• 1910

    Copenhagen Congress  Copenhagen Congress of 2nd International called for workers to oppose war
  • 1912

    Don’t Shoot  leaflet (Guy Bowman, Tom Mann, Fred Crowsley –all imprisoned)
  • 1914

    Industrial Peace 1914 (end of Aug) TUC and LP declared ‘industrial truce’, supported by Hyndman
  • 1914 Union of Democratic Control (UDC) formed

    Opposed the war from the start, as did Sylvia Pankhurst whose organisation, the East London
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Red Clydeside and WW1

The Clyde Workers' Committee aims were:


"to obtain an ever increasing control over workshop conditions, to regulate the terms upon which workers shall be employed, and to organise the workers on a class basis and to maintain the class struggle until the overthrow of the wages system, the freedom of the workers and the establishment of industrial democracy have been attained."

 

This body provided the model for similar organisations in other urban industrial centres. Its language was syndicalist, but its practice was not in the sense that it sought to link the industrial struggle in which it was firmly rooted to wider community based campaigns. Hence it transcended the narrower horizons of syndicalism to include women and unorganised workers in a more general political onslaught on capitalism. In this way the often limited and defensive demands of the strike movement were given a broader character in that they acted as mobilisers for the working class as a whole.

The new structures developed in the factories in the absence of official union backing aided this process. Narrow sectionalism preserved by individual unions crumbled as new directly elected workplace representatives took the place of the by now immobilised full-time officials. These representatives, the shop stewards, were not in themselves a new creation - they had existed in some unions, particularly the ASE, for some time, mainly to recruit new members and to collect union dues. Now, however their function changed beyond recognition. They not only dealt with the myriad of problems caused by the abandonment of pre-war industrial practices (especially dilution), but represented workers across craft and union divide thereby aiding the process of working class unity.

The fact that the shop stewards' movement was particularly strong among the engineers was significant given their key importance in wartime production and that their union, despite its traditional craft exclusiveness, was well established and well organised. The explanation for this is a political one. Socialists in all unions, albeit a tiny minority, were quick to seize upon the vacuum left by left by the abrogation of their union leaders and acquired an influence out of all proportion to their numbers. The shop stewards on the Clyde, even if they were not already socialists, came under the socialist influence of the Clyde Workers Committee the body which united them. The influence of the BSP, the SLP and the ILP was very strong in the West of Scotland, although the latter organisation did not have the industrial influence enjoyed by the other two. John McLean's (BSP) marxist education classes attracted hundreds of workers. Socialist militants like Willie Gallacher (BSP, and chairman of the Clyde Workers' Committee), Arthur MacManus, J.W.Muir (both of the SLP) and others gave practical and theoretical leadership to the growing mass movement in the factories and the wider community where rent strikes were common.

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