National Union of Seamen - World War I and After

World War I and After

After the outbreak of World War I the union began collaborating closely with the Admiralty and shipowners in support of the war effort. From 1916, Havelock Wilson emerged as one of the most vehement supporters of the war in the labour movement, ostensibly because of Germany's conduct of the war at sea, especially the alleged targeting of non-combattant vessels. In 1917 the Union provoked controversy by refusing to convey Arthur Henderson and Ramsay MacDonald to a conference of socialist parties in Stockholm, which had been convened in the wake of the Russian Revolution to discuss the possibility of a peace policy.

A further development in 1917 was the formation of the National Maritime Board as a governing body for the merchant marine. The union's involvement in this body allowed it to negotiate directly with shipowners over wages and conditions. In 1922 these arrangements were extended by the establishment of the 'PC5 system' which was intended to allow the Shipping Federation and the union to exercise joint control over access to employment in the shipping industry.

In 1921, the National Maritime Board imposed wage reductions which were supported by the NSFU. This acceptance of cuts in pay provoked considerable resistance from ordinary seafarers and from the rival organisations: the British Seafarers' Union and the National Union of Ship's Stewards. Other sections of the trade union and labour movement were also strongly critical of the NSFU's detrimental collusion with employers. This was especially the National Transport Workers' Federation, which helped to merge the rival organisations referred to above into a new organisation, the Amalgamated Marine Workers' Union, intended as a viable alternative to the NSFU. Further wage reductions were made in 1923, and 1925, which again outraged members.

Militant resistance to the NSFU was expressed through the Seamens' Minority Movement (founded 1924) part of the Transport Workers' Minority Movement. Criticism of the NSFU became increasingly widespread with its apparent role in the 1925 Special Restriction (Coloured Alien Seamen) Order, which is now seen as the first path-breaking attempt to expel non-British-born people; its failure to observe the General Strike in 1926; and its support of a 'non-political' Miners' Union in Nottinghamshire. In September 1928, the Union was officially expelled from the Trades Union Congress. However, after the death of Havelock Wilson in 1929 the NUS quickly began to pursue a more mainstream policy and became reconciled with the rest of the trade union movement. It adopted the title 'National Union of Seamen' in 1926. The term failed to recognise that women were also members; some seawomen had earlier organized in an unsuccessful Guild of Stewardesses.

By 1932 the Seamens' Minority Movement was 1,000-strong (less than one-hundredth of the maritime workforce). Attempts were made among SMM black activists to combat the notorious post-war racism. Race riots had occurred in seaports such as South Shields, Liverpool and Cardiff. And the union itself felt a duty to support its white British-born members first during times of high unemployment. Key SMM figures in the 1920s and 1930s included Barbados-born, London-based Chris Braithwaite (a.k.a. Chris Jones). His connections with many anti-racist initiatives including the Colonial Seamen's Organisation and the Pan-African Movement widened the SMM's links and brought international attention to the NUS's failure to back the largest black and minority ethnic workforce in Britain.

Read more about this topic:  National Union Of Seamen

Other articles related to "world war i and after, world war, world war i, war":

Thomas Ashby - Life - BSR - World War I and After
... move, and Ashby's volunteering not to fight in the First World War but instead to serve as a translator in the first British Red Cross ambulance unit, based at the ...
USS Alert (AS-4) - Service History - Submarine Tender, 1910-1922 - World War I and After
... The entry of the United States into World War I necessitated an increase of American naval strength in the Atlantic ...
The American Film Institute Salute To Frank Capra - World War I and After
... Living at home with his siblings and mother, Capra was the only member of his family with a college education, yet he was the only one who remained chronically unemployed ... After a year without work, seeing how his siblings all had steady jobs of some sort, he felt he was a failure, which led to bouts of depression and abdominal pains, later discovered to have been an undiagnosed burst appendix ...
Théodore Botrel - Life - World War I and After
... Botrel was an enthusiastic supporter of the French cause in World War I ... He decided to work for the war effort by writing and performing patriotic songs ... He had already published a collection of military songs before the war in 1912 as "Coups de Clairon" ...

Famous quotes containing the words and after, war and/or world:

    Me, what’s that after all? An arbitrary limitation of being bounded by the people before and after and on either side. Where they leave off, I begin, and vice versa.
    Russell Hoban (b. 1925)

    War. Fighting. Men ... every man in the whole realm is in the army.... Every man in uniform ... An economy entirely geared to war ... but there is not much war ... hardly any fighting ... yet every man a soldier from birth till death ... Men ... all men for fighting ... but no war, no wars to fight ... what is it, what does it mean?”
    Doris Lessing (b. 1919)

    But, where the road runs near the stream,
    Oft through the trees they catch a glance
    Of passing troops in the sun’s beam—
    Pennon, and plume, and flashing lance!
    Forth to the world those soldiers fare,
    To life, to cities, and to war!
    Matthew Arnold (1822–1888)