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9HI Industrial Revolution - Great Britain: Trade Union
The London matchgirls’ strike of 1888 was a strike of the women and teenage girls working at the Bryant and May Factory in Bow, London. The strike was caused by the poor working conditions in the match factory, including fourteen-hour work days, poor pay, excessive fines, and the severe health complications of working with white phosphorus, such as phossy jaw, but was sparked by the dismissal of one of the workers on or about 2 July 1888.
Match Girls at Bryant & Mays Factory sorting and packing matches.
Manfield's Shoe Factory c1900
Phossy jaw, formally known as phosphorus necrosis of the jaw, was an occupational disease affecting those who worked with white phosphorus without proper safeguards. It was most commonly seen in workers in the matchstick industry in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was caused by white phosphorus vapour, which destroys the bones of the jaw.
'The Industrial Revolution' examines the impact the great industrial transformation of 18th-century Britain had on both the domestic and international scenes. It asks what the Industrial Revolution really was, and who benefitted from it.
The movement known as the Industrial Revolution started in Britain in the 18th Century. By 1850, industrialization was taking root in parts of Western Europe and the USA, and by the end of the 19th Century, it had spread to Russia and Japan. It created the modern, industrial world in which we live today. The book charts the development of power-driven machinery, improvements in transport and the growth of towns. It also looks at the effects, both good and bad on how people lived and worked.
Skilled workers in Britain began organising themselves into trade unions in the 17th century (preceded by guildsGlossary - opens new window in medieval times). During the 18th century, when the industrial revolution prompted a wave of new trade disputes, the government introduced measures to prevent collective action on the part of workers.
Keir Hardie came to the conclusion that the working-class needed its own political party. With the support of Robert Smillie, the leader of the Lanarkshire miners, Hardie began advocating socialism and in 1888 stood as the Independent Labour candidate for the constituency of Mid-Lanark.
One of the consequences of the industrial revolution was workers began to combine in an attempt to protect their interests. As employers were hostile to these early trade unions, their meetings were often in secret.
J. Keir Hardie, (born Aug. 15, 1856, Legbrannock, Lanark, Scot.—died Sept. 26, 1915, Glasgow), British labour leader, first to represent the workingman in Parliament as an Independent (1892) and first to lead the Labour Party in the House of Commons (1906).
Due to the poor working conditions during the industrial revolution and the employee at the mercy of the employer, workers began to form large organisations called Trade Unions that would prevent further exploitation by opposing the Parliament and empowered the workers.
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Match Girls' Strike
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An exploration of the origins of the Labour Party, told through the story of Keir Hardie, Britain's first working class MP.
The Matchgirls Strike in the 1800s was the finale in big issue in the making of Matchsticks. Find out the basic story behind it, what happened and how it has changed how things are done since.
It's 125 years since the match girls' strike. Captain Nick Coke chooses his favourite object from The Salvation Army's International Heritage Centre museum; a Salvation Army match box. Nick goes out and about in Bow to trace it's history in The Salvation Army's past.