British women trade unionists on strike at Bryant & May, 1888

The strike

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Bryant & May continued to prosper into 1887: the Bryant sons had renounced the Quaker religion, perceived as a serious barrier to social advancement. Their power and influence had managed to reach the very heart of the Liberal establishment. A statue to William Gladstone, which still stands on the Bow Road today, was built by the firm using compulsary contributions from their workers' wages. However, by 1888, wages had been forced down to levels lower than they had been ten years previous. This was to become clear to the wider world following the investigative journalism of Annie Besant. Her notorious article, 'White Slavery in London' in The Link (included in this section) epitomised the angst being generated against the firm, and encouraged a boycott of all B&M products. The strike of 1888 was not the first by Bryant & May's matchwomen, but it was the first to end in victory, and the formation of the largest union of women and girls in the country.Documents to be found herein include balance sheet ledgers showing the impact of the strike on company performance; press cuttings and correspondence relating to the sweating system and Bryant & May in particular; various pages from Besant's The Link; B&M shareholder meeting minutes, 'The Recent Strike' and various other company papers relating to the strike.

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Showing 8 documents The strike

Balance sheet and trading accounts, 1886-1893

  • Contributor: C L R James Library, Hackney
  • Reference: 72993c-01
  • Keyword:  politics activism women history protest unions workers co-operative
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Cassell's Journal correspondence

  • Contributor: C L R James Library, Hackney
  • Reference: 72993c-02
  • Keyword:  politics activism women history protest unions workers co-operative
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The sweating system

  • Contributor: C L R James Library, Hackney
  • Reference: 72993c-03
  • Keyword:  politics activism women history protest unions workers co-operative
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Press cuttings relating to the strike

  • Contributor: C L R James Library, Hackney
  • Reference: 72993c-04
  • Keyword:  politics activism women history protest unions workers co-operative
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'The Recent Strike'

  • Contributor: C L R James Library, Hackney
  • Reference: 72993c-05
  • Keyword:  politics activism women history protest unions workers co-operative
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Private letter book

  • Contributor: C L R James Library, Hackney
  • Reference: 72993c-06
  • Keyword:  politics activism women history protest unions workers co-operative
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Wage rates

  • Contributor: C L R James Library, Hackney
  • Reference: 72993c-07
  • Keyword:  politics activism women history protest unions workers co-operative
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Letters from Clara E. Collet to Gilbert Bartholemew

  • Contributor: C L R James Library, Hackney
  • Reference: 72993c-08
  • Keyword:  politics activism women history protest unions workers co-operative
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