This essay will select some key events, to produce for the reader evidence that will suggest that a Revolution was overdue in the West of Scotland. The reality was that the Clyde experienced a revolution in which traditional structures were challenged, an awareness of class-consciousness identified and fractures between various factions of society highlighted. Towards this end, the role of women is featured in this period. The rise of a political dimension that was more vociferous than ever before and issues of labour conflict, throws up several sub categories of Capital versus labour, ownership of work and the rights and roles of workers and management. This essay will demonstrate these themes are related, the working class of the Clyde were suppressed and exploited by the establishment and Red Clydeside provided them a revolutionary voice. These were not people who would turn to anarchy to achieve their ends, but they would test the limits of the boundaries of their revolutionary credentials. From the outset this revolutionary movement was not a common experience shared or subscribed to by all. Fischer and Know suggest too much attention was focussed the lives of male skilled Protestant workers. Eleanor Gordon tries to redress this perceived bias by referring to the large number of strikes involving women and she challenges the notion of female quiescence and docility in industrial relations before the First World War. The table below shows that Scotland as a whole employed only half the percentage of married women of the British average. The Dundee figure suggests that women were more than willing to work if given the opportunity, made possible by the differing nature of industry in the North East, being dominated by Jute and confectionery. Percentage of married women who worked, 1911
| Great Britain
Source: Census of Great Britain and Scotland, 1911.
‘Given that the average female wage in Britain was less than half the average male wage, thousands of women were condemned to abject poverty as they were denied the right to earn a living wage’. As a consequence women’s employment was an attractive proposition to employers. Women are an important part of this story. At the heart of the community they have a political voice, a social voice and an industrial voice. Women were becoming more unionised. One of the most successful, the National Federation of Women Workers, claimed that by 1908 it had two million trade unionists behind it and funds of £250,000. Kenefick and McIver challenge the conventional view that focussed on the First World War as the cause of the heightened class consciousness and militancy that was a feature of Red Clydeside and suggest the formative period for those who were to participate in future unrest and challenges against capital, the landlords and the state lay in the period 1910- 1914. They also put forward the case that ‘to Hinton, Burgess, Van Gore and White these years witnessed a surge in class consciousness and a fracturing of relatively peaceful industrial relations: capitalism was not threatened and significantly syndicalist ideas played little part in this protest. This surge in class-consciousness was reflected by the increasing militancy of women. Gordon points out that, ‘the statistics do reveal that women's strikes in the immediate pre-war years were on average longer and involved greater numbers’. The workforce employed by the Singer Company of Clydebank was predominantly female. The company did not believe in unions however, and membership was discouraged. One theme that pervades this whole period is the introduction of Scientific management. Company owners viewed Taylorism as a method of increasing their profits and reducing costs at the expense of the workforce. Twelve women cabinet polishers withdrew their labour following the re-organisation of their labour process, which involved an...
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[ 2 ]. Eleanor Gordon, Women and the Labour Movement 1850-1914 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), p.33.
[ 4 ]. W. Kenefick and A. McIvor, (eds) Roots of Red Clydeside 1910-1914? Labour Unrest and Industrial Relations in West Scotland (Edinburgh: John Donald, 1996) p. 1.
[ 7 ]. Iain McLean, The Legend of Red Clydeside (Edinburgh: John Donald, 1983) p.101.
[ 10 ]. Tom Bell, ‘Pioneering Days’, (London: Lawerence & Wishart, 1941) in Roots of Red Clydeside 1910-1914? Labour Unrest and Industrial Relations in West Scotland, eds. W. Kenefick and A. McIvor (Edinburgh: John Donald, 1996) p. 207
[ 11 ]
[ 12 ]. John MacLean, All Hail, the Scottish Communist Republic, (Glasgow: Scottish Republican Socialist Movement, 1920) [accessed 20 October 2012].
[ 13 ]. P.J. Dollan, The Clyde Rent War (Glasgow: The Scottish Council of the Independent Labour Party 1925) p.3.
[ 14 ]. J. Foster, ‘The Twentieth Century’ in eds Houston. R.A., and Knox, W.J., The New Penguin History of Scotland (London: Penguin 2002). P418
[ 15 ]
[ 17 ]. Irene Maver, Glasgow (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000). p.166.
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