Labour History Review

'No Safe or Reliable Substitute': The Hostility of British Unions to State Regulation of Wages, 1920–1935

Labour History Review (2008), 73, (2), 208–227.

Abstract

In contrast to the UK, Australia is a country with an almost untroubled acceptance by working people of the state's intervention into wage fixation and dispute settlement. This is clearly not so in the UK, where there has been frequent pronouncement of the independence and prerogative of trade unions in collective bargaining on behalf of their members. The title of this article and, one might argue, the catch-cry of trade unionism in the UK for most of the twentieth century, was articulated by the Scottish Trades Union Congress, in 1930, which said: 'when it is a matter of safeguarding the economic or social standards of the workers, the state is no safe or suitable substitute for the trade unions.' In light of this vehemence, some consideration must be made of the economic conditions which prompted the TUC's survey in the following year, as a means of developing a legislative programme of state fixation of wages in the UK.

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Author details

Price, Rohan