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


Organisation that counteracts the strike evil, 12 May 1926

Safeguarding the nations food and transport

image from Red Clydeside collection

In anticipation of a nationwide General Strike the government gave its approval to the setting up of the Organisation for the Maintenance of Supplies (OMS). This organisation was to be responsible for supplying and coordinating blackleg workers in order that essential services were maintained during the strike. The OMS was able to assemble over 100,000 volunteers during the nine days of the strike, including providing printing staff to produce The British Gazette, the governments anti-strike newspaper edited by Winston Churchill.

Blacklegs were trained to drive locomotives in the private railways of large factories at weekends and potential scabs instructed in the operation of telephones and telegraphy. The country was placed on a war footing by dividing it into ten areas, each under a Civil Commissioner, and a civil service organisation was set up in each of these areas. Great numbers of special constables were enrolled and mobile squads of police organised. Every possible preparation was made and the Commissioners and their officers stood ready for the signal.

The OMS, although officially not a part of the government, was headed by a former Viceroy to India, Lord Hardinge of Penshurst, and contained many other well-known imperialists, along with the President and Vice President of the British Fascist Organisation. The day to day activities of the OMS were managed by Sir George Makgill who also ran the Industrial Intelligence Board (IIB), a very secret intelligence service funded by big business. The IIB had strong links with Special Branch, MI5 and Britain's first fascist party - the British Fascists (BF) - which was founded in 1923.

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