Posts Tagged ‘trade unionism’


‘This note is as phony as the Government’

Spoof banknotes from the time of the Wapping Strike in 1986/1987. I am not sure who created these but I presume it was the printers themselves. The usual suspects are there including Thatcher (as the Queen) and Rupert Murdoch. Pictured here are front and back and an alternative which is one sided.

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The Industrial Workers of the World is an international labour union, that was founded in Chicago in 1905. The union is organised industrially, rather than, by trade. The union does not believe in working with employers and favours direct action by employees.

A group was briefly established by union members in Aberdeen in 2007. The group organised a May Day social night with folk music and also a film screening.

References: website.

Sources: unknown.

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In February 1891 a conference of representatives of the Aberdeen Trade Council and the Aberdeen Labour Committee met to discuss political matters and recommended the Council to convene a meeting of delegates from Trade Councils across Scotland. The aim was united action to secure Labour members of parliament for Scotland, with a programme such as a legislative eight-hour day. The meeting took place in August 1891 and was arranged from Aberdeen but convened in Edinburgh. The key resolution was that: ‘This conference recognising the need for direct representation of labour in Parliament and on local administrative boards, recommends that wherever a candidate is put forward by recognised local labour organisations, and whose candidature is in no wise connected with either great political parties, every possible effort should be made by the trade organisations of this country to assist him financially and otherwise’. The Scottish Trades Councils’ Labour Party (STCLP) was formally established at the next conference in Glasgow in March 1892 and the Executive Committee consisted of a representative from each Scottish trades council as well as a representative of the Scottish Labour Party. The Party recommended that local branches were established and in May 1892 a branch in Aberdeen was formed. Branch members included former members of the Aberdeen Labour Committee: A.T.G. Beveridge (he was Chairman), A. Birse, George Bisset, George Gerrie, A.P. Glass and William Mitchell (Joint-Secretary); individuals and trade unionists from the Aberdeen Socialist Society such as William Cooper and William Rennie; and other officers such as John Keir (Vice-Chairman), J.I. Mundie (Joint-Secretary) and James Philip (Treasurer).

The Aberdeen branch was involved in the promotion of the first ever ‘Labour’ candidate, Henry Hyde Champion (formerly of the Social Democratic Federation) in Aberdeen South, in 1892. Yet the formation at national level of the Independent Labour Party (ILP) in late 1892/early 1893 changed everything and there seemed no reason for the continuation of the STCLP, so much so that the STCLP folded by March 1893 and advised that branches should now join the ILP. The Aberdeen ILP formed directly from The Scottish Trades Councils’ Labour Party and it was more or less a simple name change.

The STCLP was briefly resurrected by Champion in October 1893 and a conference was held in Dundee. This was basically a vehicle for Champion and part of his feud with leaders of the ILP such as Keir Hardie. It was unsuccessful though.

Related entries: Aberdeen Trades Union Council, Aberdeen Labour Committee and Independent Labour Party (Aberdeen branch).

References: Trade Unionism in Aberdeen 1878 1900 (K. D. Buckley, Edinburgh, 1955).

Sources: unknown but references within Aberdeen Trades Union Council papers held at University of Aberdeen Library.

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A Delegated Committee of Sympathy was established in 1846 and was essentially an embryonic Trades Council in action. The Committee came into being as a result of a strike and lock-out of the Union of House Carpenters and Joiners, as their employers had resolved not to deal with any union and only deal with the workmen individually. The masons organised support for them and rallied the city’s trade unionists to support the strikers.

The Committee had further use and was to meet as and when required but seems to have only lasted some 3 or 4 years. From 1856 though a Committee did meet annually in order to make arrangements for the mid-summer holiday and in 1868 the Aberdeen Trades Union Council was formally established.

Related entries: Aberdeen Trades Union Council.

References: History of the Trades Council and the Trade Union Movement in Aberdeen (W. Diack, Aberdeen, 1939) and Trade Unionism in Aberdeen 1878 1900 (K. D. Buckley, Edinburgh, 1955).

Sources: unknown

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Aberdeen Unemployment Association was one of a number of associations set up after a request from the national Trades Union Congress, which had the intention of countering the influence that was exercised by the Communist Party in another related organisation, The National Unemployed Workers’ Movement (NUWM). The Aberdeen Association was run under the auspices of the Aberdeen Trades & Labour Council (later known as the Aberdeen Trades Council) and was only one of two in Scotland. Although the associations across the country had been set up to counter the NUWM, in Aberdeen, both organisations worked together latterly.

Related entries: Aberdeen Trades Union Council.

References: see below. Also ‘Unity from below: the impact of the Spanish Civil War on Labour and the left in Aberdeen and Dundee 1936 – 1939’ (Malcolm Petrie, Labour History Review, 2014).

Sources: minutes from 1936 – 1941 are held as part of the Aberdeen Trades Union Council archives at the University of Aberdeen Library.

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Attempted unionisation in the oil and gas industry goes back to 1973 when the Scottish Trades Union Council (STUC) formed the North Sea Oil Action Committee, which looked at industrial relations and conditions of employment. Also in 1973 unions came together to form the Inter-Union Offshore Oil Committee and they sought recognition with the right to recruit offshore. Trade union membership in the industry though continued to be low.

The Offshore Industry Liaison Committee (OILC) set up in response to the death of workers on the Piper Alpha platform in 1988. Initially it was a rank and file committee consisting of members of the various unions in the industry and was an ad-hoc body operating outwith the remit of the trade union and labour relations legislation. It received a certificate of independence from the Certification Officer for Trade Unions in 1992. In 2008 though it joined the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) as ‘The Offshore Energy Branch of RMT’. OILC have produced their own magazine ‘Blowout’ since July 1989.

References: see below.

Sources: papers are still held by the Union, but the papers relating to the early years of ‘Blowout’ are held at University of Aberdeen Library, having been deposited by the editor.

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Aberdeen Trades Union Council is the body made up of affiliated trade union branches and organisations in the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire area. The Council acts to promote the interests of affiliated organisations and to secure united action on issues of interest. The Council also supports the work of any partner organisations where they share the same objectives to improve the economic and social conditions of working people. The Council is active in campaigns for dignity, equality and diversity in the workplace and beyond.

Seeds were sown in 1846 when a Delegate Committee of Sympathy was established. The Committee came into being as a result of a strike of joiners and the Committee was to be the means of rallying the city’s trade unionists to the support of any section on strike. The Committee was to meet as and when required but seems to have only lasted some 3 or 4 years, but from 1856, a Committee did meet annually in order to make arrangements for the mid-summer holiday.

The Council was formally established though in 1868. Its formation at this time was prompted by the effects of the great strike of 1868, and achieved largely through the efforts of the Aberdeen branches of the Associated Carpenters and Joiners of Scotland, and the Operative Masons’ and Granite Workers’ Union. The Council objects were stated as ‘the advancement and protection of the rights of labour…as also the well-being of the working classes generally’. The Council from the outset, took an active role in both trade and municipal matters within the city, and was central to both the birth and development of an independent labour organisation in Aberdeen. The Council ran candidates in school board and council elections, and acted as the labour party essentially, choosing Parliamentary candidates and organising election campaigns. The joint work was formalised in 1918 when the Labour Party instigated the merging of the industrial and electoral organisations and the Trades Council became known as the Aberdeen Trades & Labour Council (it ran until 1935).

The Council has played a key role in the development of the trade union movement: in the role played in the formation of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) in 1897, through the role of Council officers who have been elected as Presidents of the STUC and latterly in 1973 when a Grampian Federation of Trades Council was established, to represent trades across the Moray and Banff and Buchan areas.

The Council originally met in the Queens Rooms in Union Street but then in 1892 purchased a building in Belmont Street. Then in 1896 a magnificent new Trades Hall was built with multiple committee rooms, decorative wall murals by artist Douglas Strachan (1875 – 1950) and a hall with a capacity of 1200. In 1956 the Council relocated to a former warehouse in the Adelphi and in 1966 a social club was opened. The Social Club was an important site where over the years countless campaign groups had held meetings and social events. In July 2012 though the Club fell into financial difficulty and was closed. Today the Council is still based in the Adelphi area.

The Council’s annual calendar of events includes the traditional May Day rally (since 1890), the Workers’ Memorial Day ceremony at Persley Walled Garden (since 1998) and the St Andrew’s Day anti-racism/anti-fascism march (since 2005).

The current office in the Adelphi used by the Council contains various memorabilia such as framed caricatures of former Council officers, the Memorial Library of the 15th International Brigade (previously in the Aberdeen Unemployment Centre) and the Spanish flag sent back to Aberdeen which was used to wrap around the bodies of two of the Aberdonians who died fighting during the Spanish Civil War.

Previous names have been: Aberdeen United Trades Council (to 1918), Aberdeen Trades & Labour Council (1918-1935), Aberdeen Trades Council (1936 – 2002) and then Aberdeen Trades Union Council (2003 – current).

Related entries: Delegated Committee of Sympathy.

References: see below. Also, History of the Trades Council and the Trade Union Movement in Aberdeen, (W. Diack, Aberdeen, 1939), Trade Unionism in Aberdeen 1878 1900 (K. D. Buckley, Edinburgh, 1955), The Aberdeen Trades Council and Politics 1900-1939 (C. W. M. Phipps, University of Aberdeen thesis, 1980), Organising Trade Unions in Aberdeen: the STUC Trade Union Organising Committee: 1927 – 1939 (Angus MacDonald, 1986, unpublished), ‘ATC 1868 – 1968’ (Jimmy Milne, ATC annual report – reprinted 1988), ‘Reflections on 125 years of trade unions in Aberdeen’ (Professor Paul Dukes, ATUC annual report 1993) and ‘125th anniversary’ (Mike Dey, ATC annual report, 1994).

Sources: papers held at University of Aberdeen Library.

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