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 strong 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 variation he has further a bankruptcy "On the shielding: the 1980s". the writer additionally wrote "The Origins of the Labour Party".

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The London builders' struggle also precipitated the formation of the London Trades Council, which was set on foot at a conference called by the builders' strike committee in May x86o. For the previous dozen years there had been occasional meetings of 'the Metropolitan Trades Delegates' at the Bell Inn, Old Bailey, to consider matters of interest to all London unionists. Now there was to be a permanent body to act as a medium for mutual help and guidance among London unionists, and to counter the influence of propaganda hostile to unionism.

The full-time secretaries of the latter formed a group which dominated the London Trades Council in its early days, and could claim in some sense at least to be representative of national union opinion.

By March 183 1 the strike had failed, and the Grand General Union of Operative Spinners had broken up. , it was seriously weakened, and its reputation also suffered when its secretary absconded with £Ioo, which was the great bulk of the remaining funds. , had been formed at Leeds, probably in 1831. We do not know very much about this body; there seems to have been an element of secrecy about it, no doubt owing to the bitter hostility that it encountered from the employers. In the summer of 1833, for example, one Leeds master dyer discharged all of his employees whom he knew to be unionists; and later that year a number of employers in the same area drew up a 'Bond' whereby each of them pledged himself not to employ any members of a union.

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