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BUIRA History of Industrial Relations Study Group

BUIRA History of Industrial Relations Study Group

Labour Unrest pre-First World War: Germany and the UK Compared

Tuesday 12 November 2019

3.30pm for 4.00-6.00m (Tea/ coffee from 3.30)

Room tbc, University of Westminster Business School, 35 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5LS (opposite Madame Tussauds and nearly opposite Baker Street tube)

For further details or to reserve a place, please email Michael Gold ( or Linda Clarke ( 


3.30-3.50pm: Tea/ coffee/ refreshments

3.50-4.00: Welcome: Michael Gold and Linda Clarke (Chairs)

4.00-4.30: Ralph Darlington

Pre-First World War Labour Unrest and Women’s Suffrage Revolt: Never the Twain Shall Meet?

During the years immediately preceding the First World War, Britain experienced social unrest on a scale beyond anything since the first half of the 19th century. Both the women’s suffrage revolt for the vote (embracing suffragettes and suffragists) and the unprecedented labour unrest of 1910-14 (involving strikes in pursuit of higher wages, better working conditions and trade union recognition) utilised dramatic extra-parliamentary ‘direct action’ forms of militant struggle from below that represented a formidable challenge to the social and political order of Edwardian Britain. This presentation re-examines the historical record to deploy both new and previously unutilised evidence to provide a detailed assessment of the interconnections between the women’s and labour movements in this defining period of British history.

4.30-5.00: Joern Janssen

1910 Eight-week Lockout in the German Construction Industry: a Victory of Labour against Private Property

This presentation analyses the greatest industrial confrontation in German history, which ran from 15 April to 20 June 1910 and ended with the virtually complete defeat of the construction employers’ federation on 16 June 1910 through the verdict of a tripartite court of arbitration. It consolidated a new stage in labour-property relations and the role of labour in the development of anonymous capital. This industrial dispute was about a national framework agreement on collective employment relations and bargaining. It transformed employee organisation and divided the employers’ organisation, benefiting, on the one hand, the central sectoral industrial labour unions to the detriment of trade organisations and, on the other, the anonymous corporations to the detriment of personal ownership of industrial enterprise.

5.00-5.30: General discussion

5.30pm: Close (followed by drinks until 6.00pm)

The speakers:

Ralph Darlington is Emeritus Professor of Employment Relations at the University of Salford. He is the author of The Dynamics of Workplace Unionism (Mansell 1994) and Radical Unionism: The Rise and Fall of Revolutionary Syndicalism (Haymarket 2013), co-author of Glorious Summer: Class Struggle in Britain 1972 (Bookmarks 2001), and is currently researching for a book to be published by Pluto Press on The Labour Unrest 1910-1914.

Joern Janssen, born in Düsseldorf in Germany, studied architecture in the 1950s and worked as an architect from 1960 to 1970. He was awarded his PhD in political sciences (rer. pol.) in 1973 and became a Professor in construction economics at the Fachhochschule Dortmund from 1972 to 1997. He was a Visiting Professor at the University of Westminster 1997-2001, and since 1997 has been researching the history of labour-property relations.

16th September 2019