Taff Vale Decision, 1901

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The significant part industrial relations now played in British politics was evident in this landmark case. In June 1900, the employees of the Taff Vale Railway Company in South Wales went on strike with the full backing and financial aid of their union, the Associated Society of Railway Servants (ASRS). The Company tried to break the strike by bringing in non-union labour and by taking the ASRS to court for illegal picketing*. The tactics worked and the strikers relunctantly returned to work with nothing gained.

Boosed by its victory, the Company again took the union to court, claiming damages for the financial losses cause by the strike. The first court hearing went in favour of the Company, but on appeal by the ASRS, a higher court reversed this decision in November 1900. The Taff Vale Railway Company was not prepared to give up. It presented its case to the House of Lords, the highest legal authority…

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