This film is part of Free

Happy Result

Back to the coal face: miners, mine owners and government agree to split the difference in a dispute over working hours.

Non-Fiction 1930 4 mins Silent


How long would you like to spend a mile underground with a pick and shovel? Does a guarantee of being asked to work no more than 90 hours per fortnight seem fair? These were the issues that miners, mine owners and the government were trying to resolve in the midst of a global economic crisis and with the memory of the General Strike of 1926 still firmly in mind. The Topical Budget newsreel reported on the result.

By 1919 the miners' working day had been reduced to 7 hours, but the General Strike had ironically pushed it back up to 8. A drop in miners' work time had been a promise of the newly elected Labour Government in 1929, but the economic crash of the same year had thrown a spanner in the works. The Coal Mines Act of 1930 included a compromise of a staggered drop to 7 1/2 hours, but with a proviso that longer days might be required as long as it was not more than 90 (!) hours per fortnight. It was this "spreadover" that had not been agreed despite months of discussions as the Act came into effect on the 1st December. Somewhat unexpectedly the sides found themselves on the brink of a strike ballot. As this film shows, the crisis was resolved with a "happy result" - for some more than others.