Railway labour and the geography of collective bargaining: the Midland Railway strikes of 1879 and 1887

Revill, George (2005). Railway labour and the geography of collective bargaining: the Midland Railway strikes of 1879 and 1887. Journal of Historical Geography, 31(1) pp. 17–40.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhg.2003.10.002

Abstract

Focusing on Midland Railway (MR) strikes in the 1870s and 1880s, this paper examines how the geographical properties of railway work shaped the conduct of collective action. It examines three sites of contestation within the industry discussed in terms of network and organisational spaces. These are considered in terms of the relative power of workers and managers to exploit the strategic resources available for them to conduct industrial action. The paper examines why it was so difficult for railway workers to pursue industrial action in the 19th century. It concludes by arguing that a key factor is railway companies power to define and redefine the spatial scale of railway labour variously at national, regional and local scales each configured in such a way as to hold railway workers in place.

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