Streic Cyffredinol 1926: Stori’r Dyn Rheilffordd – Daliwch Eich Tir, Rhaid i Ni Ennill

Cafodd cymdeithas Prydain ei hysgwyd gan Streic Cyffredinol a barodd naw diwrnod ym mis Mai 1926 wrth i 1.5 miliwn o weithwyr ledled y wlad wneud safiad. I lawer yn yr undebau llafur, roedd yn weithred syml o gadernid gyda’r glowyr a oedd wedi gweld eu cyflogau a’u telerau ac amodau gwaith yn gwaethygu’n gyson dros y blynyddoedd yn dilyn diwedd yr Ail Ryfel Byd. Yn wir, roedd cyflog y glowyr wedi gostwng bron i draean erbyn 1926 o gymharu â 1919. Arweiniodd cynigion i leihau cyflogau a chynyddu oriau gwaith ymhellach at ymateb enwog Ffederasiwn Glowyr Prydain Fawr: ‘Not a penny off the wages and not a minute on the day’. Cafwyd ymateb unfrydol gadarnhaol ymysg yr undebau a’u haelodau i benderfyniad y TUC ym mis Mai 1926 i annog y gweithwyr trafnidiaeth, yr argraffwyr a’r gweithwyr haearn a dur i sefyll ochr yn ochr â’u cyfoedion yn y pyllau glo.

I eraill, roedd penderfyniad y TUC yn cynrychioli Streic Cyffredinol, ac yn her i lywodraeth gyfansoddiadol. Gyda syfrdandod y gwrthryfel Bolsieficaidd yn Rwsia yn fyw yn y cof, galwodd y Prif Weinidog, Stanley Baldwin, y streic yn ‘her i San Steffan’ ac yn ‘llwybr at anarchiaeth ac adfail’ [The British Gazette, 6 Mai 1926]. Cyn i’r streic gael ei gyhoeddi, roedd y Llywodraeth wedi paratoi i sicrhau parhad gwasanaethau allweddol ledled y wlad, i’w rhedeg ym mhob ardal gan Gomisiynydd Sifil a benodwyd yn ganolog. Yn Ne Cymru, penodwyd Iarll Clarendon ar 2 Mai 1926 yn Adeilad Dominions yng Nghaerdydd i weithio gyda’r awdurdodau lleol i gynnal cyfraith a threfn, trafnidiaeth a chyflenwadau bwyd. Cafodd hefyd fanteisio ar gangen leol y Pwyllgor Gwasanaeth Gwirfoddol i recriwtio dynion a menywod lleol i gadw’r dociau a’r gwasanaethau trafnidiaeth lleol i weithredu ac, yn ôl yr angen, i roi hwb i’r heddlu. I gyd, recriwtiodd y Pwyllgorau Gwasanaeth Gwirfoddol dros 12,000 o wirfoddolwyr yn Ne Cymru. Defnyddiwyd nifer fach o ddynion i gynnig gwasanaeth sylfaenol ar y rheilffyrdd ac yn y dociau. Roedd effaith y gwirfoddolwyr yn fwyaf amlwg yn yr ardaloedd trefol, yn arbennig yng Nghaerdydd, lle cawsant eu defnyddio i redeg gwasanaethau tram a bws. Er bod y TUC wedi annog aelodau i osgoi gwrthdaro, roedd y Llywodraeth yn benderfynol o sicrhau bod gwasanaethau hanfodol ar gael, a gosododd filwyr yn y rhan fwyaf o ddinasoedd a threfi a llongau’r llynges mewn porthladdoedd allweddol.

Mae gan Archifau Morgannwg ddeunydd sy’n adrodd stori’r Streic Cyffredinol yn Ne Cymru o safbwynt yr undebau, gwirfoddolwyr lleol a’r rheini a redodd y Pwyllgorau Gwasanaeth Gwrifoddol. Mae pethau fel cofnodlyfrau ysgolion hefyd yn adrodd yr effaith ar gymunedau lleol. Mae’r stori isod yn un o gyfres o straeon sydd i’w gweld ymysg y deunydd hwn. Cafodd ei hysgrifennu gan Trevor Vaughan, gweithiwr rheilffordd a swyddog undeb llafur yn Aberdâr ym 1926 [cyf.: D/DX196/2].

Stori’r Dyn Rheilffordd

Roedd Trevor Vaughan yn 26 oed ar adeg y Streic Cyffredinol. Roedd yn glerc i Feistr yr Orsaf yng Ngorsaf Lefel Uchel Aberdâr ac yn swyddog yng Nghymdeithas y Clercod Rheilffordd. Roedd yn dod o deulu â hanes hir o weithredu gyda’r undebau llafur.

There was a good Trade Union tradition in our family. My Father was on the GWR and for many years a signalman in the Aberdare Box and a member of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants (later the National Union of Railwaymen). My grandfather on my Mother’s side was a driver on the Taff Vale Railway. The first minute book of a branch of the ASRS in Aberdare includes his name as a Committee member. He died in 1894 at 52 years. Four of his sons – my Mother’s brothers – were Engine Drivers.

Roedd yr RCA yn anarferol – roedd yn un o’r nifer fach o undebau ‘cot ddu’ a oedd yn gysylltiedig â’r TUC ym 1926. Roedd Trevor Vaughan yn cynrychioli’r RCA ar Gyngor Masnach a Llafur Aberdâr ac, felly, cafodd ei gyfethol i bwyllgorau undeb allweddol i gyfarwyddo’r streic yng Nghwm Aberdâr. Fel y rhan fwyaf o aelodau undeb yng nghymoedd De Cymru, ni oedodd cyn ymateb i’r galw i streicio i gefnogi’r glowyr.

In the Aberdare Valley when a call came for strike to support the Miners – irrespective of party or religion – there was a spontaneity in the response from the whole community. We were not only comrades in the Trade Union Movement but fellow members of the chapels and churches, clubs, sport and Friendly Societies. Most of my school friends and boys I played with in our street went underground. They usually wore their white duck trousers in the street the night before they went “under” – often with their fathers. It was an emotional appeal. I doubt whether half a dozen of my members who were out on strike had ever voted “Labour”. That nine days revealed to me that there was a Working Class and I was a member of it.

Fel un o’r swyddogion prin a allai deipio, lluniodd Trevor lawer o’r negeseuon a basiwyd rhwng y pwyllgorau streic lleol yn ystod y 9 diwrnod – ‘Aberdare Solid’, ‘Stand Firm’ a ‘We Must Win’. Hefyd, roedd ganddo brofiad o siarad yn gyhoeddus fel pregethwr lleyg – talent a ddefnyddiodd yn effeithiol yn ystod y streic. Fodd bynnag, nid oedd ei rôl heb risg. Yn ei gyfarfod cyhoeddus cyntaf yn Aberdâr, rhannodd lwyfan gyda Max Goldberg, dyn tân ar y trenau, aelod o’r NUR, a chomiwnydd adnabyddus.

As a local preacher I stressed the Christian Brotherhood of Man and the sanctity of human personality. Max the Communist made the point “Here is the power on one side – the workers on the other – in between the Army, only the control of the army will get power”.

Cafodd Max a dau arall eu harestio yn dilyn y digwyddiad. Cafodd Max Goldberg ei ddedfrydu i ddeufis o lafur caled a, phan gafodd ei ryddhau o’r carchar, gwrthodwyd ei gais am waith gan Great Western Railway.

Trevor Vaughan hefyd oedd y gŵr a lwyddodd i berswadio gwrthwynebwyr y streic i gydymffurfio â’r mwyafrif.

We had a few non-union blacklegs in our railway salaried service and even among those members who came out on strike, hardly one or two voting labour. I used to chase these blacklegs when they went to and from the office. One morning, before I was out of bed, my mother brought me a telegram. It read “come at ten – Hirwaun Joint”. I got on the back of a motor bike and when I arrived I was told that one of our members was working. He was Harry Morgan, Chief Clerk in the Goods Office at Hirwaun Station. I was almost instructed to “get him out”. Of course, I knew him well personally and had worked with him in the Aberdare Booking Office. I agreed to go around to his house. As I moved off I found half a dozen members of the Joint Committee accompanying me. This caused me some concern and at the end of the street I persuaded them to wait there until I came back. “Tiny” Morgan, as we knew him (he was very fat) was at home nursing the baby in a shawl Welsh fashion. I knew his wife was solid labour and would be on my side (it was usually the other way about). Both of us “had a go” at him, Mrs Morgan urging him to “go with Trevor”. Finally he agreed to meet me in the strike committee in Aberdare the following day. The strike ended a couple of days after and I was not sure whether he came out or not.

Roedd penderfyniadau anodd i’w gwneud wrth ddelio â’r bobl hyn.

One difficult personal problem I had to deal with concerned the Chief Clerk at Aberdare High Level station, a close colleague of mine. To come out on strike in his eyes was tantamount to a Marxist Revolution, but he actually came out in loyalty to me. His wife, she had been brought up in a village outside Abergavenny, was under great strain with her husband on strike. He told me one day that he was very worried as his wife was not sleeping and that she was pregnant. I told him I could not take the responsibility of the consequences to his expectant wife and agreed for him to report for work and I would explain the circumstances.

Wrth i’r streic symud i mewn i’w ail wythnos, roedd y gefnogaeth yn gadarn ledled de Cymru. Felly, syfrdanwyd Trevor a’i gydweithwyr o glywed, ar nawfed diwrnod y streic, fod y TUC wedi gofyn i rai undebau (y rhai nad oeddent yn gysylltiedig â chloddio) ddychwelyd i’r gwaith. Roeddent yn siŵr fod y Llywodraeth wedi cytuno i’r telerau a fynnwyd gan yr undebau. Yn benodol, honnodd y TUC ei fod wedi sicrhau telerau derbyniol ar gyfer ailagor trafodaethau i setlo gwrthdaro’r glo. Fodd bynnag, daeth yn amlwg yn hwyrach yn y dydd, a dros yr wythnos nesaf, fod y TUC wedi methu â sicrhau unrhyw gonsesiynau cadarn gan y Llywodraeth na pherchnogion y pyllau. Mae’n bosib i’r bygythiad o gamau cyfreithiol yn erbyn yr undebau ddylanwadu ar y penderfyniad. Fodd bynnag, roedd amheuaeth fod y TUC, yn wyneb penderfynoldeb y Llywodraeth i gynnal gwasanaethau hanfodol, yn ofni na fyddai mynd â’r streic ymhellach, ar 12 Mai, yn gwneud unrhyw beth ond cynyddu’r posibilrwydd o wrthdaro gyda’r awdurdodau.

Heb unrhyw fudd i’r glowyr na sicrwydd y byddai’r streicwyr yn cael eu swyddi’n ôl gan eu cyflogwyr, roedd penderfyniad y TUC yn ergyd fawr.

In spite of all the confident fighting speeches and high morale among the rank and file, the whole thing collapsed on the Friday night. There was a packed meeting of railwaymen in the Memorial Hall and the Aberdare Leader reported “Local Railwaymen decided at the Memorial Hall, Aberdare on Friday evening to accept the recommendation of the Union Executives and to return to work that there should be no penalties or victimisation”. In fact, there were no guarantees and many of my colleagues did not go back for months. With no coal coming from the pits, the railway company in South Wales had no work for many clerks. One young Clerk had only been on the railway a month but came out on strike but never got his job back.

Roedd cadernid cenedlaethol mewn darnau, a bu undebau unigol, ar lefel leol, yn trafod a thrafod i geisio sicrhau gwaith i’w haelodau.

A meeting of the three railway unions was called in the Memorial Hall and a deputation representing the three unions was chosen to visit the various departments at the Aberdare Station to meet local Officials and to indicate we were available for work. As we proceeded towards the station we began to realise that it was a “cap in hand” affair. To quote the words of Aneurin Bevan in another context, as we approached the Officials we felt “naked”. We called in the Station Master’s Office (the office where I normally worked) and visited the Engineering and Goods Departments. We received a respectful reception from each Officer. We then moved over to the Loco Sheds where several hundred staff were employed as trainmen, fitters etc. The spokesman at the Loco was Ben Brace (ASLF) a very prominent member of his union nationally – a JP and Town Councillor. As we passed the office window we could see Mr Burgess, the Loco Foreman and one of his Shift Foremen the only two at the Depot not on strike. When we got to the office door we knocked and tried the knob – it was locked. We had no choice but to make our way into the engine shed and approach the glass partition where men booked on duty.

Mr Burgess and Fred Hussey came to the inside window and as the glass shutter had not been opened for nine days it was stuck and Fred Hussey broke the glass in opening it. The tension was electric! Ben Brace’s face was livid. To be humiliated in the presence of the other departments where we had had a respectful reception. Ben said “I thought you would have the courtesy to receive us in your office.” Burgess replied “We can do our business here, Ben”. Ben had to say that he was speaking on behalf of the Unions and that we were available to resume duty. Burgess replied “we will let you know when we want you,” and there the interview ended. It was absolute humiliation for men who had given their life time to the Company and we could do nothing whatever about it but walk away.

Collodd dynion eu swyddi ledled y wlad, a chafodd eraill eu gorfodi i weithio llai o oriau wrth i gyflogwyr achub ar y cyfle i leihau niferoedd ac, mewn sawl achos, i gadw’r rheini a gyflogwyd mewn ymateb i’r streic. Roedd Trevor Vaughan yn un o’r rhai lwcus, a dychwelodd i weithio ar y rheilffordd yn Aberdâr.

Mr James, the Station Master, (we were good friends) called me back to the offices on Saturday morning and assured me that he had not done any of my work. Back on duty I had to compile a list for the Divisional Superintendent of the names of the “loyal” staff and those on strike. In the first column was one name “Mr James.” For the second column I just copied out the pay bill – about 120 names including my own together with Clerks, Inspectors, Signalmen, Guards, Shunters, Ticket Collectors, Porters etc.

And so ended nine days in which I experienced the “Baptism of Fire”.

Ond nid dyna’r diwedd i Trevor Vaughan ac eraill.

Involvement in the General Strike in a town like Aberdare was an emotional experience and it would be difficult to assess the influence it had on my personality. It brought me into close contact and intimate relationship with outstanding Independent Labour Party stalwarts who had suffered severe victimisation throughout the lives. Men of high integrity and intellectual quality. Everything in life that matters seemed to be at stake during that nine days. During my 45 years on the railway it was the only occasion when I knew what it was to be “out of work.” Along with thousands of my fellow workers in my home town I was facing reality something akin to the comradeship of the trenches in Flanders during the First World War.

Roedd y streic wedi methu, ac i bwysleisio’r pwynt, gweithredodd y Llywodraeth ddeddfwriaeth i wahardd streiciau sympathetig. Cafodd y gweithwyr eu cau allan drwy gydol yr haf a’r hydref cyn iddynt orfod ildio a dychwelyd i’r gwaith, lle’r oedd gwaith ar gael, neu weithio ar delerau ac amodau gwaeth. Fel y nododd Trevor Vaughan:

It is difficult to believe that such a demonstration of solidarity among the working class – supported by the whole community as far as Aberdare was concerned – should suffer utter collapse.

Fodd bynnag, gwnaeth digwyddiadau Mai 1926 argraff fawr ar lawer o ddynion a menywod ym mhob cwr o’r wlad. Roedd gweithredu uniongyrchol wedi methu ond roedd ffyrdd eraill o herio’r drefn ac ymladd dros amodau gwaith gwell. Ym 1932 enwebwyd Trevor Vaughan yn ymgeisydd Llafur dros Gyngor Dosbarth Trefol Aberdâr, ac enillodd y sedd ar ei ail ymgais y flwyddyn wedyn. Bu’n ymwneud â’r llywodraeth leol am amser hir, gan wasanaethu fel Maer Casnewydd ym 1963, a chafodd CBE ym 1967. Gan edrych yn ôl ar y digwyddiadau ym 1926, daeth i’r casgliad canlynol:

There is no doubt that my involvement in the General Strike 1926 had a profound influence on the direction I was to travel in the years to come and the causes to which I would give the major portion of my life and energies.

Tony Peters, Gwirfoddolydd Archifau Morgannwg

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