Trade unions opposed to public sector pension changes are threatening the biggest campaign of industrial action since the General Strike. But what happened during this benchmark strike in the 1920s, and just how big was it?
The strike was called by the TUC for one minute to midnight on 3 May, 1926.
For the previous two days, some one million coal miners had been locked out of their mines after a dispute with the owners who wanted them to work longer hours for less money.
In solidarity, huge numbers from other industries stayed off work, including bus, rail and dock workers, as well as people with printing, gas, electricity, building, iron, steel and chemical jobs.
The aim was to force the government to act to prevent mine owners reducing miners’ wages by 13% and increasing their shifts from seven to eight hours.
The industrial action came against a backdrop of tough economic times following the First World War and a growing fear of communism.
On the first full day of action, on 4 May, there were estimated to be between 1.5 and 1.75 million people out on strike.
The printing presses ground to a virtual halt and food deliveries were held up.
During all this turmoil and discontent, one Sunday, in his sermon, a minister asked a question from the pulpit.
Decrying the General Strike, he boomed, “the miners are on strike, the tram drivers are on strike ,the train drivers and dock workers are on strike, the gas and electricity workers are on strike, the butchers and bakers and candlestick makers too…..”
….. BUT the Ministers are not on strike! And do you know why????
answer from a pew near the back:
Because if you were, nobody would miss you!”
Some years ago, in an old-fashioned railway carriage, a mother and daughter were sitting opposite a “dandy” who seemed to be preoccupied with preening himself and looking at his reflection in the window.
The little girl turned to her mum and asked “Mummy, what’s that man FOR?”
What is a minister FOR?
The Ideal Minister
He loves the older folks of the church, visiting them regularly. Besides this, he spends all of his time with the young people. The glow on his face reveals his secret. He’s spent many hours on his knees before God. However, he’s always available to anyone who drops by for a friendly chat. What’s a half-hour out of his schedule since he only works on Sunday anyway.
He loves to disciple new converts and gives full-time attention to calling on the elderly, ill, and shut-in. He has a model family, is always in the church office when you call and is busy at the hospital, just looking for a soul to comfort. He would never miss a church function. In addition, he meets all his neighbours and civic leaders within the community and wins their hearts too.
The ideal minister is only 29 and has been preaching 30 years. He preaches sermons that win the hearts of the lost and inspire the minds of the mature. Teenagers take notes on his sermons.
The ideal minister comprehends the complexity of church finances, has mastery of the church budget, and never talks about money. He is a strong believer in holiness and church discipline and never speaks a stern word to anyone.
The ideal minister is tall, short, lean, and husky, with brown hair and blond hair. He has a deep, resonant voice which, because it is quietly loud, pleases everyone and is audible to the hard of hearing. He can sing, lead music, and delegates authority to everyone. Besides this, he helps each layman and does all the things other people are too busy to do. In short, he keeps the entire church and each family running smoothly.
(Modified from Steve Merrill’s piece in The Evangelical Beacon, magazine of the Evangelical Free Church of America, copyright 1984)