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Appears in Collections:History and Politics Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Black Sailors on Red Clydeside: Rioting, Reactionary Trade Unionism and Conflicting Notions of 'Britishness' Following the First World War
Author(s): Jenkinson, Jacqueline
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Keywords: black sailors
labour history
1919 seaport
Red Clydeside
1919 seaport riots
Sailors, Black Scotland
Blacks Employment Scotland History 20th century
Minorities Employment Scotland
Discrimination in employment Scotland
Labor unions Scotland History 20th century
Issue Date: 31-Dec-2008
Date Deposited: 17-Apr-2009
Citation: Jenkinson J (2008) Black Sailors on Red Clydeside: Rioting, Reactionary Trade Unionism and Conflicting Notions of 'Britishness' Following the First World War. Twentieth Century British History, 19 (1), pp. 29-60.
Abstract: This article considers the outbreak of the seaport riot in Glasgow in January 1919 against the background of Red Clydeside trade union activity. The riot at Glasgow harbour was the first in a wave of rioting around Britain's ports in 1919. Violence was triggered by increased job competition in the merchant navy at the end of the war. Seamen’s unions' fuelled animosity between competing groups as they sought to protect white British access to jobs by imposing a 'colour' bar on sailors from racialised ethnic minorities. Many of the seamen targeted in this way were British colonial subjects from Africa and the Caribbean. Black colonial sailors in Glasgow resisted attacks by white rioters and asserted their rights to employment as British subjects. The riot was connected to wider industrial unrest on Clydeside as leaders of the union campaign for a reduced working week to maintain full employment following demobilisation, brought unskilled labour, including merchant seamen, into a general strike alongside skilled workers. Strike leaders, including Shinwell and Gallacher, linked the 40-hours movement to the seamen’s unions’ protests against overseas labour by stressing the common interests of both in preserving the job prospects of (white) labour. The campaigns proved unsuccessful in the face of government fears over the revolutionary potential of the general strike and as the merchant shipping industry slid in to depression.
DOI Link: 10.1093/tcbh/hwm031
Rights: Published in Twentieth Century British History by Oxford University Press.; This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Twentieth Century British History following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version, Twentieth Century British History, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp. 29 - 60, is available online at:

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