Wednesday, 2 March 2016


The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 27 April, 1908.

LONDON, April 25.
The threatened lockout in the shipbuilding 
yards of the north-east and west
coasts is about to come into operation.
The men balloted on the alternatives
(1) Accept the reduction of Is 6d per week,
or (2) refer the matter to arbitration, and
thence the establishment of conciliation
boards. To the latter alternative the 
employers objected.
The ballot was two to one in favour of
arbitration and the establishment of 
conciliation boards.
The employers thereupon adhered to
their ultimatum, and decided to serve
notices of lockout, affecting 80,000 ship-
wrights, joiners, drillers, wood-cutting
machinists, and others in all the ship-
building yards on the north-east and west
On the north-east coast the shipwrights,
joiners, and drillers have been out on strike
since January 21, 3500 men being affected.
The masters, in consequence of the depression 
in the trade, declared that all wages
should be reduced by 1s 6d a week for those
on time, and by 5 per cent, for those on
piece. There are about 25 trade unions in
the shipyards, and these all agreed to the
masters' demands but the three mentioned
above The workmen accepting the reduction 
number about six-sevenths of those employed 
in the shipyards. A clear indication of the 
depressed state of the shipbuilding
trade is given by the amount of new tonnage 
under construction on the north-east
coast. The employers base their demands
for a lower wage on the difficulty of securing 
the few orders for new ships unless they
are prepared to tender at a figure which, on
the scales of wages in force last year, would
show considerable loss. For a long time
the men declared that the masters were 
exaggerating the depression, and asked that
they might continue to receive the wages
on the 1906 footing, which were the highest
rates ever earned by the trades on strike.
The boilermakers and others came to terms
with the masters, and very many men 
benefited by the withdrawal of the lockout notices, 
and are now getting the hulls of new
ships ready for the shipwrights and joiners.
The following figures will show how comparatively 
few new orders for ships are reaching the north-east 
centres - the Tyne, the Wear, the Tees, and the Hartlepool and
Whitby districts 
Another sign of the depression in trade is
the crowded state of the Tyne between
Shields and Jarrow with vessels laid up for
want of remunerative freights. In some
places steamers with their fires drawn are
moored six abreast.

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