How did New Model Unionism promote working-class interests 1850 - 70?

  • Created by: becky.65
  • Created on: 30-03-18 14:05

1850 - trade unionists had been well educated and a new model of unionism emerged

1851 - Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE) established

This organisation was created by the binding together of three smaller independent unions - the Old Mechanics, the Steam Engine Makers' Society and the General Smiths - and heralded a 'New Model Unionism' (negotiation rather than militancy to achieve their aims)

The creation of the ASE was a reaction to:

  • industrialisation
  • the growth in unskilled labour which in the eyes of skilled workers was drowning industry and dragging down wages
  • reassert and protect the rights of skilled labour

This enhanced the trade union movement by offering a greater sense of direction, but also created a divide among the workers; those working in semi-skilled or unskilled professions were left to fend for themselves

The growth of NMU created an 'aristocracy of labour' which encouraged lingering resentments and suspicion among other workers who felt their interests were not being as well considered

The ASE, under the direction of its general secretary, William Allan, adopted a rigid adminstrative system:

  • an elected Executive Council was formally in charge
  • the paid general secretary managed the day-to-day affairs of the union and the co-ordination of the local branches
  • the obligation of membership was a tax levied on its members to secure a strike pay and as the skilled working men were in a better financial position this generated substantial sums of money
  • 1852 - £12,000 in the strike fund

With such funds, the union became the most prominent in the country and was able to support other unions in their battle for employment rights

1859/60 - London builders were out on strike seeking a reduction to a nine-hour day; ASE contributed three separate donations of £1,000 to their strike fund which enabled them to hold out for six months and forced a compromise from their employers

This action informed the future of British trade unionism because it encouraged other unions to consider why the ASE was so successful and inspired a reappraisal of the traditional localised, industry-sepecific model

ASE was fundamentally important because it was able to break the belief in localised unions

1851 - ASE had 12,000 members as it formed on a national scale within its specific industry; headquarters in London and branches stretching from Lancashire to Scotland it was the first national trade union

1860 - this broader union base was adopted by the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners

This new and successful way of organising trade unions allowed it to compete more effectively with employers

The basis of this success lay in:

  • the national structure of the union
  • the manner in which it conducted itself; promoted a more moderate and prudent philosophy
  • for Allen, respectability was the way to achieve their goals using rational negotiation and their strength in numbers

This was a successful method due to:

  • the rapidly…


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