British Trade Unions 1875–1933 by John Lovell

By John Lovell

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Attribute this decline to the relatively successful operation of the collective bargaining procedures that had been set up in these industries during the 1890s, following a series of severe stoppages [19 :362]. More generally, these authors point to the willingness of the rnajority of organised employers to work with the 32 unions, and cite the example of the building industry where the employers strengthened and extended the system of collective bargaining [19 :363]. Thus, while Taff Vale may not have been without effect, there appear to have been more positive influences making for industrial peace.

The massive solidarity displayed by the strikers during the 1926 General Strike provides the best evidence as to the effective strength of British trade unionism. Turning aside from the question of the General Strike's significance, and examining the period 1920-33 as a whole, it must be said that it was in many respects a barren one so far as the development of trade unionism and industrial relations were concerned. C. reorganisation - had their origins in the previous period, and in any case the more general attempts to rationalise the structure of the union movement ended in deadlock in 1927 [42 :99-101].

Had the making of a trade union bureaucracy akin to the civil service. By comparative standards its scale was small, but it was sufficient to have an impact on the nature and effectiveness of trade union action. Within the limits of trade union traditions and practices, the decisions of the General Council came more and more to be based on information supplied by specialists.... C. was able to accumulate authority amongst trade unions which had no constitutional basis but which was derived from its knowledge and integrity.

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