Reviews

Killing No Murder; South Wales and the Great Railway Strike is Robert Griffith’s extended English language version of his Welsh language book Streic! Streic! Streic! on the class politics of the 1911 rail strike and its significance today.

The book, published in conjunction with RMT, begins with an introduction to the political life of south Wales, within the British context, and through an analysis of Parliamentary politics, the role of religion and the early trade union movement.

 

Detailed accounts of the terms and conditions of railway workers are provided, and the second class manner with which the workers in the railway industry were treated in comparison with, for example, the coal, steel, and tinplate industries is highlighted.

 

From the start, this history analyses the material conditions in which railway workers lived and demonstrates how far railway trade unionists have come today through struggle.

Solidarity between railway workers and other trade unionists such as the miners is noted in the run up to the Great Strike, with railway unions providing financial support to the striking workers in the Rhondda valley. The valley was then under military occupation in order to suppress the dissatisfaction of the workers there, and to quell persistent rioting. Mention is also given to the international solidarity expressed by railway workers through their support of Dublin transport workers who were locked out of work in 1913.

In all the book is a highly commendable account of Churchill’s role as a class warrior, the role of the state in opposition to the labour movement and the active undermining of Harold Spiers for refusing to shoot a railway worker. Killing No Murder is an accessible book which clearly demonstrates that unity and militancy can win.