Red Clydeside: A history of the labour movement in Glasgow 1910-1932


Female munitions workers in Glasgow, 1915-1918

image from Red Clydeside collection

This photograph shows a group of female munitions workers involved in the production of shell cases in a Glasgow munitions factory during the first world war.

Under the Munitions of War Act of 1915, the government introduced a policy of dilution into munitions factories. The aim was to increase productivity levels and output of munitions by importing into munitions industries unskilled male and female workers.

Dilution was fiercely opposed by skilled workers, who regarded it as an open invitation for employers to substitute cheap labour for time-served skilled workers. The Act was known by Clydeside workers as the 'slavery act'. At the end of the war female workers were displaced from the factories to make way for demobilised soldiers returning from the war.

Source: Gallacher Memorial Library, Glasgow Caledonian University Special Collections and Archives