Trade Unions 1790-1871

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  • Trade Unionism from 1790-1871
    • Trade Societies
      • Tolpuddle Martyrs
        • 1834 - group arrested for swearing allegiance to friendly society
        • Sent to Australia
      • Cotton workers strike in Lancashire in 1810 and 1818 w/ other trades threatened nationwide stoppage
        • ended after 5 members of PH arrested
      • Workers not united still
        • In 1834 in Derby workers were locked out of their mill for 4 months
        • Encouraged use of The Document and knobsticks
    • Friendly Societies
      • Born out of men's social gatherings
      • Groups included "The Buffalos" and "Hearts of Oak" - strong names
      • Initially for supporting widows - later provided insurance, saving, pensions and loans
      • Workers who came together to provide mutual support to make up for lack in gvt
      • 1793 Friendly Societies Act
        • Required societies to register w/ local JPs and set out rules under which they governed themselves
        • Attempt by Tories to halt radical interests
        • However by 1803 8% of the population was a member
      • 1855 Friendly Societies Act
        • Removed rules about registration to JPs - replaced by a central Registrar
        • More supportive of funds and activities
        • Less threatening than TUs.
      • Grew because of industrialisation
    • Cooperative Societies
      • Rochdale Pioneers
        • Founded in 1844 as one of the first cooperative socities
        • Started by 28 skilled workers
        • Visualised a better social order - inspired by New Lanark
        • Membership after 1 year was 74, takings £710
        • A general store to sell honest goods at honest prices
        • Although they struggled economically in the 50s, they survived and bounced back in the 60s
        • Other groups adopted their principles and they spread overseas
        • Some profit given to education
      • New Lanark
        • Bought by Robert Owen (utopian socialist) in 1800
          • Believed state ownership & moderate treatment could eradicate poverty
        • Provided education and moral direction - believed happy workers were better workers
        • Owen campaigned for better working conditions
        • Set up Britain's first infant school in 1816
        • His ideas travelled abroad and inspired other model villages like Saltaire
      • Cooperative movement
        • Grew from 1785
        • Encouraged mutual support for mutual benefit in the workplace
    • New Model Unionism
      • Single craft unions - started with ASE and followed their setup in 1851
        • Preferred not to strike - had more moderate methods winning them middle-class support
        • Created a centralised union w/ subscription fee
      • Government responded more positively to their more moderate attitude
        • Their growth in popularity meant they had to be listened to
        • Relevant to government bc of skilled workers
          • Peel recognised necessity - industrial growth required them
        • Skilled workers enfranchised in 1867 reform act
    • Early Trade Unions
      • Grand National Consolidated Trades Union 1834
        • Estimated to have 1 million members but no official records
        • No membership fee, no strike fund, no influence
        • The Document led to its collapse in 1835 under financial pressure
        • Instilled sense of unity and solidarity
        • President was Robert Owen
      • Philanthropic Hercules 1818 - London, attempted to unite workers from many trades
        • Illegal under comination acts. 5 members arrested
      • Grand General Union of Operative Spinners 1829 aimed to unite local unions - collapsed by 1830
      • Labour Exchange Bazaar
        • Founded in 1832 by Robert Owen
        • Rent was exorbitant for premises
        • Aimed to promote exchange of commodities by giving equal values of labour rather than money
        • Wanted to reward workers fairly
        • Had to move around London lots, eventually ending up in Fitzroy Square.
    • Trades Union Congress & London Trades Council
      • TUC formed in 1868 out of Junta meetings (union leaders like Applegarth, Allan etc)
        • George Potter and William Dronfield (former UKAOT secretary) crucial to its foundation
        • Wanted to eliminate individualism - first attempt at a national union
      • LTC formed out of failure of GNCTU and UKAOT
        • Dominated by Junta leaders
        • Had 100,000 affiliates by 1866 but still not national
        • Started the formation of other trades councils which were by nature individuals
    • Sheffield Outrages 1866
      • Violent actions by saw grinders' union in Sheffield
        • explosions set off, Broadhead (union secretary) paid 2 workmen to murder Linley who wanted to employ cheap apprentices
        • Accused of arson
      • Led to fall of UKAOT, which had represented 200,000 workers
    • Trade Union Acts
      • 1867 Royal Commission
        • Majority & Minority reports drawn up.
        • Liberal gvt legalised trade unions in 1871
      • Combination Acts 1799-1800 (repealed 1824)
        • Made unions illegal - William Pitt
        • Allowed trials before JPs and 3 month sentences to organisers
        • 1820 - economic times improving so gvt could afford to be more liberal
        • Severity lessened in 1800 but remained unpopular
        • Mostly used Unlawful Oaths act
        • Repealed due to unpopularity and inefficiency
      • Master and Servant Act 1823
        • Increased liberalism but sympathies still w/ employers
        • Made breaking of verbal or written contract punishable by prison
          • 1857-1875 - 10,000 prosecutions per year
        • TUs technically legal after repeal of Combinations
          • Gvt wariness remained
        • Harsh punishments used in economically suffering south
          • Agitation manifested already in Swing Riots 1830
      • Unlawful Oaths Act 1797
        • Often used instead of the combination acts because it held harsher punishments
        • Used to prosecute Tolpuddle Martyrs

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