The British General Strike
In the spring of 1925 storm clouds gathered over the British coalfields. The coming struggle was the chief conversational topic in the grim mining villages. Germany was re-entering the international trade war as a competitor of Britain. The German miners' wages had been slashed, the industry rationalized by the aid of Anglo-American capital investment, and German currency stablised by the Dawes plan. Already faced by this keen competitor, the British coal export trade was embarrassed by the Government's return to the Gold Standard.
It was soon obvious that the mine-owners would meet the new international situation by cutting wages, and on June 30th, 1925 they served notice to terminate the national agreements, proposing ending the minimum wage, heavy wages cuts and district, instead of national agreements. The Miners' Federation of Great Britain replied by putting their case before the Trades Union Congress Central Council at a joint meeting on July 10th. The General Council pledged the trade unions to full support of the miners and, setting up Special Committee, met the executives of all the railway and transport unions who agreed upon an embargo on moving coal. The unions quickly acted by issuing "Official Instructions to all Railways and Transport Workers":
"Wagons containing coal must not be attached to any train after midnight on Friday, July 31st, and after this time wagons of coal must not be supplied to any industrial or commercial concerns...Coal Exports: All tippers and trimmers will cease work at the end of the second shift on July 31st. Coal Imports: On no account may import coal be handled from July 31st....All men engaged in delivering coal to commercial and industrial concerns will cease Friday night, July 31st."
A specially summoned conference of trade union executive committees gave unanimous support to the instructions.