Was your ancestor involved in the London-based Match Worker's Strike of 1888? The event caused much publicity at the time, snowballing from the dismissal of a worker to what is now considered a milestone in the history of British trade unionism as 714 women and teenage girls fought for their colleague, fair pay and safe working conditions.
The amount of information listed varies, but the Match Workers Strike records usually include the following information about your ancestor:
These records provide the details of 714 East London match workers who went on strike against oppressive working conditions and unfair treatment in July 1888.
The strike began on July 2nd, 1888, when a worker was unfairly dismissed at a match factory owned by Bryant and May in Bow, East London. In June of that year reports had begun to circulate of fourteen hour days, poor pay and dangerous working conditions (the workers were in direct contact with white phosphorous, which was later banned in 1908).
The negative publicity had angered the company management and they had requested the workers sign papers contradicting the reports. When the employees refused to comply the management then sought to dismiss one of the key workers on another pretext and an immediate walkout then ensued.
Although the management realised their mistake and reinstated the worker, just five days later then entire factory, employing 1,400 people, was closed as workers demanded concessions on pay and working conditions.
Publicity grew quickly, strike funds were created and donations collected. The matter was even a cause for debate in parliament on July 11th.
By July 16th, 1888, Bryant and May had agreed terms across the spectrum with their striking employees in what was seen as a major victory for the workforce, and the strike ended. The incident, however, lived long in the memory and has gone on to become a significant milestone in the history of British trade unionism.