A History of British Trade Unionism by Henry Pelling

By Henry Pelling

The writer leads the reader via a narrative of fight and improvement overlaying greater than 4 centuries: from the medieval guilds and early craftsmen's and labourers' institutions to the dramatic development of exchange unionism in Britain within the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He indicates how robust personalities akin 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 additional a bankruptcy "On the protective: the 1980s". the writer additionally wrote "The Origins of the Labour Party".

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I It was difficult, of course, not only to win respect for decisions made so remotely, but also to secure the efficient conduct of business by local branches, so that central records and statistics could be properly kept. That the necessary discipline was successfully imposed seems all the more remarkable when we realise that Delegate Meetings were rarely held - only twice in the years between I 854 and 1874. The smooth running of the central office in this period forms a notable tribute to the efficiency of William Allan, who conducted it for the most part without any full-time assistance, although during the strike of 1852 he engaged an office-boy at 6s.

The box would be secured by a number of locks, usually three, each with a different key. Only one of the keys would be held by the landlord : the others would be held by officers of the society. Membership of artisans' clubs was normally restricted to men who had served the seven years' apprenticeship which was still required in many trades: and the indenture might have to be produced for authentication before a man could join. In trades where apprenticeship had died out, or was dying, obviously this condition did not apply ; but some other condition concerning length of work at the trade might be substituted for it, so that the club could maintain a degree of limitation upon membership.

The 'Grand National' grew with great rapidity, and may have temporarily numbered as many as half a million members ; but only a tiny proportion of these ever paid any fees to its headquarters, so the figures have little real significance. At least there appears to have been some widening of the boundaries of combination at this time, to include previously unorganised groups such as agricultural labourers and even a few women such as those who joined the 'Lodge of Female Tailors'. Within each trade, the local clubs were to be organised nationally under a 'Grand Lodge' : and the naive enthusiasm with which many such clubs joined in the movement is well illustrated by an account which we have of the behaviour of the N antwich shoemakers : After paying entrance fees our society had about forty pounds to spare, and not knowing what better to do with it we engaged Mr.

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