The General Strike began at one minute to midnight on May 3, 1926.The Trade Union Congress adopted the following plan of action. To begin with they would bring out workers in the key industries – railwaymen, transport workers, dockers, printers, builders, iron and steel workers – a total of 3 million men (a fifth of the adult male population). Only later would other trade unionists, like the engineers and shipyard workers, be called out on strike.

During the strike the government struggled and did whatever it could to keep the country moving and used (mainly middle-class) volunteer workers to maintain a basic services like the railways.

On the 7th May, Sir Herbert Samuel, Chairman of the Royal Commission on the Coal Industry, approached the Trade Union Congress and offered to help bring the strike to an end. Without telling the miners, the TUC negotiating committee met Samuel and worked out a set of proposals to end the General Strike. These included: (1) a National Wages Board with an independent chairman; (2) a minimum wage for all colliery workers; (3) workers displaced by pit closures to be given alternative employment; (4) the wages subsidy to be renewed while negotiations continued.