Trade Unions and the Industrial Revolution

2315 Words May 30th, 2011 10 Pages
Trade Unions had struggled to achieve the freedom to exist in the early stages of the industrial revolution. Provide a critical account of their early developments, noting some of the major changes in their formation and character. A trade union can be described as an organization of workers who have banded together to achieve common goals in key areas and working conditions. They were established around the early eighteenth century and membership was low and most were from within crafting industries but as the success of trade unions became apparent, workers in other industries began to see the benefits of unions to allow them to go from strength to strength and establish themselves in a wider variety of sectors. However, up until the …show more content…
146). In 1851 the Amalgamated Society of Engineers was formed after sever local and sectional engineering unions merged together (Blackboard, 2008). This society formed a new organisation of trade unionism which was followed by Carpenters and Joiners and other trade unions. These unions were “respected by employers because they hand money in the bank and prudence as their first principle”. They had a cautious industrial policy and used strikes as a last resort. (Derry and Jarman, XXXX, p. 146).

The new Liberal government headed by William Gladstone saw The Trade Union Congress campaigning for the Minority Report, the campaign was successful and the 1871 Trade Union Act was based largely on the Minority Report. This act secured the legal status of trade unions. As a result of this legislation no trade union could be regarded as criminal because "in restraint of trade"; trade union funds were protected. Although trade unions were pleased with this act, they were less happy with the Criminal Law Amendment Act passed the same day that made picketing illegal.

Trade unions also went through many amalgamations and legal changes, for example, until 1850, unions had been involved primarily in local affairs (with the exception of the miners) but from the middle of the century, the growth of railways meant that communications were easier and amalgamations began to take place. The engineering industry was in the lead and
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