Labour History Review

'If We Depart from These Conditions…': Trade Union Reactions to European Immigrant Workers in the Textile Industry C. 1946–1952

Labour History Review (2007), 72, (2), 135–154.

Abstract

Trade union attitudes towards European immigrants have rarely been studied in a post-war context. As a response to this, this article focuses on trade union reactions to European workers in the Lancashire cotton industry between 1946 and 1951. Highlighting the merits of local case studies of labour relations, the focus is predominantly on the Amalgamated Association of Operative Cotton Spinners and Twiners. Evidence is presented of a defensive attitude on the part of the Association that limited the number of European workers in individual mills, as well as acting as a barrier to such workers advancing into the echelons of skilled labour. The paper recognises, however, the complexities of the period, characterised as much by the consequences of capitalism and the decline of the cotton industry, as trade union jingoism. It also alludes to the conflicts that existed between individual districts and Executive Committees, between negotiated agreements and circumstances at individual mills and between employers and labour.

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Author details

Phillips, Simon

Hallett, Christine

Abendstern, Michele