Paul Salveson mentions the role of female railway clerks in the 1911 strike

Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 22nd July 2011 by Liam Physick

Paul Salveson expands on the role of women in the strike. The Railway Clerks’ Association, many of whose members were women, did not officially take part in the strike, but it instructed its members not to blackleg. However, the male-dominated railway unions tended to be hostile towards women: one might say the clue is in the very name of the National Union of Railwaymen

Interviewee: Paul Salveson

Interviewee Gender: Male

Interview Transcript

By 1911, on the railways, most of the women in trade unions were actually organised in the Railway Clerks’ Association, there were other women employed at carriage cleaners and in station restaurants, but they tended not to be unionised, but there was quite a large number of women in the Railway Clerks’ Association, which didn’t come out on strike, they weren’t amongst the four railway unions that called the official strike on August 15th, but what the RCA did do was instruct all its members to refuse to blackleg, and, so, that was obeyed pretty much to, to the letter by RCA members, men and women, and there is records of women being involved as, sort of, delegates to RCA conferences during the strike period, and so on, so they were certainly not prominent and there’s actually the history of the time of women and the ASRS and what became the National Union of Railwaymen, I wouldn’t say the NUR exactly come out full of credit, actually, for the way that they treated women, for a while they actually refused to recruit women at all, when the NUR was originally formed in 1913, that was quickly changed but I think there were some very entrenched reactionary attitudes on some sections of the unions, again typified by the likes of J H Thomas.

Tagged under: railway workers, 1911 strike, national union of railwaymen, trade unions, amalgamated society of railway servants, jimmy thomas, role of women, railway clerks' association

Categorised under: Work & Industry

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