Railway strike appeal, 1933
These collecting cards belonged to Dick Shaw – ‘Railwayman and Vigilant’ as his grandson described him when he donated the cards to the Library recently.
The Railwaymens’ Vigilance movement was formed by groups of railwaymen across the country who were challenging the way their own unions were representing them, especially as the depression of the 1920s and ‘30s worsened, and the railway companies sought to reduce their operating costs.
Dick Shaw became an active member of the Railwaymen’s Vigilance Movement in Burnley, and the Library is now very pleased to have been given copies, bearing his signature, of the movement’s journal Railway Vigilant – including the issue from April 1934 which contains a photo of him when he was standing for the Executive Committee of the ASLEF union as a Vigilant candidate.
Rodger his grandson writes: ‘Life was hard for working people throughout the industrial and transport revolution, but until I came across his copies of the Railway Vigilant, I had no real idea of how hard it was to be a working railwayman. The way that a member of my family fought so hard, for so long against injustices, helping to improve conditions, wages, education and training. These became so much more ‘real’ for me as I read these documents.’
In his role as a union activist Dick Shaw organised a collection for a strike in 1933 in Northern Ireland, where the railway companies were trying ‘to apply a further reduction in wages’. These cards show the contributions made by his colleagues, showing solidarity with their fellow workers at a time almost certainly of economic hardship for themselves.