Labour History Review

'A whirling vortex of women': The Strikes of Scots Herring Women in East Anglia in the 1930s and 1940s

Labour History Review (2010), 75, (2), 181–207.

Abstract

This article examines a series of little-documented strikes of Scots herring women in East Anglia in the 1930s and 1940s. It shows how the crisis of the herring-fishing industry impacted upon the traditional hiring practices and remuneration of the women, and how the women responded in a militant fashion in defence of their customary practices. The distinctive socioeconomic, ethnic, and cultural features of this transient all-female workforce are highlighted, and related to the informal and unofficial forms of industrial action that the herring women pursued. It is argued that these strikes have remained largely 'hidden from history', because they do not fit easily into the dominant interpretations of the history of trade unions and industrial relations of the period.

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Author details

Davies, Sam