By W. Hamish Fraser
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Additional info for A History of British Trade Unionism, 1700-1998
Both had been working towards amalgamation for half a decade or more; both had a fairly clear conception of what they wanted the new organisation to achieve. Like other unions of craftsmen before them, their concern was to devise a union which would regulate entry into the trade and ensure that the various engineering crafts were not flooded by poorly skilled, low-paid new workers whose presence would push down the level of wages. Observation of what had happened to handloom weavers, tailors, shoe-makers and others, who over the decades of industrialisation had failed to control entry into their trades and found their status and earnings undermined, made the dangers inherent in an industry which was expanding by leaps and bounds fairly obvious.
It broke up in 1848 with the reappearance of a London Society of Compositors and a separate Provincial Typographical Association and, eventually, a Scottish Association emerged. 85198c01 24 10/13/98, 9:09 AM 25 Learning the Game By 1850 most of the features of trade unionism and industrial relations which were to shape the next century were in place. The central issue of the power of management and the power of workers to control the labour process was a recurring cause of dispute as was the issue of how the gains of technological change should be distributed between employer and workers.
20 The greatest threat from these judgments was to the larger societies which had registered under the 1855 Act and, given the size of funds which some of them now had, a restoration of protection was clearly essential. Following closely on this hostile judgment was a further threat to trade unions occasioned by the outcry over the Sheffield outrages. In October 1866 a small barrel of gunpowder was dropped down the chimney of a Sheffield sawgrinder who had failed to pay his union dues. As Sidney Pollard has explained, the small unions in the Sheffield cutlery trades depended for their survival on being able to keep tight control of entry into the trade and to do this they used funds to pay people not to work at under the acceptable rate.
A History of British Trade Unionism, 1700-1998 by W. Hamish Fraser