A History of British Trade Unionism by Henry Pelling

By Henry Pelling

The writer leads the reader via a narrative of fight and improvement protecting greater than 4 centuries: from the medieval guilds and early craftsmen's and labourers' institutions to the dramatic development of alternate unionism in Britain within the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He exhibits how robust personalities similar to Robert Applegarth, Henry Broadhurst, Tom Mann, Ernest Bevin and Walter Citrine have helped to form the trend of present-day unionism, and for this version he has further a bankruptcy "On the protective: the 1980s". the writer additionally wrote "The Origins of the Labour Party".

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By far the most impressive support came from the Amalgamated Engineers, which made three separate donations of £rooo each- an unheard of sum for any one organisation to afford. The money that was raised enabled the strikers to carry on their struggle, and eventually in February 186o, after they had been out for six months, they came to a compromise with their employers. The ninehour issue was dropped, and so was 'the document'. The struggle of 185g-6o had a great effect on the leaders of the small societies in London and elsewhere.

But 'Potterville', as it was called, was never a success, partly because the machinery scare proved to be a false alarm. Other unions had their own schemes, normally much more modest than this one; and the Carpenters put the encouragement of emigration high among their objects, describing it as the 'natural outlet' for 'surplus labourers and mechanics' produced by the 'prolific character of the Anglo-Saxon race'. Yet in spite of the growth of population and the apparently permanent existence of an unemployment problem, the standard of living of the artisans continued to improve.

The employers, working in concert, locked out their tradesmen when they refused to accept an increase in the number of unskilled men in the shops. The union was strongly criticised for its attitude by the press, and particularly by The Times, and not even the levies on men still at work, amounting to over £12,ooo, nor the generous donations from individuals and from other societies, totalling almost as much again, could save it from defeat. The employers forced their men to sign 'the document' ; and the membership of the Amalgamated Engineers slumped far below its peak figure of 1851.

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