100 Days Centenary Countdown: Case study- Protest and Unrest
Strikes, industrial action and civil unrest were still a common occurrence throughout the First World War. Workers sometimes went on strike to gain better pay or working conditions and the civilian population staged protests brought on by anti-German sentiment or as a result of frustration due to wartime conditions.
The events mentioned below have been recorded through Home Front Legacy and represent only a small selection of those that occurred on the Home Front during the First World War.
The East Yorkshire city of Kingston upon Hull saw several protests and civil disturbances during the First World War, with the first occurring on Saturday the 24th of October 1914. Anti-German demonstrations spread throughout the City again on the 15th of May 1915, with shops believed to be owned by people of German descent being attacked along Hessle Road. Shops on Hessle Road were attacked for a second time following the 6th of June 1915 Zeppelin raid on the city.
One of the largest protests of the war took place in Trafalgar Square on the 8th of April 1916. Following the introduction of the Military Service Act 1916, which saw the compulsory conscription of any man aged between the ages of 18 and 41, 200,000 people took to Trafalgar Square to voice their opposition to the act.
Although strikes were often in protest of unfair wages and poor working conditions, at least one strike resulted from the unfair dismissal of two female factory workers. The two factory workers were sacked by the Metallurgical Company in Newcastle for wearing trousers outside the gates of the factory. As a result of this unfair dismissal, all 17 of the other female factory staff staged a strike to show their opposition. All the women were reinstated, but unfortunately, all 17 women were sacked the following day for their participation in the strike.