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The First World War

During the First World War, the Clyde was the most important British centre of production of warships: 43 per cent of the tonnage of ships ordered by the Admiralty between 1914 and 1919 was built in the Clyde yards. Most of these ships were built in yards which had experience of warshipbuilding: John Brown's, Fairfield's, Beardmore's, Scott's, Denny's and Yarrow's. These yards had already built a substantial proportion of the warships ordered during the rearmament before the war.



Wartime problems


The war caused problems for the shipyards. It was very difficult to obtain adequate supplies of imported raw materials, especially steel and timber, and it was difficult to maintain the labour force. The west of Scotland was a major recruiting area and many shipyard workers volunteered very soon after war was declared. The shipyards had to compete with one another and with other industries for workers.



Industrial relations


Working relations between employers and workers were very tense during the war and this led to some famous disputes. Industrial relations in the industry had never been good and peace was kept by a fragile balance of power between the employers and the trade unions. This balance was upset by wartime conditions.



The Munitions of War Act


On the one hand, the unions were strengthened by the shortage of labour and they were soon able to achieve increased wages. On the other hand the government greatly strengthened the employers' power by the Munitions of War Act of 1915. The purpose of this Act was to allow the maximum output of munitions, including warships, and its provisions were quite dramatic. The main provisions were that munitions factories, including shipyards mainly working on orders from the Navy, should be declared 'controlled establishments'. In controlled establishments –

1. strikes were made illegal

2. disputes were to be settled by special munitions tribunals

3. no worker could be employed without a 'leaving certificate' from his

previous employer (to show that he was a satisfactory worker and was

leaving with his employer's permission)

4. 'dilution' of labour was to be organised so that skilled work could be

done by unskilled men and women.


This disruption of normal working practice was made more difficult by the mutual suspicion of employers and workers and the suspicion that the government were not satisfied to have agreement in industry: they required agreement on working practices which maximised production. There were some employers and some politicians who believed that the workers were potentially revolutionary and that they should therefore be dealt with very severely. There were some employers who wanted to use the war to break the unions' power. Most workers believed that JJemployers wanted to break the unions and that the employers were making large profits out of the war which were not all being paid out in increased wages. They also resented the idea, which at one stage was given national publicity by Lloyd George, the Minister for Munitions, that shipyard workers were not working hard enough and that most of them were usually drunk.



The shipwrights' strike


This was the background to the shipwrights' strike of August 1915 which nearly brought production on the Clyde to a standstill. A dispute between two shipwrights, accused of not attending to their work, and a foreman, was badly managed so that it escalated to a strike of 426 shipwrights in Fairfield's. Under the Munitions of War Act this strike was illegal and seventeen men were convicted and fined. Three of the men refused to pay their fines and were imprisoned. The shipwrights' union informed the government that there would be a strike of all Clyde shipwrights if the men were not released. The government appointed a Committee of Enquiry into the dispute which reported within one week. The report of this enquiry, which sat for a time in Duke Street Jail to take evidence from the imprisoned shipwrights, disentangled the facts of the original small dispute from the large amounts of politics and emotion which surrounded it and made practical recommendations about solving future problems of this kind. The union considered that the strikes were vindicated by the report, they paid the men's fines, the men were released and the Clyde strike called off.


This was one of the incidents which gave the Clyde its reputation for being revolutionary - 'Red' Clydeside. Memories of these wartime disputes certainly played a part in industrial relations in the shipyards for most of the rest of the century.

Women workers


The appearance of women as labourers and metal workers in the shipyards was a dramatic development. (Women had always worked in shipbuilding, but as tracers and french polishers). By the end of 1916 it was calculated that about 1800 women were employed in the Clyde yards and that about 1000 were employed as labourers. Among the men there was considerable fear that this was the beginning of a permanent change in the pattern of employment. It is more difficult to establish if the women had corresponding hopes of careers in shipbuilding.



Wartime output, 1914-1918

Clyde vs UK



No of Engines/HP                                         241/5,384,890  hp              1000/2,612,569 hp

No of Hulls/Tonnage                                    483/654,937                        1000/1,519,693



The ships built on the Clyde included:


3 Battlecruisers

11 Cruisers 5 Monitors' 155 Destroyers 36 Submarines

2 Submarine Depot Ships 3 Aircraft Carriers

2 Destroyer Flotilla Leaders


and miscellaneous other vessels:


patrol boats minesweepers sloops minelayers troopships hospital ships barges oil-tank vessels salvage vessels


The Glasgow Herald Trades Review, 1919

Materials and productivity

·           The authors of the book from which this extract is taken were university economists.

While steel is the most important item for shipbuilding, it is only one of a large number of materials on which the industry depends. Timber is probably the next in importance, but partly manufactured and wholly finished articles are required in large numbers and in great variety. These during the war period were all difficult to procure, high in price and irregularly delivered. Timber in particular caused difficulty, as it is almost wholly imported; and this scarcity led to some developments which are likely to be permanent. For cabin fittings, for instance, and other parts in which finer woods are required, home-grown ash, beech and pines were used; concrete was effectively employed as a substitute for wood in keel-blocks; and in other directions experiments were made with new wood-substitutes, with varying success. The shortage of timber mainly affected mercantile building, since little is used in naval construction.

The scarcity of materials was hardly less serious than the shortage of labour. The pre-war disparity in price between the German and the Scottish ship­plates and sections delivered on the Clyde had led Clyde shipbuilders to go more and more to Germany for their plates. The cutting off of this source of supply with the outbreak of war caused scarcity and soaring prices; and the huge demands being made for steel for munitions intensified the problem of the shipbuilder.

By the end of the war the shipbuilding industry of the Clyde had a greatly increased productive capacity. Technically, certain advances had been made. Ships had been transferred in large numbers from their original used to more strenuous employments; general cargo vessels had been converted into carriers of oil in bulk; and river craft had had to be fitted and strengthened for work on the seas; and the work of reconstructing vessels for such new purposes yielded much valuable experience. Standardisation had resulted in simplification in many departments, particularly in template work; and the necessary speeding up in construction had led to the introduction, on a greatly extended scale, of pneumatic tools for riveting, caulking etc., and of electrical tools for drilling and other purposes. The increase in building facilities on the river itself is not of a kind which can be reduced to figures or indicated by any statement of the increased extension of building slips. In part it is visible to the eye in the shape of giant cranes which tower above the fog, suggestive of an illustration to Mr Wells' War in the Air.' But for the greater part the development consists of improvements and the re-allocation of space within the yards, making for speedier work and increased output. Fortunately many of the changes and improvements which were necessitated by the demand for naval construction, in which most firms took part, were of a kind available for post-war commercial work also. The net effect, therefore, was an improved capacity which promised well for the future.

W R Scott and J Cunnison, The Industries of the Clyde Valley During the War, 1924

Women during WW1 in shipyards



Relatively few of the unoccupied women are of independent means or from well-to-do homes. Those who are not wives of soldiers and working men are principally girls who, owing to the enlistment of brothers or other male relatives, have, by both the freedom from housekeeping duties and the need of augmenting the household income, entered into the labour market.

Work done by women in shipyards

Attending plate-rolling and joggling machines. Back-handing angle-irons. Flanging. Fitting, upholstering, and polishing. Drillers' and caulkers' assistants. Plumbers' assistants. Platers' helpers. Rivet heaters. Holders-on. Crane driving. Catch girls. Firing plate furnace. General labouring (gathering scrap and cleaning up vessels in construction).

Efficiency of Labour

In dealing with the efficiency of female labour in the metal trades, it has to be borne carefully in mind that many of the women had before the war no experience of working machines, and that the experience of those who had worked machines (eg textile workers) was of a very different kind from that necessary to skilled engineering work. Where simple labouring is concerned, apart from physical disabilities, women might be reasonably expected to become quickly proficient; and in the case of work done on automatic machines, where technical skill is subordinate to attention, carefulness and dexterity, they might also be expected to reach a fair level of proficiency in a short time. Such expectations have undoubtedly been satisfied. There is general agreement that in unskilled and semi-skilled work, women have very quickly achieved success. In regularity, application, accuracy, and finish, they have proved very satisfactory; and the opinions gathered on their work amply confirm what their earnings when on piece rate indicate. Where skilled work - requiring, in addition to the above-mentioned virtues, technical knowledge, experience, adaptability, and initiative - is concerned, it is too early to speak confidently. So far as opinion has been formed, it appears to be adverse; but no reasonable standard of comparison exists by which the fairness of the opinion can be tested.

In a shipyard, where the work done by women is drilling, red-leading, and measuring rivets,. the firm, while satisfied that the women were more attentive to their work than men, did not think their work so good, though it might become so in time: here, too, physical strength was probably the differentiating cause. On the other hand, a firm employing women at plate-edge machines found them very satisfactory and, in some case, superior to men. One woman earned 35s (£1.75) per week at the work, while the earnings of the man whom she succeeded had been 28s (£1.40) to 30s (£1.50) per week. The woman's mate (a man) was earning higher wages than ever he had done before, and this was attributed by the firm to the woman's ability. And in another case of women working drilling and other machines requiring about equal skill, a firm considered that the women were better than male apprentices of two and three years' experience working the same machines, and at one machine as good as a journeyman earning 91/2d (4p) per hour. It is in this new field of sub-division of labour and the subordination of the operator to the machine that skilled engineers have most to fear from the intrusion of women into their trade.


Both employers and women superintendents were generally agreed that women are, on the whole, excellent time-keepers. Not only are they punctual in their attendance at starting-time, but they are seldom off work for any lengthy period. Night-shift work accounts for more broken time than day­shift work, especially among married women. The reason given for this is that women do not so readily adapt themselves to night work as men. Sleeping during the day is not, as a rule, restful, particularly where it has to be done in an unquiet and undarkened room, and these disadvantageous conditions certainly are found in homes of many of the women workers. In addition to these influences which affect men equally with women, there is the tendency on the part of women to take the opportunity when on night shift to use the hours when they should be asleep for the performance of domestic duties. This tendency is naturally strongest in the case of married women who have children to look after; and some employers, recognising the fact, have done their best to exclude married women from their works.


In shipbuilding yards, the labouring work is trying (eg where bogies are pushed and where rubbish is removed from ships by women). Reference was also made in the course of the inquiry to the very trying effect of heat upon women engaged in a 'smiddy' back-handing angle-irons. The liability of women to pelvic congestion and hernia through lifting weights and prolonged standing was emphasised in the medical opinions given. In this connection, it is important to note that at least one firm employing a large number of women has provided seats for them.


Fatigue was referred to by several doctors interviewed as a consequence within their experience of the employment of women in engineering works. One doctor who had [worked] in Clydebank, a large engineering centre, stated that during his stay there he had dealt with many women patients, employed in the metal trades, complaining of general weakness. He stated the causes as hard and exacting work and carried food (constipation was a common complaint): a holiday, in many cases, was needed. Other doctors referred to the evil effects of night work. The women did not sleep well during the day owing to home conditions, and a considerable number of cases of fatigue resulted. On the bad effects of night work upon the women there was general agreement among those interviewed.


No evidence of a greater proportion of accidents among women than among men was secured. Apparently any accidents that have occurred have been slight in character and relatively few in number. The women are provided with overalls and head coverings by the firms in all cases, and these, with fencing of dangerous machinery, lessen considerably the liability to accidents. Such accidents as have occurred were put down to carelessness and undue eagerness rather than to the nature of the work. Where women are working on shipboard, some insufficiency of handrails on gangways has been noticed, and a recommendation for the wearing of men's overalls has been made where women have to climb iron ladders between the deck and the ship's bottom; but cases of this kind are exceptional.

Against the foregoing general evidences of deleterious effects upon health have to be set the opinion that, in many cases, the women have improved in bodily condition since entering the engineering industry. Improvement has been marked particularly in the case of women occupied prior to the war in dressmaking, tailoring, and other employments where the hygienic conditions were not so good as those in which they now work. But another and, probably, a more important cause is given. As has been shown, many of the women now employed in the industry came from low-paid occupations. Good wages have made possible more adequate nourishment and better conditions of life. which have resulted in raising the physical and mental tone of the workers. The economy of high wages appears to have here a practical example.


The chief certifying surgeon in Glasgow, Dr Scott, spoke to the well-marked ability of the women who had not been employed before (and who were, on the whole, better nourished), to stand the physical strain of the work better than their sisters who had been employed in textile and other factories. On the other hand, he was of opinion that the former were, for some time at least, more liable to accidents: he put this down to their inexperience of machinery and of factory discipline.

Attitude of Women to Organisation

The National Federation of Women Workers has made a strong and, in the circumstances, very successful effort to organise women munition-workers. The initial success has been difficult to maintain.

The fear of victimisation, whether justified or not, is very real. Another great difficulty is the feeling, particularly strong in soldiers' wives, that the Union stands for the restriction of output. the opinion expressed generally by the trade union officials was that once a few women had been organised in any shop, the others came in rapidly; but that where any small defection occurred, they went out as rapidly.


On the other hand, in the metal trades, . . . the appeal that has been made to the women to organise that they may safe-guard the position of the men who have enlisted has been very effective, due doubtless in large measure to the fact that many of the women are related in one way or another to male workers in the industry.



Trade Union Attitude to the Introduction of Women

(a) The Relaxation and Restoration of Rules and Customs -

The introduction of women into the engineering and allied trades has been accepted by the Trade Unions only on the plea of urgent national necessity: and then not without written guarantees (i) that the women shall go out with the end of the war; (ii) that the change shall in no way prejudice the economic position of the men; and (iii) that all Trade Union rights and customs shall be fully restored at the termination of the war.

Those guarantees were given in the 'Treasury Agreement' signed on 25 March 1915, by which the representatives of all the Trade Unions concerned in the making of munitions agreed to recommend their constituents to forego all customs and rules which would tend to restrict output. The provisions of this Agreement were later incorporated in the Munitions of War Act, 1915.

(b) Attitude of Men Regarding Post-war Position -

Despite the guarantees, the conditions at present in force to safeguard their position, and the power retained for the Board of Trade; Trade Unionists, and the rank and file especially, are convinced that their pre-war position is being undermined. It is pointed out that, although in a number of instances the employers themselves have been compelled to introduce women against their will, when once the trouble of training them, and of adjusting the shop organisation to the new conditions are over - assuming that certain processes can be economically done by such labour - a large reserve will have been created which, at the first favourable opportunity will be called upon.


It is further maintained that following upon the expiration of the twelve months period succeeding the close of the war, the old struggle against the encroachment by the employer upon the skilled man's ground through the introduction of automatic machinery worked by semi-skilled labour will be resumed with these additional factors operating against the men. The result will only be determined then by the relative strength of the organised forces.


The attitude of the skilled men's Trade Unions to women is largely determined by these considerations.

(c) Attitude of Women regarding the Post-war Position -

The opinion of the women as given by themselves and by their Trade Union organisers is that their presence in the engineering and allied trades is limited to the war. The women feel that a serious obligation rests with them not to prejudice in any way the position of the men on their return from the Army. On the other hand, the comparatively high earnings and the satisfactory conditions of work in the industry have raised in those women who were occupied prior to the war, a strong feeling against returning to their pre-war occupations under the old conditions of work and wages. How far this feeling - and there is no doubt of its strength - will affect the final attitude of the women to work in the metal trades after the war, or how far it will tend only to modify the conditions of female labour in other industries, it is not possible yet to determine with any accuracy.


A W Kirkcaldy ed., Labour Finance and the War, Pitman Publishing, 1916



for giving practical effect
(a) Dilution of Labour' Agreements
concluded between
The Clyde Dilution of Labour Commission'
and The Boilermakers and the Shipwrights' Societies', and


(b) Dilution of Labour generally




1. Riveters, Platers, and Caulkers to be interchangeable.

2. Angle Smiths and Blacksmiths to be interchangeable.


3. The numbers of Riveters and Caulkers to be augmented as required from Holders-on.


4. The numbers of Holders-on to be augmented as required from Heaters, Packers and selected Yard Labourers.


5. The numbers of Platers to be augmented as required from joiners, Carpenters and Loftsmen.


6. Pneumatic, hydraulic and electric tools, and oxy-acetylene or other cutting or welding plant to be used wherever practicable, and to be manned by skilled, semi-skilled, unskilled, or women labour, all as may be found suitable.


7. Rivet-heating on the ground, counter-sinking, light platers', helpers' work and back holding for angle smiths, to be done by women as required and found suitable.

'dilution of labour                                      - work done by workers who had not served apprenticeships at a particular trade

z Clyde Dilution Commission                  - officials appointed to make arrangements with employers and unions about dilution

' Boilermakers' and Shipwrights' Societies      - the names of two of the largest trade unions in shipbuilding



1. Shipwrights and Drillers to be interchangeable; also Shipwrights and joiners.


2. The number of Drillers to be augmented as required from joiners, Plumbers, selected Yard Labourers and women.


3. Electricians, engineers and other tradesmen to drill and tap their own holes as required.


4. Pneumatic, electric and other drilling or cutting tools to be used wherever practicable and to be manned by skilled, semi-skilled, unskilled or women labour, all as may be found suitable.


5. Piecework or premium bonus to be worked wherever practicable. DILUTION OF SHIPYARD LABOUR GENERALLY


1. Fitters, electricians, plumbers, coppersmiths, tinsmiths and sheet-iron worker to be interchangeable as required.


2. Women to be employed as far as practicable upon the following classes of work:


(a) Jerking, tracing, timekeeping, storekeeping and checking materials


(b) light labouring and cleaning up in shops, yard and ships, and driving light carts and vans


(c) polishing, painting on ground and decks and saw sharpening


(d) attending to furnaces, boiler lamps and fires, and plant in electrical department


(e) Smithy - attending steam, or pneumatic hammers, working at screwing and drilling machines, and other light finishing work including light hammer striking


(f) Plating shed - attending machines


(g) Fitting shop - attending drilling machines and small lathes, fitting rubber for water-tight doors and preparing packing


(h) Sheet iron shop - light iron or steel work

(i) Riggers' shop - sewing and other jobs, making sword matting, jacob ladders, and manropes

 (j) Electrical department - making clips in shop, plate polishing, making canvas washers, and yard electric stores; wiring on ships including temporary lighting

Papers of the Clyde Shipbuilders' Association, 1916

Drink & Absenteeism

Drink and absenteeism

·          These documents were all submitted to an enquiry into absenteeism ordered by Lloyd George, the Minister of Munitions, who made a very controversial speech about time lost through drink when he announced the enquiry in the House of Commons. The enquiry was followed by an Act of Parliament which cut the opening houses of public houses from thirteen to five and a half per day.

Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, 26 March 1915


I am very uneasy about the labour situation on the Clyde and Tyne. I have sent a telegram or two lately about it. You may think I am exceeding my sphere of action in doing so, but the efficiency of this fleet is so affected by it that I felt it my duty to wire.


To-day an officer in a responsible position arrived. His account of things on the Clyde was most disquieting. He said that the men refused altogether to work on the Saturday afternoon, that they took Wednesday afternoon off every week (if not the whole of Wednesday), and worked on a Sunday because they got double pay for it. He also said that they only worked in a half-hearted manner. My destroyer dockings and refits are delayed in every case by these labour difficulties, and they take twice as long as they need do. I feel that you ought to know the facts, and so put them before you now.

Brian H.F. Barttelot, Royal Navy, Superintendent of H.M. shipbuilding in Clyde district


... I have the honour to report on the effect of drink on the output of work.


From close observation - and my opinion is shared by all the managers of shipyards - the amount drunk by a section of the men is much greater than it was before the war, and it is on the increase. Those principally concerned are the iron-workers and shipwrights, and on their efficiency the output entirely depends.


The sole reason for this heavy drinking is that the men earn more money than they know what to do with.


In a shipyard last week where a warship is under repair, work on the inner bottom of the ship was so badly carried out as to suggest at once on inspection that it could not have been done by men who were sober. It was dangerous, and had to be condemned. In the same yard (and it is common in most others) drunken men, nominally at work, have had to be removed. Men are bringing or smuggling liquor into the yards in bottles, and facilities for buying spirits in bulk at public-houses and at licensed grocers must be stopped.


All this (and the serious point is that it is getting worse) has a much greater effect on delay than the shortage of labour.


I cannot state too forcibly my own opinion that the total prohibition of the sale of spirits would be the most effective act that could at the present time be taken to win this war. Any measure less drastic will not be a cure; it will keep alive the craving which has been growing after six months' indulgence, and some men will endeavour to satisfy it by keeping away from work.


The hours I recommend for the public-houses to be open for the sale of drink (not spirits) are from - Noon till 2pm and 7pm till 9pm

and drink must be consumed on premises, a prohibition being placed on the sale of liquor by the bottle by public-houses and by licensed grocers.


As to the districts in which restrictions should be enforced, they cannot be too wide. . . . I would like to see - and in this view I am supported by all shipbuilders on the Clyde - the whole city of Glasgow, and from there down to Gourock and Dumbarton on either side of the river, included in the restricted areas.


If that is not considered possible, then the following districts closely connected with shipyards must be in the minimum:­

On the North Bank -


All Finnieston

All Partick

All Whiteinch

All Scotstoun

All Clydebank

All Dalmuir

All Dumbarton

On the South Bank -


From Kinning Park

All Govan

All Renfrew

All Port Glasgow

All Greenock

All Gourock

I would also submit that a most beneficial effect would be produced if the men could be told by some leading statesman exactly and very plainly where they are failing their country. They have been flattered and told what splendid fellows they were just at the time when slackness was beginning to set in, and this has not had a good result. It is not that the men (I am referring always to the men who drink) are bad at heart or unpatriotic, but they have failed through weakness and opportunity, and they know they have failed and would at heart welcome being corrected and put right. Harry J. Wilson, Inspector of Factories, 3 April 1915


I have had many interviews from time to time with shipbuilders and engineers on the subject of bad time-keeping among workmen, and to-day I have supplemented my information by interviewing the Chief Constable of Govan and a number of publicans in an area surrounding the largest shipbuilding yards.


There does not appear to be any noticeable increase of drinking since the war began. The quantity consumed is about normal, the same men frequent the same premises, and those inclined to drink too much continue as before the war commenced. There is, however, some evidence that small bottles of whisky are purchased and consumed off the premises, especially by men on night-shift work. This, however, is confined to a very few men. For instance, in a yard employing 10,000 three men in one night were found partially intoxicated in the works and expelled.


In fairness to the men it should be noted that irregular time is confined largely to certain specific trades: riveters, caulkers, platers, riggers, and to a very much less extent engineers, are the chief offenders; such tradesmen as pattern-makers, moulders, turners, and time-workers generally keep relatively good time. Broadly speaking, the men engaged in outdoor work, that is, on the construction of the ship itself, usually piece-workers, are responsible for most of the irregular time, and their behaviour has cast a stigma on the general class of workers employed in shipbuilding and marine engineering which is certainly not justified by the facts, and it undeserved.


Coming to the causes of irregular time-keeping among the outdoor workers, while drinking is an important source of bad time-keeping, it is only one cause, and here again the action of a relatively small proportion will disorganise the work of many others who be capable and willing to work full time. Riveters and platers work in squads, but if one man fails to turn up at 6am the squad cannot proceed, and because of the absence of one man four or five will lose a morning's or possibly a whole day's work. Riveting is hard and exhausting work, and it is frequently and necessarily carried on in trying conditions - exposure in winter to bitter cold and damp. The temptation to take a morning or a day off during very cold or very hot weather is great, as the riveter knows he is indispensable at present, and will not lose his job if he does lie off. Moreover, his pay is sufficient, even with a partial week's work, to keep him and his family in comfort. The machine men working under cover are in a comfortable shop and have not the same temptation to lie off. Again the pay is relatively much less, and being time workers they cannot make up the lost time by a special spurt. Another important point frequently overlooked is that at present, owing to the extraordinarily scarcity of skilled labour, men who in ordinary times would never be employed on account of their irregular habits, are at work in many yards, and materially affect the numbers of those losing time. Briefly, I am convinced that the 'black squad' piece-workers have not risen much above the social position of the man earning 30s(£1.50) a week, yet their remuneration is equal to that of a professional man. They have not yet been educated to spend their wages wisely, and the money is largely wasted, for they have few interests and little to spend their wage on apart from alcohol.


For some reason, difficult to define, men do not readily take up riveting and plating, and consequently there is a constant shortage of this class. This shortage has tended to force up wages to such a extent that the present pay is in excess of their needs. The fear of loss of employment is absent, consequently there is no spur to stimulate a man to work regularly such as exists in most callings.


The question of fatigue due to prolonged overtime does not arise to any great extent. The same men do not work overtime week after week, and Sunday work is only done by the same man every second or third Sunday. The general feeling among employers is that Sunday work with double pay is not a success, it is considered that stopping it would improve time-keeping in the rest of the week.


One large works has just taken a vote of their men on the question of further

restrictions, and I attach particulars of the questions put to them, and the

percentage of men in favour of each alternative.

Per cent

1. Are you in favour of total prohibition?                                                    31

2. Are you in favour of leaving matters as at present?                              44 3.

Are you in favour of reducing hours to from 12 noon to 2pm and 7 to 9pm and on Saturday 6 to 10pm?                                                                                                        11

4. Are you in favour of reducing hours to from 7pm to 9pm on week-days, and Saturday from 6pm to 10pm?                                                                                                 4

5. Leaving hours as at present, but for sale of beer only                              10


Out of the 2,500 men employed about two-thirds voted.


Most of the drink on the Clyde is consumed on licensed premises; it is not the habit to drink much in the homes. A prohibition on the purchase of alcohol for consumption off the premises would possibly improve one class only, namely, those who have to work at night, and now take liquor to their place of employment. One must also recognise that teetotallers lose time as well as those who do not abstain. Away from shipbuilding pure and simple there does not appear to be any serious irregular time-keeping; it does not exist to any material extent in engineering generally, nor in the iron and steel producing towns in Lanarkshire.


The whole question has arisen because of the action of a few men in the more important shipbuilding yards, and there is a feeling that the mass of workers throughout the country should not be penalised because of the dissipated and unpatriotic behaviour of a small minority of overpaid men in one or two specific callings.


More comfortable working conditions improve timekeeping; for instance, during the last three weeks of fine bright weather distinctly better time has been kept. Again, much time lost by the 'black squad' is due to wet and windy weather; work outside is difficult and almost impossible under such conditions unless the building berth is a roofed one. To meet this difficulty, sheds are being built over the berths devoted to submarines and small shallow draft craft.


Figures showing the percentage of hours lost by outside workers are valueless unless allowance is made for the periods in which work is impossible owing to weather conditions. It is not uncommon for men to work on piece work until their clothing is wet through and the experience of employers is that, in this condition, if they hang about afterwards, colds and chills supervene, with perhaps the consequent loss of a week or fortnight's employment. These facts I mention so that the men's position can be given full justice.

Report and Statistics of Bad Time kept in Shipbuilding, Munitions and Transport Areas, 1915.


More comfortable working conditions improve timekeeping; for instance, during the last three weeks of fine bright weather distinctly better time has been kept. Again, much time lost by the 'black squad' is due to wet and windy weather; work outside is difficult and almost impossible under such conditions unless the building berth is a roofed one. To meet this difficulty, sheds are being built over the berths devoted to submarines and small shallow draft craft.


Figures showing the percentage of hours lost by outside workers are valueless unless allowance is made for the periods in which work is impossible owing to weather conditions. It is not uncommon for men to work on piece work until their clothing is wet through and the experience of employers is that, in this condition, if they hang about afterwards, colds and chills supervene, with perhaps the consequent loss of a week or fortnight's employment. These facts I mention so that the men's position can be given full justice.

Report and Statistics of Bad Time kept in Shipbuilding, Munitions and Transport Areas, 1915.



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