On i June 1871, the engineering workers on the Tyne struck for a reduction in hours from 59 to 54 a week, Sunderland workers having secured the reduction the previous month after a brief battle. There followed a classic nineteenth century industrial struggle which lasted five months and resulted in a victory for the men. Previous attempts to secure the reduction on the Tyne and on the Tees had failed, but now the workers were in a stronger position than they had been for many years. Foreign competition had almost disappeared because the United States was not yet a serious rival and Continental firms were busy repairing the damage caused by the Franco-Prussian War. Business was booming and the trade union movement was entering upon one of its periods of most rapid expansion. The report of the Royal Commission and the Trade Union Act of 1871 established the moral and legal right of unions to exercise their functions. The Reform Act of 1867 had given votes to many of their members.
KeywordsLocal Association Royal Commission Engineering Firm National Federation Trade Dispute
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