Chapter 9 – Dealing with the challenges of a declining baking industry

by Jason Lever

Posted on Sun, 01 Dec 2013 17:13:02 GMT

Tougher market conditions from the 1920s

Household consumption of bread had fallen steadily as families became smaller and alternative foods cheaper. The “New Survey of London Life and Labour” (1933) by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) concluded that the ‘small Jewish section of the industry’ had particular difficulties. The Jewish baker had longer hours, including unpopular night work, which contributed to labour shortages.

Slipping from their dry economic analysis, these LSE researchers described how the characteristic cholla was a ‘peculiarly good quality bread baked in special patterns…[which] demands a higher degree of skill than the ordinary English loaf’ and a longer baking time.

At the same time, assimilation and population spread across London added to the decline of the Jewish baking industry. In 1933 there were just 50 Jewish master bakers (members of the Jewish Master Bakers Protection Society) and about 90 skilled operatives (organised in the London Jewish Bakers Union). The Union is described as ‘a union small but powerful in the sense that nearly every Jewish baker belongs to it’ (ref: LSE).

Forty years earlier, in the 1890s, the London Jewish Master Bakers Protection Society acted to defend themselves in the courts against the terms of the 17th century Bread Act. This legislation prohibited baking on Sundays. The Society won the case on the grounds that later Factory and Workshop Acts allowed Jews who did not work on a Saturday some limited Sunday working rights (ref: Black E).

The socialist credentials of the London Jewish Bakers Union was illustrated by the unique system of “jobbing” (or called the “credential system”). As a response to the economic depression, instead of paying unemployment benefit like other unions, it required each member to stay away from work at regular intervals (such as a day a month) with his place taken by an unemployed member at the same, regular rates (ref: LSE).

In an American parallel, part of the resolution of the 1909 bakers’ strike in New York on the Lower East Side was that bosses allowed their workers to give one night’s work to unemployed bakers (ref: Balinska).

Jewish-Unions Declining-Baking-Industry Jewish-Bakers Jewish-Socialist-Movement

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Chapter 1 - Introducing Solomon Lever and his l...Chapter 2 - The Jewish East EndChapter 3 - A family history of Solomon LeverChapter 4 - A Jewish East End education for Sol...Chapter 5 - Joining East End cultural and commu...Chapter 6 - Solomon as a cabinet makerChapter 7 – From cabinet maker to trade union g...Chapter 8 – Rise of the London Jewish Bakers UnionChapter 9 – Dealing with the challenges of a de...Chapter 10 – Solomon’s journey to Jewish trade ...Chapter 11 – Interlude of anarchism’s appeal to...Chapter 12 – Solomon Lever finds his home in th...Chapter 13 – The Liberal and Conservative partiesChapter 14 – The Labour Party consolidates its ...Chapter 15 – The appeal of East End councils’ s...Chapter 16 – The rise and fall of communist sup...Chapter 17 – Surging Labourism after the warChapter 18 – The Labour Party’s support for Zio...Chapter 19 – Short-lived Labour-Zionist honeymoonChapter 20 – Solomon Lever’s 1947 broadcast spe...Chapter 21 – Solomon Lever’s 1948 speech from t...Chapter 22 – Solomon Lever’s 1954 speech from t...Chapter 23 – Solomon Lever’s final TUC speech i...Chapter 24 – His Worshipful The Mayor and Mayor...Chapter 25 – Family connections in the Mayor’s ...Chapter 26 – Important social issues raised wit...Chapter 27 – The adbuction of Solomon LeverChapter 28 – Discovery of Solomon’s bodyChapter 29 – InquestChapter 30 – The death of Solomon LeverChapter 31 – Solomon’s funeral and obituaryChapter 32 – The death knell of the London Jewi...Chapter 33 – An appraisalChapter 34 – Bibliography