Strikers versus scabs: violence in the 1910-14 British Labour revolt

Darlington, RR 2022, 'Strikers versus scabs: violence in the 1910-14 British Labour revolt' , Labor History, 63 (3) , pp. 332-352.

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Over the last 200 years of British labour history there have been frequent examples of assertive, aggressive and sometimes violent mass picketing aimed at stopping non-striking scab or so-called ‘blackleg’ labour [sic]. Yet remarkably little detailed attention has been given within the field of British industrial relations or even labour history to the contributory causes, characteristic features, impact and broader implications of this violent dimension of the strikers/scabs relationship within industrial militancy. This paper attempts to fill the gap, focusing on one of the most intense and graphic illustrative time periods, the pre-First World War Labour Revolt between 1910-14. Drawing on an extensive range of secondary literature and new archival material, it explores the way in which working class violence as a form of active collective defence became justified by the way in which it was directly provoked by the employers’ encouragement and/or importation of scab labour, combined with the partisan intervention of police, troops, civil authorities and government as a means of attempting to defeat workers’ struggles. In challenging the legitimacy of public order and state power, such action encouraged a culture of community solidarity and self-defence that embraced many local supporters in the mass picketing against ‘blacklegs’.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Labor History on 28th July 2022, available at:
Schools: Schools > Salford Business School
Schools > No Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: Labor History
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 0023-656X
Depositing User: RR Darlington
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2022 07:19
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2022 09:15

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