Potbank and union : a study of work and trade unionism in the pottery industry, 1900-1924
The thesis analyses work and trade unionism in the pottery industry between 1900-1924. It explores the structural influences on work and unionism and the experience of the people involved. The main contextual features studied include: the industrial framework; ceramic technology and production; the social relations of the workplace; the union's origins and growth; employer action and the potters' relationship with the community, labour movement and state. The study demonstrates how social and economic relations moulded perceptions and that individuals could shape those relations. There are five sections. The first shows the industry's economic structure was the principal determinant of the potter's work. Past industrial development conditioned responses to the events of the 1900-1924 period. Worker and management actions are related to the variety of markets and technology. Secondly, an examination of the production process reveals the sectionalism of the industry's internal relations which affected the potters' attempts at collective organization. Thirdly the evolution of trade unionism and its amalgamated form are explained. Initially the union was craft dominated but during the period came to reflect the composite workforce's response to industrial change. The workgroup, the family and local loyalties formed the basis of union organization. Fourthly, management's desire to control production had a major impact on work and union experience. Industrial bargaining and conflict reinforced the sectionalism of the workforce and the fragmentation of the union. Finally, the class consciousness and political attitudes of the potters resulted from the interaction of workplace and community and were also modified by the potters' relations with other classes, the labour movement and the state. The period constitutes a discontinuity in the development of the Potteries given the changes which occurred in technology, capital and labour organizations and industrial relations. The thesis is the first account of work and unionism in this era of the pottery industry's history and challenges orthodox interpretations of the technical and social aspects of pottery manufacture. It seeks to understand the social basis of work and trade unionism and to broaden the historical study of women workers, industrial disease and the intersection of home, work and trade unionism.