By W. Hamish Fraser
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Additional resources for A History of British Trade Unionism, 1700-1998
Although the Justices agreed that there had been fraud they would not let the union proceed because it was a body with an illegal purpose, with rules that were ‘in restraint of trade’ – providing the means for members to strike, obstructing the employment of non-union members, forbidding piecework. 20 The greatest threat from these judgments was to the larger societies which had registered under the 1855 Act and, given the size of funds which some of them now had, a restoration of protection was clearly essential.
This may be accounted for through the power, in the shape of men and money, which the large societies have at their command, and which never fail to be appreciated by the employers, whenever the contending parties confront each other. 14 Such arguments did not appeal to many of the smaller societies which had stayed out of earlier amalgamations. George Potter of the Progressive Carpenters and manager of the recently launched Bee-Hive newspaper, emerged as the leading spokesman of these smaller societies on the Trades Council.
But in 1869 a rift occurred with the Lancashire miners, led by Thomas Halliday, breaking away to form a more centralised Amalgamated Association of Miners, which was intent on pursuing a more aggressive industrial policy. The Lancashire cotton mill workers were organised mainly in local societies. There were frequent efforts to link them, but the relatively loose federations which were created generally failed to survive for very long. An Association of Operative Cotton Spinners, Twiners and Self-Acting Minders was formed in 1842, which sought to unite both hand-mule spinners and self-acting mule minders, but it faded after 1857 when the big areas of Bolton and Oldham withdrew.