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Title: The attitude of the Trades Union Congress towards unemployment in the inter-war period
Author: Shaw, S.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3401 5057
Awarding Body: University of Kent at Canterbury
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 1979
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The aim of this thesis is to consider how trade unions reacted to large-scale unemployment. It focuses upon the Trades Union Congress and its General Council, but refers to individual unions and to the wider Labour movement on particular issues. Wages emerge as the major area of trade union concern. Trade union perceptions of a trade-off between wages and unemployment, and the degree to which unions may have been willing to bargain one against the other, are investigated. It is concluded that despite the prevailing levels of unemployment in the inter-war period the unions were not unsuccessful in achieving real improvements in living standards for their members. The development of T.U.C. thinking on economic issues, with particular regard to the problem of unemployment, is described and analysed. The methods employed in pursuit of these policies are also discussed. Criticism is made of the generally favourable comment alleging the T.U.C.'s relative economic sophistication in the face of depression. In regard to tactics and organisation, unemployment appears to have had only a marginal influence upon the trade unions. In as much as the majority of trade union members remained in employment, and so long as unemployment did not threaten wage standards, this result was to be expected. Notwithstanding a dramatic loss in membership and income, and in spite of the unfavourable economic climate, the trade unions emerged from the inter-war period with their prestige enhanced. Although they could claim little access in the political sphere, nor in their collaboration with the employers, the wages front had been held for the most part since 1922. Unemployment was genuinely regarded by trade unions with abhorrence. However, this view was tempered by the experience that even in the industrial circumstances of the inter-war period, unemployment could not totally break the bargaining over of labour.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: D203 Modern History, 1453-