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By Richard Hyman (auth.)

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Such exclusiveness had an evident pay-off : the key groups were able to secure differentials above the lower-paid which were at times even larger than those existing in craft industries. A similar situation tended to exist in coalrnining, where the face-workers normally dominated the unions - even though other workers were ' This does not mean that there was no consciousness of broader common interests. In 1859-60, for example, the ASE made donations totalling £3,000 to the London building unions locked out by their employers -an unprecedented display of solidarity.

British unions, like American, are unusual in possessing a single central organisation, the Trades Union Congress (TUC), encom- 38 Industrial Relations passing the main organisations of both manual and white-collar workers. In 1974 every major union was affiliated, giving a total membership of 10 million. 2 British unions are however almost unique in the diversity of principles underlying their organisation; their structure is famous- or notorious- for its complexity. TABLE 1 Membership of the largest British Unions-end 1973 (,000)* Transport and General Workers' Union (TGWU) 1785 Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers (AUEW) 1375 General and Municipal Workers' Union (GMWU) 864 National and Local Government Officers' Association (NALGO) 518 National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) 470 Electrical Electronic Telecommunication and Plumbing Union (EETPU) 420 Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) 326 Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs (ASTMS) 316 National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) 261 Union of Construction Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT) 257 National Union of Teachers (NUT) 250 Civil and Public Services Association (CPSA) 216 *TUC affiliation figures.

Sociability was often a primary purpose of such societies (in many cases, the rules prescribed the amount to be spent on drink at each meeting); in addition, an important function was the provision of friendly benefits (for sickness, accidents, unemployment, loss of tools, death, and possibly retirement). By contrast, the direct industrial relations activities of such early unions were often of lesser importance. The trades in which they were established operated on the basis of a network of rules prescribed by custom and often dating back to medieval times.

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