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Britain’s railway strike spreads
The train station in Newbridge, Co. Kildare Photo: National Library of Ireland

Britain’s railway strike spreads

London, 25 September 1918 - 40,000 railway workers in England and Wales are now on strike. The dispute arose over the refusal of a group of workers in South Wales to accept a recent offer from the government of a pay increase as they deemed it inadequate.

As a result of the strike, it is estimated that 30,000 miners in Wales are also now idle for want of carriages to load. Mail, goods and passenger traffic has been stopped and the transport of troops has been hampered.

The effects of the strike have also been felt in Ireland.

Yesterday the Cork representatives of the Great Western Railway of England received a communication from their headquarters stating that acceptance of traffic, including livestock, from Ireland to England via Fishguard was suspended. The result of this is the closure of all rail services for Cork via Waterford and Rosslare.

The Belfast Newsletter has denounced the labour action as ‘treasonable’.

It continued: ‘Strikes of any kind during the war are indefensible, because there are effective methods of settling disputes, but a strike of railway workers, in the circumstances in which this one has taken place, is so manifestly unpatriotic and treasonable that we are forced to assume that it is instigated by enemy agents.’

Historian Niamh Puirséil on the Irish trade union movement's response to the outbreak of the First World War

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.