire, took heroic strike action over pay and working hours.

The textile industry adopted a system that Cameron's Tory ministers are trying to revive for the public sector.

Pay varied wildly by district, and when employers sought to negotiate rates they sent scouts out around West Yorkshire to find where similar workers were paid the lowest and used that as their benchmark.

The period from 1911-14 is known as 'the Great Unrest'. Workers across many industries fought to improve stagnating living standards. Some textile workers hadn't seen a pay rise in 18 years.

Fierce class battles included the first ever national rail and coal strikes, alongside major political debates over women's suffrage and Irish home rule.

Yeadon was just one of 1,497 disputes in the textile industry in 1913, affecting 93,510 workers.

A pay claim by the Yeadon, Guiseley and District Factory Workers Union (YGDFWU) for finishers, dyers and warehousemen sought to establish a flat 28 shillings (1.40) a day wage for all workers over the age of 18.

Instead the employers offered a one shilling increase to all warehousemen and finishers earning under 25 shillings a day, while the dyers would get nothing.

This divisive offer was rejected and a strike began across the district on 19 May 1913. All factories with union membership were solid, except Nunroyd's Mill in Guiseley which was picketed.

After two days of police escorting scabs into work, the employers threatened a lockout - perhaps motivated by fear of a repeat of the widespread rioting that followed aggressive police protection of scabs in the Old Dog Mill strike just four years earlier.

By the end of the week 2,000 were locked out and a mass meeting of 1,000 was held in Yeadon Town Hall square.

The following week, 1,500 workers marched from the town out to Yeadon Moor and within a few weeks the willyers, fettlers and cloth millers were also out, closing Crompton's Mill, one of the few still working in the area.

With the employers convinced if they stood firm they could starve out the workers and break the union, a compromise didn't seem likely soon.

Marches

Preparations were made for a protracted dispute as contingents of strikers were sent off on hunger marches to factory towns across the north of England, with one contingent reaching as far away as Blackpool.

Weekly marches into Leeds of up to 300 people involved strikers' families. Other union branches they had supported in the past - including textile workers in Manningham, Bradford - donated generously to strike funds.

The union secretary, Herbert Lockwood, was also a local Independent Labour Party (ILP) councillor on Yeadon Urban District Council.

This working class political representation proved vital to the strikers. A year earlier Lockwood established a distress fund for striking coal miners, and used the remaining money to support impoverished strikers and their families.

The capitalist Liberal and Tory parties tried, through the council, to set up mediation bodies to force the workers on to the old pay scales. These attempts backfired, building further support for Yeadon ILP.

After nine weeks on strike, a deal was struck giving a general agreement between the unions and textile employers in the area for the first time ever.

The deal meant a reduction in the working week without loss of pay, pay increases for various groups of workers as well as increases in night work pay.

The union compromised on some points, including not getting a pay rise for the finishers, dyers and warehousemen, although the reduction in the working week offset this to some degree.

Unlike the 1909 Old Dog strike, the employers hadn't been able to starve the men back to work. While not perfect, the deal helped the union to further build and organise, recruiting 247 more members by the end of 1913.

In November's elections, the ILP stood more candidates than before and came first, fourth and fifth in the polls for the three available council seats.

Just as at Manningham Mills 22 years earlier, where the ILP was set up after the strike, workers in struggle discovered the value of independent organisation and political representation and fought to secure them, as workers will do as a result of the coming battles against austerity.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 15 May 2013:


Fight the bedroom tax

Axe the killer tax: End the bedroom tax now

Bedroom tax non-implementation


Socialist Party news and analysis

Give us jobs, not Tory lies

Stop the health cuts!

Fat cat tax-dodging: 200 lorry loads of lolly!

Con-Dems' benefit fact fraud

Them & Us


International socialist news and analysis

Japan's 'Abenomics'


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

TUSC builds support in Leicester byelection

Swansea's food bank for students

British government supports murderous Sri Lankan regime

Socialist Party meeting against cuts


Socialist Party workplace news

Gloves off in Mid Yorks hospital battle

Brighton bin workers fight pay cuts - this time from the Greens

Wales TUC: no fight against austerity

Unison leader 'gets it wrong' over action on pay

PCS conference 20-23 May

One Housing

Workplace news in brief


Reader's comment

Letter to the Tories who tell me to 'work hard and strive'


Socialist history

When mass action defeated Thatcher's poll tax

Yeadon Mill strike 1913


 

Home   |   The Socialist 15 May 2013   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Strike:

triangleLondon bus drivers begin strike ballot over remote sign-on dispute

triangleTate workers on indefinite strike hold march and rally

triangleStrike wave marks new stage in revival of Iranian workers' movement

triangleMass protests in Israel demand Netanyahu's resignation

triangleLondon bus drivers poised for strike action

Pay:

triangleNHS workers: "We deserve a fair wage" - 15% now!

triangleAngry health workers demand 15% now!

triangleNational Shop Stewards Network lobbying for a lead from the TUC

triangleOur lives and livelihoods at stake

Union:

triangleTUSC to stand in elections again against pro-austerity politicians

triangleA critical election for Unison general secretary

triangleReinstate Richie Venton

Textile:

triangleLeicester socialists fight poverty-paying sweatshops

triangleJohn Lewis economy: another fantasy from Corporal Clegg

Yorkshire:

triangleYorkshire: Celebrating the life and ideas of Leon Trotsky

Historic events

Historic events

19/8/20

Trotsky

80th anniversary of Leon Trotsky's assassination

22/7/20

Britain

100 years since the foundation of the Communist Party of Great Britain

15/7/20

Bosnia

How capitalist restoration led to war and 'ethnic cleansing' in the Balkans

1/7/20

Labour

75th anniversary of the Attlee Labour government

24/6/20

Civil rights

Lessons from the Black Panthers

17/6/20

Slave trade

Reform or revolt? How was the slave trade abolished?

10/6/20

US

Roosevelt's New Deal programme - reforms to save capitalism

27/5/20

Britain

1920s Britain: A "country nearer Bolshevism than at any time since"

27/5/20

Lucas Aerospace

The 'Lucas Plan'

13/5/20

War

A new world order - global reconstruction after World War Two

13/5/20

War

The Spanish Flu of 1918 and how it "fanned the flames of revolt"

13/5/20

Europe

'Victory in Europe' 75th anniversary: A resurgent workers' movement and the fight for socialism

6/5/20

Obituary

Peter Hadden remembered

6/5/20

Tyneside

The Tyneside apprentices' strike during WW2

29/4/20

May Day

130 Years of May Day in Britain: Fight for workers' rights more relevant than ever

triangleMore Historic events articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999