The strike of 1853 in the cotton trade at Preston was also met by a lock-out. About 18,000 people were thrown out of work. The struggle lasted seven months, and during its progress public feeling was keenly roused. The 10 per cent advance in wages con tended for was successfully resisted by the masters, the last chances of the work-people being destroyed by the depression of trade consequent upon the outbreak of the Russian war. The cost of the strike to the workmen and their friends, in actual money paid, was £105,000.
In 1859 there occurred a strike and lock-out in the building trades of London. The object of the strike was to reduce the working day from ten to nine hours, the existing rate of wages_being retained. It was met by the simultaneous closing of 225 building establishments, at which 24,000 men were employed. The contest lasted for nearly seven months, and ended in the surrender of the after an enormous loss in wages and trade funds. No less than £23,000 was contributed by other trade societies, in aid of the men concerned iu this dispute.
The mining trades—coal and iron—have within the last few years shown ..larked triumphs of labor over capital. The great Forest of Dean and South Wales sti,ti.L-s in the coal-trade terminated at the beginning of 1873, substantially in favor of the employed. Yet there are some later facts which tell the other way. A determined strike of the Edinburgh hook-printers (1872-73), for the 51 hours limit, which lasted 13 weeks, terminated in favor of the employers. Notwithstanding the absolute neces sity which exists for coal in a climate and a manufacturing country like ours, and the close unions maintained by the working colliers, the coal-masters have succeeded in maintaining the upper hand, and wages are sinking back toward the old level, though now they will probably always remain at a somewhat higher point than they had reached up to 1872. The failure of the farm-laborers in 1873-74 to carry their struggle to a successful issue, even under the singularly able leadership of Mr. Joseph Arch, and notwithstanding the fact that large numbers were assisted to emigrate, so reducing the competition for employment upon which the farmers relied for victory, is another proof that triumph is not always with the men. It is only right to add that the
men could scarcely be expected to succeed in their first organized attempt against a system centuries old.
Only a small proportion of existing trades-unions have registered themselves in accordance with the act 34 and 35 Vict., cap. 31; yet the report of the registrar of trades-unions showed in 1877, 278 registered trades-unions, with 260,222 members, an income of £254,565, and a fund of £374,989.
The nine-hours movement created great excitement for a time, but was practically settled in favor of the labor-classes. The first strike for it was by the Edinburgh masons in 1861. After an exhaustive struggle, the masters yielded the men's denutud for a limit of 51 hours a week. Agitation was kept up by different trades in succession ; and ultimately the hours of labor 'were generally so fixed. But in 1878 a disposition to insist on 54 hours was manifested by employers in various quarters.
The lowering of the franchise to household suffrage has lent a new significancy to trades-unions. They have now become a great power in politics. There is the trades congress, which holds an annual conference in the different leading towns, and discusses questions affecting the interests of labor. They have not yet begun to publish transactions; but, no doubt, they soon will, for this congress is undoubtedly to be one of the controlling social powers of Great Britain. It appoints a committee every year, which sits in London, to look after the acts of parliament and other public movements affecting trade. Another object they contemplate is to get working-men returned as members of parliament; and this they have at last accomplished by the election to the parliament of 1874 of Mr. Alexander Macdonald for Stafford, and Mr. Thomas Burt for Morpeth.—Mill's Political Economy; Report of C.; Social Science Committee on Trades' Societies, 1860. For recent legislation on the subject of trades-unions, see the article COMBLNATION.