Tremors of Discontent

My Life in Print 1970-1988

Tremors of Discontent Front cover showing Mike Richardson speaking into a microphone
While there are many academic studies of workers’ resistance and consciousness during the 1970s and 1980s, few accounts relate the personal-political experiences of the activists involved. Tremors of Discontent, however, explores how Mike Richardson’s individual consciousness came to change during that period. It shows how gradually his participation in trade union and left politics broke through his boyhood reserve, intensified by the external political, economic and social circumstances. By […]

Class war in 1892: Bristol dockers and Black Friday

M Shed 10th anniversary series

Miscellaneous 2021
The success of strikes in 1889 by Bristol dock workers over pay and conditions led to a massive rise in membership of the newly formed dockers unions. In the autumn of 1892 timber merchants based on the Floating Harbour, along with their ‘bosses union’ the strike-breaking Shipping Federation, launched a counter-offensive. Its aim was to smash the dockers unions and re-introduce the hated ‘piecework’. The outcome would be a dramatic confrontation between strikers and the military on the streets […]

Bristol dockers strike of 1949 in support of Canadian Seaman

M Shed 10th anniversary series

The 1949 Docks Strike involving Bristol dockers was notable as an international solidarity action in support of strike action by the Canadian Seamen’s Union. Canadian employers had used ‘scab crews’ to load ships. One of these, the SS Gulfside, had remained strike bound in Avonmouth from 1st April. A second ship, the SS Montreal City arrived with a cargo of tomatoes and bananas. As tugmen and dockers refused to work the so called ‘blacked’ ships, the Labour Government brought in troops to unload […]

The Great Post Office Strike of 1971

“Here lies the body of Postman Sid: he could not exist on fourteen quid!”

The 15th February 1971 was United Kingdom Decimalisation Day: no longer were there 12 pennies to a shilling, half-crowns, or 240 pennies to the pound. That day, 50 years ago, was also just over half-way through the greatest strike this country had seen since the General Strike of 1926: the 44-day national strike of 200,000 Post Office workers. Telegraphists, telephonists, Post Office counter clerks, cleaners, postmen (170,000 of them!) and PHGs (Postmen Higher Grade), members of the Union of […]

Christmas Webinar 3: God’s Beautiful Sunshine – The 1921 Miners’ Lockout in the Forest of Dean

Miscellaneous Events 2020
In 1921, in response to a severe depression in the coal trade, colliery owners, supported by the government, slashed labour costs. Refusing to accept this cut in wages, a million British miners, including many war veterans, a were locked out of their pits. The consequences for the 6,000 Forest of Dean miners, their families and the whole community, was brutal. However, the miners fought a determined battle for an alternative which included public ownership of the mines with decent pay and […]

The Forest of Dean Miners’ Riot of 1831

Forest Of Dean Miners' Strike 1831 Front Cover
In June 1831, the free miners and commoners of the Forest of Dean rioted. This book considers the background to the uprising and the motives of the participants. Chris Fisher contends that the uprising was a clear expression of considerable and justifiable resentment towards the state and capitalists as they encroached on the customary rights of free miners. The Forest of Dean Miners’ Riot of 1831 places the events in the context of a social and economic transformation which favoured private […]

Pity the Poor Buttyman

The Butty System in the Forest of Dean 1921-1938

Recent years have seen the growth of sub-contracting, piece work, self-employment, daywork, zero-hour contracts, minimum wages and the use of agencies in the never-ending attempt by capital to reduce the cost of labour. This is an account of the use of sub-contracting in the mining industry in the Forest of Dean 1922 – 1938. It examines the impacts of the system on workforce cohesion and solidarity as well as the extent to which it succeeded in increasing the rate of exploitation of the […]

Hero: Samuel Plimsoll

In 1871 alone, 856 British merchant ships were lost within ten miles of the British coast in conditions that were no worse than a strong breeze. Between 1870 and 1872, 1628 sailors were sent to prison in Britain for refusing to go to sea in ships that the sailors would refer to as ‘coffin ships.’ On the dockside opposite the SS Great Britain stands the bust of Samuel Plimsoll MP and on it’s plinth is engraved the ‘Plimsoll Line’. This was a simple idea that showed if a ship was overloaded. […]

God’s Beautiful Sunshine

The 1921 Miners’ Lockout in the Forest of Dean

Front cover with a photo of striking miners and their families enjoying a picnic
In 1921, in response to a severe depression in the coal trade, colliery owners, supported by the government, slashed labour costs. Refusing to accept this cut in wages, a million British miners, including many war veterans, were locked out of their pits. The consequences for the 6,000 Forest of Dean miners, their families and the whole community, was brutal. However, the miners fought a determined battle for an alternative which included public ownership of the mines with decent pay and […]

Blacklisting and corporate surveillance [Postponed until further notice]

"As old as the pyramids" - is blacklisting still with us? Phil Chamberlain A former member of the Economic League told MPs that blacklisting was as "old as the pyramids". That organisation was shut down in the mid 1990s and its successor, The Consulting Association, in 2009. Where might we see their handiwork today? Journalist and co-author of Blacklisted: The Secret War Between Big Business and Union Activists Phil Chamberlain will use a contemporary case study to explore how corporate […]