As they sang the words of this noble chorus the Tories seemed to become inspired with lofty enthusiasm. It is of course impossible to say for certain, but probably as they sang there arose before their exalted imagination, a vision of the Past, and looking down the long vista of years that were gone, they saw that from their childhood they had been years of poverty and joyless toil. They saw their fathers and mothers, wearied and broken with privation and excessive labour, sinking unhonoured into the welcome oblivion of the grave. Robert Tressell, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist
What the laborer wanted was to work as pleasantly as possible, with rests, and above all, carelessly and heedlessly, without thinking ... All they wanted was to work merrily and carelessly, and his interests were not only remote and incomprehensible to them, but fatally opposed to their most just claims. Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
The common law has traditionally been hostile to the collective self-organisation of workers, and it is only by means of statutory intervention, in the form of ‘immunities’ from common law liability, that a space has been created within which trade unions, in particular, may operate lawfully for the purposes of collective bargaining and activities associated with it, such as the conduct of industrial action and the regulation of particular trades and occupations. Simon Deakin & Gillian S Morris, Labour Law
It was not until the ‘legislative settlement’ of the 1870s that legislation lifted the threat of criminal sanctions from all but violent forms of behaviour associated with industrial action ... but the process was not completed until the trade dispute formula was extended to cover tortious liability by the Trade Disputes Act 1906. ibid.
Judicial intervention reached that point at which trade unions were regarded as akin to public or statutory bodies whose decision-making powers were subject to judicial review on grounds of ultra vires. ibid.
After the war, the Wages Councils Act 1945 was the occasion both for the expansion of the trade boards sectors into the service sector, and for a more general attempt to place institutional wage determination on a secure footing. ibid.
It was only with the advent of employment protection legislation in the 1960s and 1970s that the industrial contract of employment came to assume the importance which it has in the modern law. ibid.
The Labour government of 1964-70 took more direct powers in the area of pay restraint. ibid.
The Labour government of 1974-1979, in common with its immediate predecessors, failed to reconcile the tension between the traditional forms of state support for voluntary collective bargaining and increasing intervention in the economy through incomes policies. ibid.
A number of means, direct and indirect, were used to undermine national bargaining. ibid.
The narrowing of immunities and the ending of the blanket immunity of trade unions from liability in tort provided employers with many more strategic options than they had previously had for breaking strike resistance, and these were put to effective use in particular disputes, such as the Wapping and Messenger disputes in the newspaper printing industry. ibid.
The capacity of the UK economy to maintain full employment has been steadily declining throughout the post-war period. ibid.
40th anniversary of the Great GM Sit-Down Strike: ‘… faced the buckshot, faced the teargas, this armband still has the teargas on it. The Women’s Emergency Brigade of Flint, Michigan made American history …’ With Banners & Babies: Story of the Women’s Emergency Brigade, conference speaker, 1979
We were the pioneers of the labour movement. ibid. striker
The more you produced, the more likely you would keep your job. ibid.
The foremen were using the girls and holding it over their heads that if they didn’t do what they wanted to do, they wouldn’t have a job. ibid.
That’s all we had in Flint, Michigan – churches and bars. ibid.
We met in a little coalshed. ibid.
They would have done anything to turn one against the other. ibid.
That’s when we decided to form the Women’s Auxiliary. ibid.
General Motors’ goons – our lives were in danger – they actually prepared with guns. ibid.
First they turned the heat off on ’em, then they turned the water off on ’em. ibid.
The victory was won and the UAW was born. ibid.
‘My father … was a skilled roofer and he was a union man, and he said, If you go to work and there’s a union, join it, no matter what kind it is. Any union is better than none, and if there isn’t one, organise one.’ Union Maids, 1976
This is the story of three women who were part of the rank and file labor movement during the tumultuous 1930s. Their lives were like many other young working women. But all three rose to the demands of their time and became militant organizers for their class. ibid. caption
‘People took what ever little work they could get … Hoover told us that prosperity was just around the corner.’ ibid.
‘The whites and blacks did different kinds of work and made different kinds of pay also.’ ibid.
By the mid-1930s workers saw they could not make gains without the strength of a union. But the American Federation of Labor refused to organise the growing number of unskilled workers. The A F of L was made up of many separate trade unions. ibid. caption
‘The most exciting meetings were those that were called at the shop gates.’ ibid.
‘I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.’ Plutocracy: Political Repression in the USA I: Divide and Rule, Jay Gould, 19th century American railroad developer, 2015
Each mining town was a feudal dominion with the company acting as lord and master … The laws were the company’s rules. ibid.
1907: The most deadly mine disaster in US history occurred when an explosion killed 361 men and boys in a West Virginia coal mine. ibid.
Accidents in American mines were double that of Germany, three times more than England. ibid.
‘Freedom from industrial feudalism … freedom from the terrorism inflicted by hired gunmen … and the struggle for liberties promised in the Bill of Rights.’ ibid. 2003 American Labor History Theme Study
In 1912 coal miners in Kanawha Country in West Virginia issued a list of demands including a shorter workday, the right to organise, recognition of a worker’s constitutional rights to free speech and assembly, an end to the blacklisting of union organisers, and alternatives to company stores. The requested pay raise would have cost the company fifteen cents per miner per day. Instead of negotiating, the company hired a private militia to break the strike. ibid.
[Mother] Jones had been declared the Most Dangerous Woman in America. ibid.
Union organisers were blacklisted and beaten. ibid.
The West Virginian mine wars were part of a broader conflict between the forces of labor and the forces of capital. A struggle that claimed the lives of thousands of American workers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; thousands more were beaten, maimed, imprisoned, tortured and sent to early graves due to poor working conditions and dismal safety standards. ibid.
‘In all civilised countries the people fall into different classes … particularly the distinction between rich and poor.’ ibid. James Madison
The ability of the wealthy to buy their way out of military services caused rage among the poor. ibid.
Irish immigrants were mocked for their accents, their religion and their overall impoverishment. They were also amongst the first ethnic groups in the United States to form labor unions. ibid.
‘You are made to hate each other because upon that hatred is rested the keystone of the arch of financial despotism which enslaves you both.’ ibid. Tom Watson, populist leader
Jim Crow laws enforced segregation and curtailed African-American voting rights. During the same time period poor white voters were also disenfranchised. ibid.
In California a genocidal campaign had reduced the indigenous population from 150,000 in 1846 to 30,000 by 1870. ibid.
The robber barons took every opportunity to bribe politicians and crush their competitors. ibid.
Congress became known as the Millionaires Club. ibid.
By 1900 something like 20% of all American workers were under the age of 18. ibid.
Police were also used to discipline the working class. In Tompkins Square New York 1874 7,000 workers protested unemployment only to be savagely attacked by police. ibid.
A spirited labor press emerged in all of the major cities. ibid.
Unions around the country were becoming increasingly militant. ibid.
‘Anarchy is on trial … Make examples of them, hang them … save our institutions, our society.’ ibid. Julius S Grinnell, prosecutor of anarchists
One in eleven steelworkers died while on the job, often from a lack of sleep. ibid.