Chapter Thirteen

 I     The overall political and economic situation                      
2     The Labour Government’s economic policy 1947-50
3     The Cold War and the labour movement in Derbyshire          
4     Political developments in the 1950s                                             
5     The independent left in Derby                                                        
6     Racism and immigration – a potent scapegoat as boom turns to slump
7     A new style of industrial relations                                                  •
8     Political trends in the 1960s                                                            
9     Trades unionism in Derbyshire in the post-war era – some specific industries
i)            Trade union attitudes to work study and productivity                             
ii)           The TGWU in the post-war era                                        
iii)           British Railways
iv)          The National Coal Board
v)           The engineering industry
vi)          The hosiery trade
vii)         Postal workers
viii)       The building trades
ix)          The General and Municipal Workers Union
x)           Agricultural workers
xi)          Public services
xii)         White-Collar trade unionism
xiii)        USDAW
10        By way of an epilogue
11        Chapter 13 References
1 The overall political and economic situation
A strong sense of political confidence existed in the labour movement after Labour’s magnificent victory. Affiliated membership to the Derby Labour Party increased by 1,787 that year and it was considered a “sign of the times” that the Derby branch of the National Union Agricultural Workers had affiliated [1] The annual conference of Britain’s trades councils was held in Derby in 1946. Indicative of the prevalent mood was the comment made by the chairman of the conference, H H Harrison, who declared that: “We are no longer petitioning for a place in the councils of the state. We are the state.” [2] Councillor Matt Lowe told the annual May Day demonstration that Labour’s policy was “planned and deliberate. Capitalism was going to be succeeded by socialism.” [3]
While much of this was political naivety, destined to be severely tested by harsh reality, there were substantial and worthwhile achievements to point to. These certainly gave rise to such notions in the initial stage of the new Government’s life. Immediate partiality towards the trade unions was exercised by the repeal of the iniquitous 1927 Trade Disputes Act, whereupon Post Office and Civil Service unions joined the TUC, since affiliation to a trade union centre had been previously illegal for them.
Nationalisation of the coal mines had been the sweetest reform, making up a little for generations of bitter struggle. The event was celebrated in carnival fashion by a gathering at the Market Place in Heanor, followed by a parade to Coppice Colliery. There had been very little controversy over nationalisation of this industry, which by general consent was being managed very inefficiently under private ownership. There was however more argument generated over the Government’s proposals for transport. Predictably, the East Midlands area of the Traders’ Road Transport Association, in common with other areas, opposed the nationalisation of transport undertakings. [4] There was less argument over the transference of the unprofitable railways and canals, but more controversy over the creation of British Road Services (BRS), the new state owned road haulage company. The iron and steel industry was another controversial nationalisation, since profits could be made out of the sector. In the main, the programme of nationalisation did not materially affect capitalism, as only inefficient industries were taken over.
In the realm of social services, great strides were made. The school leaving age was raised to fifteen years and entry into university was made easier for many ordinary working class children by the introduction of a system of grants. The National Health Service was created, providing medical treatment free of financial burdens on patients and hospitals were taken into state ownership, or required to maintain the same standards if they were to continue to function. Spectacles were provided under the new NHS and the demand for these was astonishing, testifying to the fact that many people had previously had to suffer the disadvantage of poor sight due to financial concerns. In Derbyshire, applications came at the rate of two hundred a day over the first six weeks. [5]
For the first time in nine years, electors were able to decide on the composition of the County Council. 120 nominees stood for 70 seats “in contrast to the days when candidates for the County Council were a rarity”. [6] Labour gained control in the county with 43 seats. Alderman Charles White took the chairmanship, the start of many years in which he would stamp his individual style of authority on the council. Interestingly, a noticeable feature of the election was what was then considered to be the small turnout of 30%. [7] The significance of the low turnout may be open to all kinds of speculative arguments, but what is clear is that disillusionment with a widening gulf between the expectations arising from Labour’s victory and the reality began to mount fairly quickly. Economic difficulties began to surface in late 1946, the underlying problems having previously been masked by American loans. Severe rationing combined with intolerable housing conditions annoyed many. Three and a half million men and women were demobilised and re-joined their families. There had been a serious housing problem before the war, but bombing and the inability of the nation to devote resources to the ordinary level of building replacement and renewal during the war had made matters worse.
Faced with this situation, squatters appeared on the Kingsway Rocket Site in Derby in 1946. A wave of occupations of unused military properties took place across the whole country, amidst popular support. In response, the Government proposed a programme of building 200,000 houses a year. This target was never achieved, due to the austerity policies which Labour adopted largely to balance its budget which was increasingly dominated by heavy military expenditure. By May 1947, DerbyTown Council had built 309 houses since the start of its post-war programme; 355 were under construction and tenders for 788 had been approved. In the four years from the end of the war, 2,500 families were provided with homes by Derby Council and then additional plans for another 4,000 houses were underway. Nonetheless, with a population of 138,000 in Derby, much more needed to be done. [8]
Much more worrying, given the nature of Labour’s pledges in the 1945 manifesto, was the admission by George Brown, MP for Belper, speaking at Allestree on the edge of Derby, that he was “concerned that there was more unemployment, especially at Alfreton, than he cared for”. [9] Much of the problem lay in the necessary period of industrial re-conversion from war production to peacetime enterprise. In early 1947, the length for which unemployment benefit might be claimed was extended because of the high incidence of joblessness in certain areas. But this was not a general problem, for there was also a serious labour shortage in many places and Belper was one of these. Three hundred workers were urgently needed in January 1947, to fill vacancies at Belper’s main factories in cotton spinning, hosiery, building, foundry work and in open cast mining at Denby. [10] The Beveridge report laid down the nature of the post war settlement, which virtually any government would be obliged to follow and which Labour enthusiastically endorsed. This envisaged 3% unemployment as a ‘full’ employment situation. The reality in the latter part of Labour’s period of office from 1945-50 was, much better. In 1948, there was only 1.8% unemployment and in the next two years this diminished to first 1.6% and then to 1.5%. But this was largely due to the effects of a war rearmament policy.
The continued presence of German prisoners of war, who were working on many Derbyshire farms in August 1946 and beyond, worried those who faced employment difficulties. To complicate things, the small Trotskyist movement saw them as a potential target for revolutionary propaganda. William Cleminson, of the Sheffield branch of the Revolutionary Communist Party, was fined £5 for each of two summonses in connection with his actions in giving such literature to POWs at Stony Middleton. The material handed out was German language publications, `Spartakus’ and `Solidaritat’. [11]
But most saw émigré labour of whatever kind as a threat to organised labour and not just the Germans. The Belper Trades Council was very concerned at the proposal to re-settle the allied soldiers of the Polish Army in exile. [12] For this ensured preferential treatment to these soldiers, while former British combatants were still unemployed and could not get on the training courses and schemes set up by the government for the large numbers of Poles on them. The extensive use of re-settlement of Poles in agriculture was roundly condemned by Derby’s National Union of Agricultural Workers (NUAW), which resolved that “all foreign labour be sent out of agriculture, and better conditions be given to the Agricultural industry to attract proper British workers.” [13]
But certainly, it became a matter of greater concern when the government went beyond locating those former combatants who had been in Britain to aid in the fight against Hitler. It went against the grain when, as tensions between the Allies saw Britain, France and the USA ranged against the USSR, ‘European Volunteers’ from largely Eastern Europe, were invited to work in Britain. Some of these had a dubious war record – to be at the most charitable – man, now possessing the necessary qualifications of anti-communism, had actively assisted Hitler’s war against the Soviet Union.
22 untrained women from Greece, Poland and the Baltic States were allowed in to Britain in September 1947 to work for British Celanese in Derby. Within months there had been an influx of Europeans from 17 nations. By 1949 2,000 Poles and 750 other nationalities had found work in Derby. The concern of many trades unionists was that, especially wearing their badge of anti-communism, many of these workers were violently opposed to trade unions and if they did join were usually strongly opposed to 100% membership situations and to taking strike or any other kind of industrial action. In this vein, a delegate to the Derby Trades Council, even put the case in February 1949 in a debate on the question that “Poles should be compelled to join a union or go back to Poland”. [14]
2 The Labour Government’s Economic Policy 1949-50
The needs of war had dictated that commodity and service prices be strictly controlled and this had continued for some time after the cessation of hostilities. During 1948 there was a gradual relaxation of these controls; Harold Wilson, then a young minister at the Board of Trade, announced a ‘bonfire’ of these. The bold talk in Labour’s programme of supervising the non-state monopolies had swiftly morphed into a policy of co­operation with them. While the notion that wages could and should be regulated by government came to the fore. The war period proved to be a watershed in the respect that the wages policy of each successive post-war government became the most crucial of all policies. No government until 1979 deviated from the principle that it was their job, in part, to regulate the general drift of wages in society. It became a matter of central relevance in Britain’s political life. The Tories had argued for wages to be part of the economic planning of the Government during the war and they pursued the same policy in opposition. Tory MPs in 1946 wondered whether the miners had the Government’s permission to ask for a reduction in hours! But trades unionists were suspicious of such a policy, even the fiercely right wing leadership.
Labour found itself in great trouble, as the big US loans ran out. The re-armament boom, which was generated by the Cold War with the USSR, led to the stockpiling of goods and the dangers of a slump. A major foreign exchange crisis developed in 1947, causing the introduction of a programme of austerity, involving wage restraint. The Government sought to link wage increases only to real improvements in productivity, except in special cases. Setting out five points of reservation, the TUC endorsed the policy only on the basis that the Government would carry through a policy of controlling prices and profits as well as wages. Even so, support for this policy was only won against the serious reluctance of the movement to acceptance restraint by the Government of the principle of free collective bargaining, amidst urging of the need for exemptions and safeguards.
But a recession began in the US in 1949, which had serious implications. Possibly to please American business interests, in September 1949 the Government announced a 30% devaluation of the pound to the dollar. Inflation was thus fuelled and the TUC found itself trying to hold back wage advances. The average wage rise dropped from around 10/- or 11/- a week in 1947 to less than half that two or three years later. While prices and profits grew, massive cuts in public spending were implemented in October 1949. A ceiling was imposed in many areas of social spending, while £645 million in private capital left the country between 1947 and 1949, as investors sought more profitable areas.
Although the TUC confirmed the Government’s wages policy in January 1950, there was much pressure from the grassroots to reverse this. One conference after another of various trade unions rejected the approach and in the face of popular resentment, the policy was formally abandoned in June 1950. In the six years from the war, the leadership of the trade union movement found itself increasingly isolated from its membership. Strikes were ruthlessly discouraged, as a tendency towards unofficial, rank and file leadership began to emerge.
3 The Cold War and the labour movement
In 1946, the Mayor of Derby was busily engaged in arranging for a Soviet delegation to the town, which the Anglo-Russian Council had proposed. The idea was that formal links between Derby and “some similar town in Russia” be established. [15] No such link was ever made, for the tensions between the USSR and the USA, and their respective allies, put paid to most expressions of friendship and goodwill. Only months after the Mayor’s contemplated activities, the Bishop of Derby, Dr A E J Rawlinson, despairingly warned against what he saw as ‘atheistic states”. [16] Britain became a prime mover in the overtly anti-Communist military alliance, NATO, and was now unarguably a junior partner of the USA. Much criticism of the Labour Government’s coat-tailing of the United States emerged in the labour movement. In particular, the Keep Left group of Labour MPs maintained a vigorous opposition until 1947, when the trade union block vote ensured a crushing defeat for any formal criticism of Labour’s Cold War policies within the party.
Keep Left’s defeat ensured that the only source of opposition came from the far end of the left of the political spectrum. A number of Labour MPs were expelled from the party for their ‘crypto-communism’ and few outside the Communist Party were able to maintain an anti-Cold War stance. The labour movement was dominated by the presence of Bevin in the Cabinet and Deakin in the TUC, both having an important base in the TGWU as former and current General Secretaries of the union. Deakin was able to persuade his union to introduce a rule preventing Communists from holding office in the TGWU. Apart from a large number of shop stewards and branch secretaries losing their positions, nine full time officials lost their jobs. The TUC issued a circular, warning unions to act to prevent Communists from holding official posts, although it proved to be a controversial and difficult policy to enforce.
Contrasting with the attitude of their predecessors in the pre-war period, Derby Trades Council (DTC) delegates declined formal participation in the 1946 Industrial Service in Derby. This had been launched by Dr A Blunt when he was at St Werburgh’s and now, as Bishop of Bradford, he was to make the main address. The DTC believed it was a matter of “individual conscience” whether trades unionists participated in such things, rather than a matter of policy. But, as practical anti-communism became the order of the day, a vigorous Christian message was seen by some as a natural complement. The Moral Re-armament Movement was one such force, funded by American big business; it targeted likely activists in the labour movement for ideological re-direction. MRA was by no means without support locally, Group Captain Wilcox MP regretted his inability to attend one of their meeting, providing a message of warm support, as did Alderman Raynes. [17]
There were serious social disturbances of an anti-semitic nature during 1947, especially in the East End of London, as tensions rose as a result of Zionist terrorist activities in Palestine against British troops, in the struggle to establish the state of Israel. This, allied to the rabid anti-communism of the day, enabled the newly emergent fascist movement to now find fertile ground. Mosley reappeared, seeking to unite the splintered dozen or so fascist organisations. In 1947, a report appeared in the local press of a woman being brought before court for attacking a man whose son was trying to recruit her husband into the fascist movement. Then fascist meetings began to be held in Derby’s Market Place and a movement called the Sons of St George was used as an electoral front, there being considerable hostility to the words ‘fascist’ and ‘nazi’. Three candidates stood in the local elections in Derby in 1947. Openly jingoistic and racist, the Sons declared themselves to stand for the Empire, the banning of strikes and a generally authoritarian kind of super-Toryism. Africa should be developed as a “national estate” and there should be total opposition to “any absurd promises that the new Africa, which white genius had created, will be handed back to the government of people who are incapable of development or maintenance without white leadership”. [18]
Such a development greatly concerned many in the labour movement and this was expressed at the Derby Trades Council (DTC) in October 1947, when worries over the “growing activities of Fascists in Derby” were voiced by two Communists. J I (Andy) Bird of Derby No. 22 AEU branch revealed that anti-semitic speeches were being made every Sunday evening at Market Place meetings. Bird put a resolution which was seconded by W L (Doug) Coleman, which called upon the labour movement “to put an end to this menace”. But there was not a consensus on the matter; J Rolley thought that the proposition had “an element of danger so far as free speech was concerned … We are not always certain that we shall be on top.” The council decided by a vote of 23 to 18 to take no action on the matter. [19] By January 1948, as the struggle to combat fascism developed, the DTC was won to accept a call upon the Mayor to summon a town’s meeting to oppose the “menace of fascism”, to which all genuine political and religious bodies could be invited. [20]
Tension arising from fascist activities was inevitable, especially when the Sons of St George came across active Communists. Andy Bird recalled that he was once caught out on his own, while campaigning door to door for the Communist Party in Derby’s West End. A group of fascists spied him on the doorstep, talking to a potential voter. Only the co­operation of the householder enabled him to escape the inevitable beating up. On another occasion, he considered his “life had been saved” by Doug Coleman, a young man with prize-fighting experience in London. [21] The threat of violence, generated by the resurgence of fascism so soon after the war, thus became very real.
Tommy and Winifred Moran, had both stood as independents in the 1947 local elections on a platform of opposition to the “Comintern and the CPGB”, despite the fact that the former was now dissolved! They were both prominent fascists in Derby, but were not enamoured of the Sons of St George. There were personal and minor ideological differences between themselves and other Derby fascists. In May 1948, two fascist meetings were held in competition in the Market Place and these resulted in violence, when Tommy Moran was called a Jew. [22] The resulting distaste was well reflected when the Derby branch of the agricultural workers, the NUAW, carried a resolution which was forwarded to the DTC, protesting against the “violence used by Fascism in Derby”. [23]
The Morans were long-time supporters of Oswald Mosley. The old British Union of Fascists now being extinct and discredited and the ultra-right being splintered, Mosley was able to found the Union Movement in February 1948. Winifred Moran soon found herself in court, after making anti-semitic speeches for the Union Movement, which now developed a significant following in the town. [24] The Movement’s local branch officer, F W Antley, was able to obtain an invitation for Mosley to speak at the Derby Business Men’s’ Discussion Group in 1949, itself testament to the degree of respectability with which the formerly imprisoned would-be Fuehrer of Britain had attained. Eventually, the Government was persuaded to act to control the increasing tension created by fascism’s exploitation of free speech and Mosley’s moment faded for another ten years.
As for the object of much of this hatred, the Communist Party was able to retain some semblance of its wartime prowess in Derby. But the intense anti-communism which was unleashed with official approval severely dented the Communist Party’s support. The party followed the line adopted by most West European Communist Parties, believing that it might be possible to stop the slide to Cold War politics by attempting left unity pacts with the Labour Party. Achieving left unity governments by means of winning a majority in parliament was now accepted as a strategy to follow. But, in the absence of any formal willingness by Labour to contemplate such an approach, the Communist Party found itself moving towards heavy involvement in the electoral struggle and the downgrading of its mass base in industry.
The Derby branch of the CP managed to present a respectable electoral campaign. Harry Fuller gained a reasonably good base in Kingsmead ward from 1945 to 1947, polling 203, then 256 and finally 250 votes in each successive municipal election. Compared to a vote of 36 won by the Sons of St George, it was tolerable. But with Labour winning local council seats, or coming near to it, with a vote of a thousand or more, clearly neither fascist nor Communist candidates had anything like a mass base. The Communist Party’s renewed, national application to affiliate to the Labour Party once again fell on stony ground. Philip Noel-Baker, one of Derby’s two Labour MPs and Mrs Russell were the two delegates from the DLP to the 1946 Labour Party conference. They were very clear in their own minds about rejecting the application and the advice they received from the DLP only confirmed this view.
The Derby Communist Party branch had presented a petition to the DLP, containing 45 signatures. This was composed of eight or nine prominent CP members, seven or eight Labour Party members and the remainder were “trades unionists not belonging to the Labour Party”. The DLP described the petition in these disparaging terms, viewing the whole affair with “something approaching contempt”. But there was also some strong local support, albeit in the mining areas of Derbyshire. The Dronfield Labour Party actively worked with the CP to form a “real working class party to beat the united party of the so-called independents” in local government. Naturally, this attracted the attention of Labour Party officials, who threatened discipline and thus prevented a reoccurrence of such developments. [25]
Despite its failure to break the monopoly of the electoral loyalty of the working class which Labour enjoyed, the CP did make something of a better reputation for itself in the development of local policies. The Derby CP branch produced a “well written and attractively produced” pamphlet called “Derby – your town”, which concentrated upon the social and welfare reforms needed in the area. [26] The proposal of the Labour controlled town council to close its civic restaurants was heartily campaigned against by the CP. A resolution was arranged at the DTC, which resoundingly condemned the notion of closures, this being moved by T J (Jim) Potts. This move provoked the response from Councillor S Harpur that there had been “Communist inspired agitation” against the closure of the restaurants, as if that made the proposal correct! Potts was rather put out by Harpur’s suggestions, pointing out that the resolution had come from one of the AESD draughtsmen’s’ branches and that he was the only Communist member of the branch’s executive. [27] Potts was a draughtsman with Rolls Royce and was president or secretary of the DTC on a number of occasions over the years.
While membership of the CP had fallen dramatically, compared with its high point during the war, there were still 136 members in the Derby branch in 1948. But membership in the big factories was now relatively small. In Rolls Royce there were 33 and in the British Railways workshops there were 17 members. Nonetheless, in July 1948 the branch was able to fill the Central Hall in Derby for a rally which was chaired by T Robinson, with the main speaker being William Gallagher, the Communist MP. [28] But it proved difficult to maintain interest and enthusiasm and by 1949 the party had failed to contest the local elections. F V Watson had intended to stand, but the nomination papers were deemed to be incorrectly signed and his candidature was disallowed. The State was now clearly identifying Communists as the main enemy in society. In 1948, the Labour Government introduced a procedure for purging all people in the civil service “known to be a member of the Communist Party or to be associated with it in such a way as to raise legitimate doubts”. [29] In the late 1940s and early 1950s, 167 civil servants were removed from their posts as a result of this purge.
Labour MPs who displayed support for the electoral alliance of left wing socialists with the Communist Party in Italy were severely disciplined and there were expulsions from the Labour Party for those accused of crypto-communism. There was support for those subjected to such animosity in some sections of the labour movement in Derbyshire, especially in the mining areas. But there were tensions over this, the robustly anti-communist Bolsover MP, Harold Neal, voted differently to his local delegation at the Labour Party conference in 1949, over the expulsion of Konni Zilliacus MP. Whilst a motion in favour of CP affiliation was passed by GlapwelI No.1 branch of the Derbyshire miners, no doubt arising from the fact that the Communists were fairly strongly organised in GIapweIl, Holmewood and North Wingfield.
There were smaller signs of purges motivated by a morbid anti-communism, as when a Derby works opera society banned Communists from participating in its activities! More seriously, it became seriously dangerous to employment to be a known Communist. In the face of this, a resolution which voiced fears about such developments was submitted to the DTC. This was easily carried, since it demanded protection for workers removed from their employment “for reasons of political unreliability”. [30] In January 1949, the DTC postponed a discussion on the TUC’s circular on Communism, but the council eventually refused to endorse it. R W Brothill of the NUR argued for an amendment that was carried, to the effect that the exclusion of trades unionists for political opinions would play into the hands of the employers. [31] Less significant, but no doubt utterly distressing to the person involved, was the case of a tenant of part of a furnished house at 20 Wilson Street, who was given notice to quit when the owner learned that the tenant, E Sharrocks, was a Communist. This eviction was prevented by taking a case before Derby Rent Tribunal, whilst the rent of both of the tenants in the house was also much reduced at the same time! [32]
Such excessively hostile attitudes to Communists were not just a matter for themselves, nor was the intolerance towards left ideas restricted just to those of Marxism. The labour movement grew restless at the effects of the Government’s policies. A resolution from Derby No. 7 NUR which came to the DTC was ruled out of order by D M Cassidy of the Scientific Workers Union, the president in 1950. This viewed “with concern the Government’s policy, which has lead to enormous increases in arms expenditure” and called for a return to socialist policies. Cassidy determined the resolution as political and claimed that, as it was against DTC standing orders to use general funds for political purposes, the council could not deliberate political matters. The appropriate forum to discuss the matter, he reasoned, was the Labour Party. The argument was blatant nonsense, for the entire history of the DTC (even since the 1927 Trade Disputes Act, which introduced some relevant restrictions on the use of general funds for political purposes) had been littered with motions of such a character. Moreover, there was no question of general funds being used for any kind of political purposes. Such inept desperation reveals a deep, emergent divisiveness and a desire to avoid debate, It is always a difficult thing to challenge a chair’s ruling from the floor and, in a matter of confidence in the president, the resulting vote provided Cassidy with a majority.
Even more damaging to Cassidy’s ruling was the fact that, at the same meeting, there had been a political discussion on a TUC circular which characterised the British Peace Committee as “Communist inspired” and instructed trades councils not to get involved with the body. The ban on politics in the affairs of the DTC did not, it seems, extend to this sort of politics. [33] The left on the DTC did not leave it at that, demanding an interpretation from the TUC on Cassidy’s ruling. The subsequent advice predictably upheld the illogical stance of the president on the critical motion. This provoked R W Brothill to pointedly ask whether all resolutions of a political character would have to be ruled out of order in future. Brothill argued that his NUR branch had always viewed the council as the workers’ parliament, which debated all matters of concern to workers. Cassidy’s response was that this aspect of its role only applied to local issues. [34] Despite the ruling from the TUC, such a narrow and parochial view of the role of trades councils could not satisfy the real desires of ordinary trades unionists to handle matters of genuine concern. This was especially so as the average member began to ask very sharp questions over the Government’s prices and incomes policy. Reflecting the mood, Labour began to do badly in local elections.
The November 1950 meeting of the DTC saw W Goddard propose a motion expressing deep concern at the very high cost of living and the effect this had on working class families. Goddard called for “representations to be made to the Ministry”. Complaints about high prices were made, Goddard dryly argued, because “agitators were at work – and they were not the Communists, the Socialists, or the Tories, but your wives”. [35] Despite some carping remarks from a few delegates, the DTC was obliged to pass the resolution unanimously, the concern of some to deflect all criticism of ‘their’ government at all costs being ignored. Perhaps reflecting Cassidy’s rather mundane view of the DTC’s role, the council turned to parochial social and economic matters. Increased bus fares occupied much time, while the Medical Officer of Health was invited to speak on the need for cleanliness in the handling of food.
After Labour’s defeat in 1951, the postured anti-communism of the Tory Government was easier to deal with. The DTC did not hesitate to deplore the action of Sir David Maxwell Fyffe, the Home Secretary, in refusing asylum to Dr Joseph Cort, a former member of the Communist Party of the USA, who was lecturing in Britain on a research fellowship. The DTC accused the Government of pandering to the dictates of Senator McCarthy, the notorious witch hunter, something strongly denied by the media and the State. Thirty years later, declassified cabinet papers at last revealed just that, yet another case of a once derided accusation from the left being vindicated by history. Maxwell Fyffe, it seems, felt that agreeing to asylum would be to admit that the US was allowing its military service laws to be used for the political persecution of Dr Cort.
A certain ambiguity emerged around the notion of apoliticism, which those on the right of labour movement thought the proper role of the trades councils. When, in October 1954, a DTC delegate called Taylor raised the question of a meeting being organised by the Movement for Colonial Freedom (much later to be renamed Liberation), the president pointed out that the secretary had replied to the MCF “in strict accordance with the past practice of the council and (this) should not be deviated from”. When a political issue leaned to the left, the DTC leadership was quick to debar it. In 1953, USDAW proposed a resolution condemning the intervention of British troops in the South American colony of British Guiana (later Guyana). The restoration of the constitutionally elected left wing, Marxist Government, which had been overthrown by force of arms, was called for. But the motion was predictably ruled out of order.
The trades councils were still significant expressions of working class opinion and it was important to diverse political tendencies to influence them. Affiliation levels in 1956 are an indicator of the value of this:
                        llkeston                       6,000
                        Derby                         17,000
                        Matlock/Bakewell     2,000
                        Belper                             700
                        North Midlands total 150,000
The argument that political debate was improper at a trades council, on the grounds that the 1913 and 1927 Trade Union Acts restricted their position, came up time and time again in this period on the DTC. The right wing on the council anxiously sought to avoid any chance of Communist or left inspired debate and in the process twisted and distorted the very character of the organisation, diminishing it in the process. Only in 1966 was the DTC able to obtain a more accurate definition of the restraints upon themselves after querying the problem with the North Midlands Federation of Trades Councils, which was influenced by the CP through the Chesterfield, Nottingham and other trades councils. The Federation correctly advised that “it was not possible for a Trade Union Council to make any donation to Parliamentary election funds from money derived from affiliation fees or other money received by Councils for industrial purposes”. Despite such clarity, even in the 1970s the DTC encountered some delegates arguing that there were legal restrictions upon trades councils spending money on matters that were political, without being party political. Ludicrously, this was even taken to the extent of implying that debate on such matters could be restricted.
In time, even these arguments faded but the authority and status of trades councils suffered along the way. The bans and proscriptions that emerged in the Labour Party from the late 1920s proved to be difficult to export to the trade union movement and it became almost impossible to apply them to the trades councils’ movement. Some councils were still organically tied to the Labour Party until very recent times. Such an example was the Ilkeston Trades Council, which in 1949 was finally separated from the Labour Party with which it had been organisationally tied for decades. Previously the Ilkeston Trades and Labour Council, this tendency was a harkening back to earlier generations when the trades councils had been the main political expression of the labour movement. But bans against Communists inhibited the work of such councils, since delegates had also to be individual members of the Labour Party where they were “trades and labour councils”. As unions organising in newer sectors began to emerge, in the white collar and public sectors, this underlined the inadequacy of these councils. Newer affiliates to the TUC were not always also affiliated to the Labour Party and the resultant tension could only be resolved by opening up the trades council movement. [36]
4 Political developments in the 1950s
In the run up to the 1950 general election, huge crowds heard the Prime Minister, Clem Attlee, in Derby and Long Eaton. Defending his Government’s strong dependence on American aid, he did not offer a comfortable road ahead. His own task, he said, was “not an easy one, not a light one, but a worthwhile one”. [37] Labour’s appeal was towards pragmatically letting their Government get on with the job. “If a foundation is laid, and you remove the builders replacing them with others carrying different plans what kind of mess are they going to make of the building”, Joe Champion, Labour’s candidate in South East Derbyshire, asked rhetorically of one audience in the election campaign of 1950. It is of incidental interest here to note that the future leader of South East Derbyshire council and later a senior figure in the DTC and DCS, John Dilks, made his debut on the platform as a 16 year old Labour League of Youth speaker. [38]
For their part, the Tories referred to the “disaster of 1945”, claiming that Labour was holding back on national recovery by its state interventionist policies, which they said owed more to Marxism than Labour would admit. The press dubbed the election the “Housewives Election”, as they themselves concentrated on the high price of food and the inconvenience of continuing rationing. [39] The outcome was a bitter disappointment for Labour, but it held onto office with a very slight overall majority of six. There were 315 Labour, 298 Tory, 9 Liberal and 2 Irish nationalist MPS in the Commons after the results were declared. Due to the oddities of the electoral system, Labour won 13.25 million votes, 0.75 million more than the Tories, but this margin was not accurately reflected in its majority. Conservative Party organisation had improved phenomenally since their debacle in 1945. Local Tory Associations had in the past been little more than social groupings, concerned with fund raising activities. Now they took on the appearance of an organised political party and this factor alone, irrespective of Labour’s problems as a government, greatly assisted in their recovery.
In Derbyshire, Benson held Chesterfield for Labour easily, almost a third of his total votes constituting his majority. Labour had a minor challenge from the left. Baz Barker, a well known local Communist, stood for the CP and received 554 votes, or 1% of the total. Barker was subsequently president of the Chesterfield Trades Council for many years and was eventually so well respected locally that he was conferred with the freedom of the town in 1984. Phillip Noel-Baker, now a Minister of Fuel and Power, held Derby North with a huge majority of some 13,000 on an 87% turnout, whilst Wilcox did as well in Derby South. Champion held the South East Derbyshire seat, Brown took Belper again, despite the intervention of Sam Middup for the Tories. He was a former president of the Newstead Colliery NUM branch, but the appeal to ‘workerism’ did little for the Tories. Neal, White and Oliver retained their seats in Bolsover, North East Derbyshire, and Ilkeston respectively. Labour did well in High Peak, but not nearly well enough to win. This was also the case in West Derbyshire, where Norman Gratton carried the Labour flag.
The views of manual workers in the North and Midlands had changed little, but the better off Home Counties voters, afraid that their status might be eroded, reverted back to Toryism. The political climate was turning sharply to the right. Newspapers were full of talk of civil defence; there were glamorous advertisements for the armed forces and especially the Territorial Army. People seriously talked of the coming third world war. Even under a Labour Government, Britain was well and truly part of the US Cold War alliance against the USSR. The outbreak of war in Korea in 1950, where that nation was divided between a pro-Soviet north and a pro-US south, was the signal for the development of a major anti-communist campaign in the press and radio. A J Champion came out with a sharp and vitriolic attack on Communism, contrasting markedly with his talk of the good intentions of the Soviets after returning from the USSR from a trip of friendship in 1947-78. Supporting re-armament, he argued that an ideological war had to be waged. “If you cannot prevent Communism seeping into the factories, even the atomic bomb will avail you nothing.” [40] By this, Champion thus linked political differences between the official leadership of the labour movement and the left, in particular the CP, with the state tensions between the US, the USSR and their respective allies.
While Labour seemed to be admitting to a previous softness on Communism by the hard line now being adopted, the Tories cleverly carried their campaign into the labour movement itself. An ASLEF activist from Darley Dale joined the Conservative Party in 1950, amidst much publicity when he spoke at their Blackpool conference. He became the chairman of the West Derbyshire Trade Union Committee of the Conservative Party, a reflection of the fact that the efforts of the Tories to project an image favourable to organised workers were now beginning to pay some dividends. [41] Shortages of coal and metals created serious problems for the Government and these were quickly seized upon by the Tories as evidence of the incompetence of state ‘dictatorship’ in industry. Added to growing disillusionment, the Government faced a leadership crisis. Within a year or so of its re-election, two key national figures were dead – Bevin and Cripps – while Attlee was seriously ill. He recovered sufficiently to stay at the helm for four more years, but a leadership crisis was now clearly upon Labour. There were suspicions that Attlee remained leader to deny it to Herbert Morrison and intense rivalry about the succession was added to already existing political tensions.
Serious industrial relations problems also began to emerge and the old-style trade union leaders found it increasingly difficult to control their membership. Strike action was once again made legal in 1951, although compulsory arbitration could still be invoked by either the employer or the employee, this feature only ending in 1958. The inflationary strain on the economy caused by the Korean war ensured a dramatic rise in prices. Trade unions began to learn to use aggressive collective bargaining strength to defend and then extend the living circumstances of their members. Gaitskell, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, proposed a budget in 1951 which sought to pay for the re-armament programme. This was not popular amongst trades unionists and, with a marginal majority and much dissention in the ranks, a general election was planned for 1951. For the first time in almost thirty years, Labour’s election manifesto did not include the word ‘socialist’. The winning manifesto of 1945 had proudly proclaimed Labour’s socialism, while the 1950 manifesto talked of working towards socialism. The 1951 manifesto was less ambiguous; socialism was no longer on the agenda, seemingly. Critics of the leadership, such as Aneurin Bevan, were used by the Tories as a scare factor. The Conservative candidate in South East Derbyshire in the 1951 election declared that Bevan was the stuff of which dictators are made. A vote for Labour is a vote for Bevan, he declared. The left winger was a “power hungry” man, aiming to use his “tomahawk” on the scalps of Attlee and Morrison. [42] In the event, Labour took the highest vote ever achieved by any party with 14 million votes. Yet the Tories, with 0.25 million votes less than Labour, achieved an overall majority of 17 seats.
Brown took Belper again, with an increased share of the poll. White was back at North East Derbyshire, as was Neal at Bolsover and Oliver at Ilkeston. The first two with a similar vote as in 1950, the latter also increased his share of the vote. Champion had a larger vote in South East Derbyshire and so did Benson in Chesterfield. Wilcox and Noel-Baker improved their performances in the two Derby constituencies. The Tories took HighPeak and West Derbyshire with slightly increased majorities. The local elections which followed seemed to confirm the general mood, with the Tories gaining seats despite a reaffirmation of Labour’s strength in its most loyal areas. Labour had gained office in an atmosphere of intense optimism, it left Britain changed in form but not in fundamentals. Lasting change in the ownership of property and wealth had not come about, despite the many valuable reforms. Two fifths of all wealth was still in the hands of 1% of the adult population. There was however a big change, a broad consensus in politics and industry had now been achieved. In particular was a far reaching change in attitude of the State to wage regulation. It had been widely agreed in the war period that the Government should intervene to some extent in the bargaining arena. Now, academics and others pressed firmly for the Government to inform the nation of the amount by which “the total sum of wages and salaries could rise during the ensuing twelve months without adding to inflationary pressure”. [43]
In May 1952, R A Butler, the Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer, proposed a National Joint Advisory Council of the TUC, the employers’ confederation and the nationalised industries to find ways of relating wages to productivity. This theme would emerge time and time again in the post-war years. The notion of co-operating with a Tory Government was a bit too much for many trades unionists to swallow. A resolution put at the annual TUC by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU), which then had a Communist leadership, rejected the policy of “restraint” or “moderation” on wages. The motion was lost by a margin of 4.9 million to 2.6 million votes. Lincoln Evans, leader of the steel workers, put the General Council’s position. “There is no Tory policy of wage restraint; there is no Labour policy of wage restraint. There is a trade union policy of wage restraint.” For this rather thin reason, the General Council called for a rejection of the ETU proposal, because it declared that “no policy on wage restraint shall be endorsed”. [44] The position adopted by the TUC would very soon have to be reconsidered in the light of experience.
News that a recession in trade was hitting Derbyshire came with reports that short time working was being introduced in many enterprises in the county. Masson Mills, which was English Sewing’s Matlock Bath establishment, closed for seven days. Everlastic at Somercotes closed for a month, putting 150 out of work. Over a thousand people in the South Normanton, Pinxton, Alfreton and Selston areas alone were placed on short time over the 1951 Christmas holidays. Brettles and Blounts laid people off. [45] A shortage of steel hit many manufacturing firms, British Railways made 140 redundant at the end of January 1952. Unemployment in the North Midlands area was at its highest since the bad winter of 1947. More were made redundant at the Carriage and Wagon works, but the individuals were nearly all absorbed by internal reorganisation. Short time working did not always do the trick, several hundred were completely laid off at Celanese, after the working week had been reduced in stages from 47 to 44, which was then the normal working week, and then to 40 hours. [46] Belper Trades Council held a rally on the serious situation facing the textile industry. J Charlesworth of the Hosiery Finishers Association told the mass meeting that the “greatest menace to full employment in the hosiery and textile trade was Japanese competition, the extent of which would be seen in the next few years”. [47]
A shift back to Labour in the April 1952 local elections was seen as being a “reaction against the stringent measures undertaken by the Conservative Government, and typified by Mr Butler’s Budget proposals”. The austerity measures had serious implications for local government, especially in education. The DTC voted 75 to 1 for a composite motion proposed by the AESD No. 1, Tailor and Garment Workers and TSSA branches which expressed “deep concern” at the Tory Government’s cuts in the education spending of local authorities for 1952-3. There was a deep worry that progress towards educational opportunity and equality would be undermined. [48] Such concerns bolstered Labour’s uncertain support and its successes in the local elections spurred the Tories to launch a summer propaganda campaign in Derby. It was one indication that the Conservative Party had adopted a more up to date approach, with a serious attempt to redefine its image. There had been speculation that Churchill, then still Tory premier, was very ill. In early 1955, this fact was publicly conceded.
AntonyEden was rapidly made the new leader and PM in April and there was talk of a snap general election. But not before a special give-away, tax cutting budget had been put together by Butler and officially announced on April 19th. The Labour leadership was in absolute disarray, with widespread talk of its disunity and the probably accurate suggestion made by the Tories and the media that the parliamentary leadership of the Labour Party actually supported much the same policy as pursued by Butler in the economic field. Gaitskell’s name was linked to his in the phrase ‘Butskellite’, denoting the consensus politics favoured by Labour’s right wing. These factors, along with the poor state of organisation inside the Labour Party and the emergence of television, ensured Labour’s defeat at the election when it came on May 26th 1955.
Another example of Butskellism was the question of industrial militancy, which the leaderships of the three main political parties all deprecated as it once more came onto the agenda. Strikes had been quite rare in the early 1950s, but from 1955 onwards they became increasingly common. There were good reasons for this. In April 1955, it was reported that “at no time in the last 15 years has the labour supply position in Derby been more acute”. This was especially so of skilled engineering workers and of unskilled workers in all trades. Only 357 people were registered as wholly unemployed. [49] The Government kept its distance during a sharp battle over wages in the engineering industry in 1954 and very favourable increases had been registered. The example spread to many industries. These battles generated some controversy. George Brown, during the 1955 election campaign, considered the wave of strikes as irresponsible; “they are endangering everything”, he said. [50] The border between the main political parties may have seemed somewhat blurred, but the response of the relatively affluent South East of England was to opt for the real thing. In Labour’s heartlands, traditional loyalties, moulded in less affluent times, still exercised influence.
Brown was returned in Belper, as were Wilcox and Noel Baker in Derby, who also registered reduced majorities. George Oliver kept his Ilkeston seat, due to a high turnout with a massive, but reduced majority; as did Benson in Chesterfield and Neal in Bolsover. White perversely increased Labour’s majority in North East Derbyshire, but in the main Labour’s MPs held on with less support. The Tories predictably retained West Derbyshire and HighPeak, where Labour seemed no longer to even have a base from which to work from to aspire to win the seats. A close result was expected in South East Derbyshire, especially after the Labour stronghold of Chaddesden, a council estate north east of Derby town centre and on the edges of the town, was transferred to Derby North. Nonetheless, Joe Champion was returned for the seat. The local elections of that year once again confirmed the general trend of the moment. There was a low poll, reflecting disillusionment amongst Labour’s supporters and a swing to the right in terms of the distribution of seats. Clearly, the Labour Party had problems, to say the least.
Labour’s leadership was very elderly, nine members of the Shadow Cabinet were over the pensionable age. Attlee resigned at the end of 1955, paving the way for Gaitskell who was to win the election for leader, which was then held exclusively amongst MPS. His lead over his rival, Aneurin Bevan, was fairly comfortable, despite the fact that the loser was more popular amongst Labour and trade union activists. Three powerful men, Arthur Deakin of the TGWU, Will Lawther of the NUM and Tom Williamson of the NUGMW all but determined the result of the leadership contest. This weakness initiated a debate about not only the method of selection, but the nature of the new leader. But even more negative was the incompetence of the Tory Government and protest against AntonyEden’s Government served to unite the movement.
Events in the Middle East lead to military action by Britain to protect its oil and semi-colonial interests. The invasion of Egypt in 1956, over the nationalisation of the Suez Canal, lead to mass protests throughout the country. A ‘Law Not War’ meeting was held in Derby in November 1956 under the auspices of local representatives of the National Council of Labour, which united the Labour Party, the TUC and the Go-ops and confidence of the labour movement rose markedly. This tripartite structure was often referred to as the National Council of Labour, even in its local form. In a seemingly parallel development to Suez, the USSR and its allies used military means to control signs of independence and dissent in Hungary, a move which caused one third of the membership of the British Communist Party to leave overnight. Disillusionment with the eastern bloc reached a new high. The TUC launched a fund called “Help for Hungary” and the DTC donated ten guineas to this, as well as calling upon trades unionists to support the Derby Mayoral Fund. In this complex and fluid atmosphere, Bevan was made Shadow Foreign Secretary with the support of the right of the Labour Party. In deference to this gesture, Bevan changed his immediate policy if not his deeper convictions on the issue of nuclear disarmament. Harold MacMillan was then brought in as premier after Eden’s resignation. After many years of espousing Butskellism, he was to prove to be a master of such consensus politics in action.
The Labour Party faced a serious demise in organisational strength, as young people began to drift towards more experimental forms of protest. Derby Labour Party lost membership in 1956 and 1957, despite the mass protests over Suez and the growing concern over nuclear weaponry. The DLP reported “considerable difficulty” in retaining members and its financial position gave rise to concern. [51] The annual report complained of political apathy. A seat had been lost in the inner city working class ward of Normanton in a poll of 36%, the lowest turnout for many years. It was the start of a slide towards cynicism amongst the electorate. The Derbyshire Advertiser concurred with the view that apathy would be the biggest obstacle, not just for Labour but for all parties in the May 1957 local elections.
Apathy and disillusionment was a common feature of the 1950s for the labour movement, including the trades unions. Branch life was severely affected by a range of competing leisure interests. Rallies and demonstrations were marked by a general lack of enthusiasm, compared to earlier and later periods, all perhaps partly caused by disappointments of political life. A call was made for a good attendance at the May Day rally in 1951 by Derby’s May Day Committee, which united the Trades Council, the Labour Party and the Co-operative movement. Chas Howell and H J I Russell, as the secretaries of the DTC and the DLP respectively, asked for this as a “Declaration of Faith in our Movement” for the situation was that “of late years, the attendance has not been a credit to organised Labour”. [52] The very next year, Howell was obliged to send out another reminder, this time only over his own name. Somewhat acidly, he was to comment: “it is small wonder that the younger Trades Unionists are apathetic towards such demonstrations when their older brothers are equally so”. [53] In 1954, the problem reached a head. The May Day Committee had recommended a Sunday evening rally at the Central Hall in Derby. One delegate had disagreed, in a controversy over the starting time, arguing that “not only the rich possessed T.V. sets and that working people were entitled to their entertainment”. Doug Coleman thought that such a view could be carried too far, “there might be Jane Russell in Derby on 3-D”. The implication being that bowing towards any flippancy might hinder the movement’s activities. T J Potts, the DTC president commented: “Doug is bit out of date. There is Marilyn Monroe now.” The local press carried the report under the headline: “May Day, T.V. and Marilyn Monroe.”
In the event, the turnout was appalling. Cyril Bradley of the TGWU thought it “an utter failure”. Jim Potts said that it was “one of the worst I have ever attended”. Roland Buxton, described as ‘father’ of the council by virtue of his length of service, had been attending May Day demonstrations since almost the turn of the century. He could remember processions of a thousand of more and thought it “was time we got back to those days”. 63 people had attended a Sunday afternoon meeting addressed by Geoffrey de Freitas MP Chas Howell said that those who had attended were the elderly, who were still loyal to the movement. A good television programme, such as `What’s My Line’, would keep people at home. [54] The post-mortem lingered on over the rest of 1954. In October, the EC reported to the full council that it was “of the opinion that May Day Demonstrations … (had) … outlived its usefulness and … it has been decided not to proceed with arrangements for a May Day Demonstration in 1955”. It was eventually decided that the DTC should keep its annual dinner and, although the May Day demonstration was not immediately abandoned, it would be many years before the event assumed more substance than a Sunday morning ritual for a small number of stalwarts. But only after slow resurgence of interest. In 1961, there was a “marked improvement’ in attendance, whilst the 1964 celebrations were an “outstanding success”.
Attendance at Derby’s Trades Council began to fall during the 1950s, from an average of 65 and a high point of 90 delegates in February 1951, to an absolute nadir of 31 in March 1962. Political tensions and an overpowering presence of elderly heavyweights who, it seems, hung on to involvement so as to inhibit leftist tendencies. In April 1956, a typical row over five procedural motions, which were put and lost, saw a “long and acrimonious discussion”. This was only resolved by the EC recommendation being approved by 26 votes to 22, with no less than 20 delegates abstaining. Such controversies, which were little related to the needs of ordinary trades union members, did little to encourage newer and younger delegates to become involved. The situation only slowly improved as the 1960s unfolded. Figures for attendance in the minutes books show an average of around 45 delegates in the 1960s and around 54 for the 1970s.
A new generation of activists entered the council and attempted to uplift its work. A special meeting of the Trades Council was called in March 1962, to consider sponsoring a candidate for the June 1962 elections for the Board of Directors for the Derby Co-operative Society. The Council had done so the previous year. Five nominations were received and a ballot was held to decide upon the DATUC nomination. (The Trade Council from 1963 began to refer to itself as the Derby Area Trades Union Council, ostensibly because there was confusion in the public area with the Chamber of Trade and Commerce. The new designation of Derby Area TUC, however, obviously presented a more authoritative image.) It was decided to support W Simms, but his candidature was not successful. Disappointment was expressed subsequently at the “lack of support for Bro. Simms”, implying that a concerted effort to get behind him had not occurred. It was decided to begin even earlier in the year for the campaign in 1963. From herein, the same left activists in both the Trades Council and the local Co-op became increasingly prominent. Perhaps in a response to this threat, a move was made in 1969 to change the method by which the Derby Co-op chose its three key officers from election to appointment ostensibly to face commercial pressures. However, largely due to a strong campaign by activists against this, the move failed to reach the necessary two-thirds majority to become a constitutional amendment.
In 1965, DATUC obtained an office at 15 Charnwood Street at a cost of £65 a year. Interest in its activities was still variable. The minutes of DATUC noted of the 1970 wreath laying ceremony at the Silk Mill gates that “attendance left much to be desired”, but, in contrast, that “attendance was to capacity” at the May Day dance. A rough guide to the fortunes of DATUC is its income from membership affiliation; inflation was not very great before the late 1960s, so some judgement is possible without adjusting the figures:
                      Year                    £       s        d
                      1948                209       4        6
                      1950                155       5        9
                      1960                224    15        3
                      1968                344       1        5
                      1971                494       0        2
                      1973                555    13p
A comparison of DATUC affiliations in 1969 is interesting for what it reveals about the balance between ‘older’ and ‘newer’ unions. The transport unions provided roughly an eighth of the membership, but the white collar unions contributed double that. In 1972 there were a total of 26,750 members affiliated to DATUC. [55]
As for the Labour Party, membership theoretically soared during the 1940s and 1950s, but this was largely due to the sudden jump in trade union affiliates. Individual membership reached a national peak of one million in 1952, only to decline rapidly over the next three decades. Individual membership of the Derby Labour Party was about 4,000 in 1948. In Clay Gross, there were a mere 15 members of the party by the end of the decade and only two Labour councillors, despite the area being such a solid one for the party in general elections. [56] It seemed that Labour was about to loose all popularity, as open warfare developed in the party. Left-right conflict had surfaced sharply in March 1952. Opponents of the vitriolic cold war policies of the leadership were constitutionally gagged; the dissolution of the Bevanite group of MPS was demanded. Left MPS were associated with the weekly newspaper, Tribune, and there was support locally for it even in some surprising quarters. There were often to be seen “posters extolling the left wing Tribune in the window of the divisional office (of the Labour Party) then in Green Lane”, all during the 1950s. Labour’s agent, Jack Bird, was sympathetic and many of the leading Bevanites, such as Barbara Castle, came to Derby to speak. [57] The issue of re-arming West Germany became a major source of conflict in 1954, while the support of the front bench for the manufacture of the hydrogen bomb had raised the serious possibility of Bevan’s expulsion from the party.
Local MPs were however generally very unsympathetic to the Bevanites. George Brown was violently hostile in his attitude to the left. Wilcox was in favour of an independent nuclear weapon, but he felt that US troops should leave Britain if the deterrent effect were proven. Joe Champion believed the bomb to be the “only way out of a difficult situation” and that “quarrels in the Labour Party” over the issue arose out of “clashing personalities”. [58] It would have greatly concerned the local leadership of the Labour Party that DATUC voted by 37 to 25 to approve a motion put by R Scherer of USDAW, asking the TUC to reconsider its position on German re­armament, “in view of the opposition expressed by the West German TUC”. D Cassidy of the Scientific Workers strongly opposed the proposal, by putting the argument for world disarmament as only being possible by first re-arming Germany. Chas Howell thought that there was a danger of being “dragged into war” by the US policy of supporting any nation or group which called itself anti-communist. He believed that the Americans could best fight Communism by using “some of their huge wealth” to improve the conditions of countries which were “vulnerable to Communism”. [59]
In contrast to Labour’s problems and reduced membership, the Liberals claimed a new sense of confidence and a massive growth in membership and public interest in 1958. Labour entered the 1959 General Election with more unity and vigour than it might perhaps have had the right to expect. The visit of Labour’s leader, Gaitskell, to Derby in March 1959 was occasioned by the sale up to that point of 3,500 copies of Labour’s keynote policy pamphlet, “The Future Labour Offers You”. By September, over 5,000 copies had been sold in Derby and 400 new members won. Despite television coverage of the election reaching new heights, Labour’s campaigning was still rather old fashioned, if surprisingly effective in places. Over a thousand people turned out to hear Hugh Gaitskell in a packed Market Place in Long Eaton on Sunday 27th September. [60] But many in the wider electorate genuinely wondered what there was to choose between Labour and Tory. Labour went out of its way to guarantee not to increase taxation to pay for its programme of reform, whilst the Tories stressed the buoyancy of the economy and advocated a social welfare outlook seemingly little different in substance from their rivals. After the result of the October election, the Tories gained an increased majority to 100 seats over all other parties. The Liberals did see a rise in their popular vote, but this was not translated into seats. There was a record poll in Derbyshire, George Benson, now Sir George, kept Chesterfield with a slightly increased vote. All of Labour’s other MPS had reduced shares of the vote: Brown (Belper), Neal (Bolsover), Oliver (Ilkeston), Champion (South East Derbyshire) and White (North East Derbyshire) were all returned. Labour’s General Secretary, Morgan Phillips, had been involved in the rejection of Tom Swain, a face worker at Staveley colliery, for the latter seat for being too left wing. But, nonetheless, in a different atmosphere, Swain was eventually to become an MP. Noel-Baker and Wilcox fared slightly more badly in the two Derby seats than their colleagues elsewhere in the county, but also retained them.
After the election, concerned at the Liberal Party’s apparent revival, Gaitskell unsuccessfully proposed the abolition of Clause 4 of the Labour Party’s constitution, which committed it to socialism. His view was that a shift in position was necessary to accommodate a more realistic view of modern Britain. Tension in the party mounted at this onslaught against the very foundations of the organisation. The 1960 conference of the party voted for a policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament, being bolstered by a sudden leftwards shift in the leadership of the TGWU, with the arrival of Frank Cousins as General Secretary. Gaitskell made this snub an issue of his leadership and was able to reverse the policy the following year. But the election of Cousins was to have major repercussions for the balance of forces between the left and the right in the labour movement. There were of course supporters for nuclear unilateralism in Derbyshire. The Area NUM had an unsuccessful motion on the issue at the 1959 national conference of the union and a march for peace was organised by Derby CND in September 1960 in the Market Place. The major demand was for the withdrawal of NATO bases in Britain and the event was notable for the strong presence of local Quakers. But support for CND was still controversial, and the Derby Trades Council (DATUC) “agreed no action be taken re invitation to Council to send a delegate” to the local CND in January 1961. [61]
5 The independent left in Derby
A E Jarvis had taken part in the 1950 local elections for the Communist Party, only getting 104 votes. The Sons of St George fascists had disappeared from the scene and the CP faced an uphill struggle in the prevalent anti-communism, which had become almost an industry. Right wing pressure groups inside the trade union movement did much to whittle away at the considerable base which the CP had. This was especially true of Catholic trades unionists and the church sought consciously to challenge Communism in its most fertile areas. The liaison committee of the newly formed Federation of Catholic Trades Unionists held a weekend conference in Derby in 1950. Membership of this body was estimated at 30,000 in England and Wales alone.
As if to disprove the accusations that they believed in dictatorship and not democracy, the CP gaily entered into the electoral sphere regardless of the odds against their breaking the mould of British politics. Whilst the ideological fervour which had motivated the anti-communism of the 1950s was abating a little, the Communist Party in Derby was in terminal decline but did not know it. Doug Coleman, a British Rail coachbuilder, was entered in Bridge ward as a Communist candidate against the Tory Mayor, Councillor Z P Grayson, in the municipal elections of May 8th 1952. This was despite the convention that political parties would not force the Mayor to defend his seat. Coleman, then 34 years old, a Communist Party member by then for 17 years and a delegate to the Derby Trades Council for 7 years, pointed out his policy in a letter to the editor of the Derbyshire Advertiser. “Tory leaders are traitors to our great country by placing it under economic subjugation to the USA.” For his part, he stood for “breaking the grip of the American millionaires upon our country”.
Despite the trenchant words, Coleman polled only 78 votes to the Mayor’s 1,901. [62] The Communist Party had another go at elections in Derby in 1953, when Coleman stood in Markland’s old ILP stronghold, but only took 42 votes to Labour’s 765. In 1954, he stood in Osmaston ward, getting 89 votes. Meanwhile, Labour gained three seats from the Tories, increasing its overall majority in the borough to 24. Clearly, the electoral strategy, which went hand in hand with the party’s programme, the British Road to Socialism, was not working in places like Derby which were characteristic of most of the country. Only in a few selected localities, mainly in, Scotland, Wales, London and a few isolated places, did Communists make a breakthrough. Derbyshire was not one of them.
The real power base of the Communist Party was at least well understood by the Labour MP Woodrow Wyatt, who developed for himself a handy sideline as a professional anti-communist in the media. Derbyshire Area NUM secretary and Communist, Bert Wynn, was defeated by a two to one vote in the elections for the area’s seat on the NUM national executive. In normal circumstances, this was a position which Wynn ought to-have been able to rely upon winning. But Wyatt ran a dirty campaign in the-media, which was designed specifically to exclude Wynn. He claimed that five out of 50 Derbyshire NUM branches were “firmly controlled by the Communists”. [63] This was just the tip of the iceberg of a continuing campaign against trade union militancy in general and Communist trades unionists in particular. Industrialists like Max Bemrose, of the well known Derby family firm, worried over how to extricate Communist Party influence in their own workplaces. He suggested in a letter to the Times in May 1956, that ballots of workers on major issues should be held in works time. Moral Rearmament was increasingly bankrolled by big business and able to make its existence well appreciated; the movement was able to send a copy of its manifesto to every home in Derbyshire in 1960. When the MRA founder, Frank Buchman, died in August 1961, two former Mayors of Derby, an MP, a minister of religion, an architect, and a retired colonel paid tributes in Derby. A MRA statement of principles, signed by 550 prominent individuals from Derby, including 200 people from Rolls Royce ranging from senior management to apprentices, was presented to Parliament in 1963. [64]
Even so, there was much acceptance of the need to develop trade links with the USSR and its allies. There was some optimism about this, the Bishop of Derby visited the Soviet Union and met church leaders there. Paul Robson, the celebrated African-American singer, actor and political activist, was warmly greeted in March 1960 by 1,500 people who turned out at the King’s Hall in Derby. His passport had been cancelled by the US State Department in 1950 in retaliation for his sympathy for Communism. Robson’s records were banned and he was denied concerts in the US itself. Yet his warmth and personal magnetism won over many ordinary people and the circumstances of his British tour signified the easing of the most muscular forms of anti-communism.
For a short while in the early 1960s, the Communist Party appeared to slightly recover from the disastrous experience of a departure of a third of its members after the events in Hungary and the revelations about Stalin. But for the rest of the decade it began a process of slow decline, which was rapidly accentuated in later years by deep divisions and splits. In Derby, the party began to atrophy and its membership became increasingly elderly and remote from the wider movement. Things were somewhat different in Chesterfield, but the Derbyshire Advertiser’s report on July 3rd 1964, on the death of one elderly supporter, seems to sum up the increasing marginalisation of the party in much of the county.
The Communist Party benefited from the will of James Stafford Freeborough of Hall Bank, Hartington, who had died aged 90 that weekend. Freeborough “had all the appearance of a typical retired English gentleman” having been a mining and ship’s engineer. He had taken part in the Californian gold rush when a young man and was able to leave no less than £8,267 to the party, its youth league, the ‘red’ Dean of Canterbury, Hewlett Johnson, and to prominent Communists Willie Gallagher, John Ross Campbell. (Multiply by at least a factor of ten to get a sense of value of this.) By the 1970s, Derby Communist Party membership was down to, at the most, two score. The branch was increasingly insular, despite many individual members continuing to play a respected role within the wider, local labour movement.
As for the ILP, it had long since reversed its disaffiliation from the Labour Party but was rapidly diminishing as a political force. This was especially due to the fading of the notion of the Labour Party as an alliance of all working class groups. Tom Markland was the only remaining councillor the ILP held in Derby after the war. The DLP tolerated him with more than a little wry affection, as a reformed maverick, never putting an official Labour candidate against him. Markland had been a foundation member of the ILP and had represented Castle Ward continuously since 1928. A member of the Board of Guardians since 1922, he joined the Social Welfare Committee of the local authority which followed. By 1950, he was the sole remaining ILP councillor in England. A retired shunter, living in Gladstone Street, at the grand age of 81, he was considered by all councillors to be the ‘father’ of the council.
In March 1953, he announced his attention not to contest the May municipal elections and an official Labour candidate stood for the first time for three decades, it was the end of an era in more ways than one. [65] The ultimate insult to the memory of the once proud and strong ILP was that its Keir Hardie headquarters were gradually transformed in a social club and eventually a working men’s’ club called the Hardie, which consciously effaced its origins and lost collective memory of these, as did the Clarion Club.
6 Racism and immigration – a potent scapegoat as boom turns to slump
Pressure from the right to introduce a formal colour bar in Britain fell on receptive ears in Winston Churchill’s cabinet. In February 1954, such a bar in civil service recruitment was actively contemplated. While ways of stopping mass immigration from the West Indies and Asia were considered one full year before the first major wave of immigration tapered off anyway. Some Tories wanted even to end Irish immigration and to encourage white Anglo-Saxons from Australia and Canada to come to Britain. [66] The boom stimulated by post-war rearmament was still evident and there seemed to be no end in sight for the prosperity it brought, so these measures were avoided. At the time, there were around 40,000 black and Asian people in Britain, not a large number by later standards; there were very few outside Derby in the county. The first West Indian bus conductor appeared on Derby’s buses in 1956. After six months on the job he was to say: “Things were a little difficult at first, but now I am accepted along with the rest.” He was soon joined by a dozen others from the Caribbean. [68]
It was reported by the Employment Committee that difficulties were beginning to be experienced in finding jobs for “coloured workers” in Derby. Six months previously, new arrivals had been placed within days, but it had become more difficult. The secretary of the committee, J K MacArthur, commented with candour on the lack of educational and medical qualifications of the new arrivals. Declaring his unease, MacArthur said: “Each ship load that leaves the West Indies seems to contain a contingent for Derby.” Some, he complained, were “inclined to be choosey in their jobs and expect rates of pay and conditions of work that were not obtainable”. [68] Attitudes to the new arrivals were not generally pleasant. Speaking on the education and housing problems of black people at the Derby Trades Council, Councillor John Dilworth reinforced the majority view in the labour movement against formal colour bars. “This is not the State of Arkansas. There is no segregation in the schools here.”[69]
Even so, there was by no means an absence of those views which end in legislative segregation. Racist views were more than evident, although sometimes implicitly. More with an eye on the impact of immigration on the labour market, Les Clay, a mainstream activist for very many years in Derby’s labour movement, recalled that trades unionists were concerned that Ley’s Foundry and British Celanese welcomed Asian labour in large numbers, despite “many warnings from some trade unions about the system of importing large numbers of immigrants in the good times”. [70] More explicit was the response of around 300 men in the National Union of Stove Grate and General Metal Workers at Glow-worm’s boiler factory in Milford in 1959. They promptly came out on strike when the company employed an Asian worker. The men had warned the company six months previously, when labour from India had been taken on for the first time, not to repeat this. The firm had agreed, saying that it would “employ coloured labour if white workers were not available and that if any redundancy should arise, necessitating dismissal, the coloured workers would be the first to go”. [71]
One of the individuals whose employment caused the dispute, Sohan Lal, revealed that he was “bewildered and confused by the whole business”. He and his six fellow Indians stood firm when the white men demanded Lal’s dismissal. Jack Higham, the NUSGGMW General Secretary, and J Wathall, the chief shop steward, engaged in day long negotiations, but the company was apparently unwilling to move. Higham decided to refer the dispute to his executive. B W Payne, the director of the company, made a public statement that there was “no question of replacing Sohan Lal”. But that is exactly what happened. Before the men returned to work on Monday, the Punjabi was obliged to begin job-hunting once again. The attitudes displayed by the Glow-worm employees were absolutely typical; even if not every section resorted to strike action many threatened it. In the absence of any restraining legislation or firm guidance from employers, most black and Asian people faced daily verbal intimidation, even if it was of the supposedly semi-humorous variety. While many professed an absence of racism, the actual practice of most big firms left much to be desired. J F H Walker, the headmaster of Pear Tree Secondary Modern School, made a clear charge at the school’s speech day that Indian pupils had been turned down for apprenticeships. None of the major firms in Derby were prepared to admit to operating a colour bar, but the Advertiser unearthed some off the record statements of justification, such as: “These coloured people flit about so.” It was easier for firms to blame shop floor reaction as the main reason why blacks did not get fair treatment. [72]
7 A new style of industrial relations emerges
The sudden prosperity which came with relatively full employment focused attention on the ‘problem’ of wages drift. The Tory Government had taken steps to force wages restraint to control inflation and this had of course had an immediate effect on employment. With less money around, demand was stifled and the need for labour trimmed. To make matters worse, the wartime birth bulge caused a serious problem in employment, according to the CountyYouth Service in 1958. [73] More people were reported out of work in the Derby area in January 1958 than for years. English Sewing Cotton announced short time, H J Enthoven’s lead smelters made 80 redundant. Half of the employees at Peckwash’s glove manufacturers in Little Eaton were made redundant. For the first time since the war, it was reported that men were calling at factories and asking for work. [74]
The policy of wage restraint seemed not to be working. The engineering employers resisted demands for substantial improvements in pay in 1957, “not so much because they could not find the money for pay increases, but because they believed, and the government did too, that temporary wage restraint in an inflationary economy was essentially in the national interest”. [75] But the pressure for wage rises was great and by late 1960 the average weekly earnings of male workers were £14 10s 6d and employment in the winter of 1959-60 was considered by the Employment Committee of the Ministry of Labour to be “remarkably stable” for the time of the year. Most groups of workers were able to maximise the advantaged position they were in. Yet some sections fell behind considerably, as the pace of wage rises quickened. From 1948 to 1959, average rises of 74% were won in all industries but, for example, bus workers only gained 59.3% in rises over the period. A national newspaper strike in 1955, which lasted four weeks, resulted in new bargaining arrangements with the Newspaper Proprietors Association and an era of union power and competitiveness between newspaper titles emerged. A divergence between Fleet Street and the provincial press was inevitable. Four years later another national newspaper printing dispute hit local papers, which came out in truncated versions set by apprentices. The Derbyshire Advertiser produced six “emergency issues” over June, July and August of 1959. An old flatbed press at the Ashbourne office of the paper was used. The Derby branch of the Typographical Association requested and received the enthusiastic assistance of the Derby Trades Council to “encourage officers and members of all affiliated unions to resist, where practicable, any extension in the use of office printing machinery”. [76]
The TUC had refused to co-operate with earlier Government attempts to control wages, but now toyed with the idea. By successive measures, culminating in the Terms and Conditions of Employment Act of 1959, compulsory arbitration as a left­ over from the war was abolished and free collective bargaining substituted. Some trade union leaders contemplated the possibility of a wages policy directly linked to productivity. This came just as there was a marked trend in industry towards work study. The very complexity of bargaining around these matters brought a greater involvement of local representatives of workers. Many companies had retained some form of consultative machinery from the wartime experience and the new climate seemed to favour a revamp of works committees with a wider remit than merely negotiating wages. Such bodies did not exercise themselves “with or interfere in the functions of Management, nor … discuss a matter likely to become the subject of an agreement between the company and a Trades Union”. They did discuss working conditions, accident prevention, efficiency of production, incentive schemes, transport to work and recreational matters. Increasingly these items became negotiable; the thin line between consultation and negotiation was easily transgressed. That improvements in incentive schemes could be considered a matter of consultation would be considered unbelievable within a decade, as local piecework and bonus schemes became the very essence of union pay bargaining.
Shop stewards were central to this process. Often, their credentials would be issued jointly in the form of an agreement between the company, the union and the shop steward him or herself. A nine point document was issued by ICI at its Derby works in 1960, in which the steward was firmly and personally committed to all agreements, procedures and disciplinary rules. Again, within a decade, most shop stewards would become more accustomed to a greater flexibility in what he or she could or could not do. Joint Shop Stewards Committees became the norm for shop floor organisation. The constitution used by the JSSC at British Titan Products was used by the national negotiators for CI as the basis for a model draft in 1961. All accredited stewards formed the committee, electing a convenor from amongst their number. There was however still the very important stipulation that kept the official union machinery in touch and to some extent in control, minutes of the meetings had to be submitted to full time officials who could attend committee meetings. Closed shops were often arrived at in practice, rather than by formal agreement. ICI refused to concede an agreement on this. But, in 1960, the TGWU discovered that 10% of the Derby workers were not in a union and an ultimatum was sent to the company. Joe Hull, the District Organiser, promised J B Peel, a local steward, that he would “call a meeting of the union members of this works to decide your future action”. By September 28th, Hull was able to report to J Williams, TGWU National Secretary, that there were now 71 TGWU members and 5 in the NUGMW, which meant “that there is 100% membership at this firm”. [77]
8 Political trends in the 1960s
The 1960s began as they would continue. As a solution to Britain’s economic troubles, the Tory Government in 1961 announced a pay pause. This would take the form of a recommendation to private industry and an example to be set by the public sector. At the same time, negotiations about the possibility of entry in the European Economic Community were begun. Unemployment hit a post-war peak in the winter of 1961-2. By May 1962, unemployment showed a sharp increase even over this position. There were two thousand wholly unemployed in Derby, up four hundred from the previous month. The August out of work figures were the worst for very many years. Against this background, it is not surprising that the Tories felt themselves under pressure. They had been in government for more than a decade and it began to show. When Wilcox, the Derby MP, died in January 1962, aged 63, the resultant by election showed this up clearly. Labour not only kept the seat, but did so crushingly, taking short of 50% of the vote. The Liberals came second, with over 25% of the vote. The Conservative candidate polled 22.4% and an independent trailed far behind. It had been a test for the Government and the result was seen as a dreadful shock for them. “A very surprising result” was how their candidate described it. There had been three thousand redundancies announced in the Rolls Royce group during the campaign. The Tory candidate, Terry Wray, had done himself few favours by wondering what all the fuss was about. “Rolls Royce would still have more employees than two years ago”, he said. He did not believe that “Derby had a serious unemployment problem”. [78]
Rapidly following on from this was the West Derbyshire by election, when former TV presenter, Aidan Crawley easily and unsurprisingly beat Labour’s John Dilks. Despite an 80% poll, the Tory vote slumped to only a little over half what it had been at the General Election. The Government faced intractable problems and maintained the same course, regardless of the poll results. It made a proposal to limit incomes to a general 2.5% limit. The TUC rejected the notion of any kind of state regulated wages rises, but concurred on the need for tripartite arrangements involving Government, unions and employers on key economic matters. The situation was clearly worsening; Derby Trades Council was reduced to sending a deputation to the Mayor to urge a civic lead on the employment scene. In early 1963, the unemployment rate was double that of the previous year, some three thousand were out in Derby. The news that Rolls Royce was declaring a dividend of 6% on the financial year of 1962-3 sat uncomfortably with this situation.
During the course of 1963, Harold Wilson was elected leader of the Labour Party. Given his past tentative flirtation with the Bevanites, this was widely seen as a gesture towards the overwhelming desire in the labour movement and the population at large for change. Despite Wilson’s later, distorted, image of a more seedy and manipulative kind, in the early 1960s he conveyed a mood of confidence in the future and a competence which, in contrast to the upper class image of the Tories, seemed in accord with the technological changes taking place in the latter part of the 20th century. The demise of the Tories as the party of government for most of the next two decades was rooted in the inability of the economic system, as managed by them at least, to meet the ever expanding aspirations of a consumer driven lifestyle. Such aspirations had been exemplified by the Tory slogan of a ‘property owning democracy’, but this collided sharply with the harsh reality of a housing crisis. A new generation, conditioned to expect the benefits of the welfare state found their ambitions clashing with the seemingly archaic visions of the Tories. This had implications for the labour movement’s policies and organisation also.
From a position whereby the Labour Party in Clay Cross was practically moribund in the 1950s, a new generation of young activists dramatically transformed the party’s image. Dennis Skinner was elected to the Urban District Council in 1960, a beginning which was to see a 100% Labour council by 1963. The Labour Party won every seat it contested there, despite some vigorous opposition, at least initially, from the Conservative and Liberal Parties. Eventually, the opposition reached the point of not even bothering to run candidates. There was a freshness amongst Labour’s rank and file which accorded with the mood of the times and, if Skinner’s job was made easier by the fertile ground which he and his comrades operated in, the same mood was obvious in less solidly Labour areas. Derby Labour Party membership showed a slight increase in 1960, up to 2,445 individual members and the trend continued. In local elections in May 1964, Labour gained ground significantly in most parts of the country. The Tories in Derby were shocked by losing a supposedly strong ward. Only three years before, media pundits had believed that Labour needed maybe three general elections to turn the strong tide towards the Tories which had been observable in the 1950s. But Labour emerged as the narrow victor in October 1964. Despite gaining 56 seats, the new Government only had a wafer thin majority of four. The parties were close in the popular vote, Labour taking 44%, only 0.7% ahead of the Tories, yet the party had leapt a huge hurdle in one jump. Many had not believed it possible.
Eric Varley was the winner in Chesterfield. Noel-Baker was back in Derby South. Neil MacDermott, who had taken Derby North in 1962 on the death of Wilcox, was also returned. The increasingly controversial and erratic George Brown was back in Belper, but with the lowest share of the vote he was ever to get. Neal did well in Bolsover, Ray Fletcher was elected an MP for the first time at Ilkeston, after Oliver had retired from a marathon stint. Fletcher first won the nomination as Labour’s candidate, after beating the future NUM Derbyshire and later national General Secretary, Peter Heathfield, in the selection conference vote by a majority of only five delegates’ votes. Both Fletcher and Heathfield would establish reputations on the left of the labour movement. Tom Swain now found his supposed leftism no obstacle to being selected as the Labour candidate for North East Derbyshire. The Tories did badly in HighPeak, but kept the seat and also retained West Derbyshire. But South East Derbyshire which the Tories had gained in 1959 by the narrowest margin in the whole election, of 29 votes, was lost to Labour’s Trevor Park. The former MP, Joe Champion had been made a life peer in 1962 and was Deputy Leader of the House of Lords and a Minister without Portfolio from 1964-7.
The new Government had a series of problems to face, not the least of which was the unfavourable balance of export and import trade. In response to the massive deficit, an autumn budget was produced. This increased pensions and social welfare benefits. Corporation Tax and Capital Gains Tax were introduced, but in response the financiers of the international money market caused a run on the pound which strained reserves. Nonetheless, Britain’s trading position was improved by a series of fiscal measures, but Wilson’s Government failed to tackle many of the economic problems at their roots. There was a desperate need to cut capital investment abroad and to abolish the enormous military expenditure abroad, especially ‘east of Suez’. But the Government balked at the political task involved in adopting such a course. As a consequence, Britain was forced to borrow vastly from foreign bankers to maintain such an expenditure.
Part of the price to pay for the situation was the introduction of a wages controls policy. The three main aspects of a modern industrial relations strategy had now clearly emerged, that is to say collective bargaining, statutory regulations and arbitration awards. Whilst union amalgamations were eased with the passing of the Trade Union (Amalgamations) Act of 1964. On the economic front, Labour’s manifesto had talked of a planned growth of incomes, related to production. But it now became clear that a formal wages restraint policy had always been planned. Within days of the election this policy was set in motion. A tripartite declaration of intent was marginally agreed to by the TUC. A board to control prices and incomes was set up, whilst the Government rapidly moved away from its earlier commitment to public expenditure projects. The ill-fated National Plan was designed to cut the trading deficit by a massive and sustained economic growth. At first this was warmly applauded by the media and the Tories allowed the Plan to pass through Parliament without opposing it. The Tory Party was rather ineffectual, being rent with internal dissension, only resolved by the resignation of their leader, Douglas-Home, and the subsequent election of Edward Heath. He was the first leader not to ‘emerge’, but to be elected by the limited franchise of MPS.
But Labour faced serious problems also. The restrictive budget of 1965 lead to a massive increase in unemployment, but the Government argued that it faced major economic problems and was hampered by its small parliamentary majority. It was widely predicted that a fresh election would take place in 1966 and this proved to be the case, in March. A national swing towards Labour clearly reflected the electorate’s wish to give the Government a decent majority to get on with the job. In Chesterfield, Eric Varley significantly increased his vote, majority and share of the poll. MacDermott improved the position in Derby North, despite a lower turnout, even though there was only a two way contest. Noel-Baker retained the other Derby seat on a similar vote to that of two years before. Brown was back at Belper, with an improved share of the poll and an improved vote. Neal retained Bolsover, with an all time high 82% share of the poll. Fletcher improved his vote and share of the poll at Ilkeston. Tom Swain was back in North East Derbyshire, as was Trevor Park in South East Derbyshire. The Tories kept West Derbyshire, but the shock of the election was that Labour actually won HighPeak for the first time ever. P M Jackson took the seat with a majority of 814.
Now provided with a significant majority, the Government set to its task. But the statutory interference in free collective bargaining was proving irksome to trades unionists. The Pottery Workers Society lost a claim alleging underpayment of wages at Joseph Bourne and Sons of Denby under the Prices and Incomes Act provisions. The Wages Board for the industry had decided upon an increase of 3d an hour, or 1 5/6d a week, in June 1966, to be applied two months later. The company relied upon the passing of Part 4 of the Act, imposing a wages freeze, to avoid payment of the increase. However, the judgement found in favour of the worker whose test case was to stand for all five hundred employees and no doubt many more besides in other companies, who were watching the case. The National Plan was buried in July 1966, when Wilson made a speech which was a signal for a major onslaught on living standards. A rigid national standstill on wages was announced. One in four of the working population were robbed of rises already agreed.
A fundamentally dishonest notion was peddled to sell the idea. It was argued that low paid workers would be helped, if the higher paid were to forgo wage increases, in that savings in wages would lead to lower prices and the lower paid would thus benefit. But there were no provisions to compel the lowering of prices and the dividend limitation powers only caused profits to be saved for shareholders for a later date. Disillusionment with the policy would however only arise out of the course of its operation and not in advance. Workers could be fined from £100 up to £500 for taking part in a strike contrary to the standstill, or proposing it to others, a move to make strikes illegal in peace time for the first time in over 150 years. Some were quick to declare support. Cyril Bradley, one of the TGWU’s Derby full time officers declared that “these measures indicate the country’s urgent need for increased productivity. My union and my (productivity) association will do all they can to encourage this.” But it was not that simple. Disquiet over the new policy lead the TGWU’s own General Secretary, Frank Cousins, who had become a Labour MP and a minister for science and technology, to resign in protest. Cousins returned to the union to lead it on a day to day basis. He was bitter over the dictation to the Government by the bankers of Wall Street and Zurich of economic policy. These concerns were soon expressed within the labour movement more widely. [79]
Derby Area TUC began to discuss these matters. As early as November 1965, the ASSET branch put a carefully worded motion to DATUC of “opposition to legislation designed to enforce advance notification of wages and salaries and conditions claims by Trade Unions to any body other than the one to whom the claim” is presented. But opposition to a Labour Government did not come easily. In August 1966, DATUC rejected a motion put by USDAW, which condemned the wages freeze, by a narrow margin – the vote being 23 votes to 18. W Watson, in moving the critical motion, explained that “the policy would be more acceptable if there were a genuine freeze of both wages and prices, but prices were in fact continuing to increase”. E Hammersley of the ASW opposed the motion on the basis that a Labour Government had to be supported against the “most dastardly attacks from all sides … capitalistic measures must sometimes be used”, when operating in a capitalist society. DATUC’s secretary, Chas Howell, believed that trades unionists should be helping out their government to “get out of the mess”. [80]
Derby activists were reluctant to be seen to be behaving disloyally. “Rebellion is not a Derby Socialist custom”, the Derbyshire Advertiser claimed. “The local Party has normally been a loyal follower of party policy, in or out of office. The past battles of Bevanism, of Clause Four, of Unilateralism have all passed it by”, the paper assessed in an exaggerated, if largely accurate, statement. All the more significance then in the fact that the new Selective Employment Tax, imposed by the Government, was condemned by the Derby Labour Party in July 1966. The measure, it was felt, would fail to achieve its purposes of “forcing workers into industry” and would “succeed in raising prices for everyone”. No doubt, the fact that the Co-ops were worried, as all employers in service industries were, helped to win some in the DLP to opposition. [81] By September, the DLP had been brought into line to support the Government’s economic policies. USDAW lost a motion seeking to instruct delegates to the annual conference of the party to vote “against the pay standstill and the restrictions placed on trade unions’ free negotiating rights”. [82]
But the discordant voices were still to be heard during October 1966. George Comes, East Midlands organiser for the draughtsmen’s’ union, DATA, told the Long Eaton Labour Party that “in a privately owned economy the trade unions would be in a very grave danger if they surrendered their rights or had them taken away”. [83] Clive Jenkins, General Secretary of the staff and technical union ASSET, visited Derby for a meeting on the aero-space industry and made his views well known. ASSET later merged with the Association of Scientific Workers to form ASTMS. (Much later, ASTMS would merge with the revamped and much expanded DATA, by then renamed TASS, to form MSF, part of today’s amicus.) Trevor Park, the South East Derbyshire MP called for immediate and stringent price controls in a delicately worded statement. Somewhat more firmly, the Derbyshire area of the NUM came out clearly against a wages freeze. Local business men condemned the policy as stop-go economics and fears of redundancies arising from the squeeze grew. Leys and Qualcast in Derby were worried that the recession in the car industry, due to restrictions on hire-purchase, would affect their businesses. Glow-worm, suppliers of castings to the motor trade, made 70 redundant at Milford; although changed shift practices meant that few actually lost their jobs. British Rail ceased all recruitment for most grades for the first time for many years. [84] Short time working in many foundry enterprises in November boosted Derby’s workless figures. 3,188 were unemployed compared to 1,171 in October and 844 in November of the previous year. [85]
By late 1967, a Gallup poll found the Wilson Government “the most unpopular of all post-war governments”. The DLP rather short-sightedly put this down to the “decision to allow increased electricity charges”, as if this were the only unpopular policy pursued by the Government. [86] Almost oddly, Wilson himself retained some considerable personal following. He was so well liked in the DLP that his visit to Derby in September 1967 was almost akin to that of a film or pop star, but then he was decidedly anxious to cultivate a popular television image and was fond of comparisons between himself and J F Kennedy. The general disillusionment with the Government led to the Labour Party finding great difficulty in selecting a suitable candidate from a short list of potentials for a by election in West Derbyshire in September 1967. During the campaign there were bitter complaints of a lack of practical support from members of the Government.
Divisions of all kinds were weakening Labour, both nationally and locally. Some, like the formation of a Heanor Independent Labour Party in 1964 after a spilt over the introduction of smokeless fuel in Marlpool, may seem trifling in retrospect. But the savage reduction of the coal industry, in areas such as this during the 1960s, places the affair in proper perspective. By January 1967, the official party and the breakaway were once more unified. [87] More difficult to resolve, but equally parochial, was the tension which was created between those in the Borough Labour Party and those in South East Derbyshire, when territorial extensions of the borders of Derby took place. Even more significant was the decision of the DLP to criticise a Labour group decision on aldermen as undemocratic.
Amidst all the controversy, Alderman Arthur Sturgess stepped down as Labour group leader in 1967. Assessing Sturgess’s record, one columnist for a local paper felt that he “did not lead with the superb political skill of … Raynes, nor did he have the panache that AId. Charles White used to show … but he was solid and dependable”. [88] Matt Lowe, the GMWU official and a man only ten years younger than the venerable Sturgess, took over. But the argument about the administrative changes dragged on. Proposals on the breakdown of wards in the new county borough, put jointly by the Labour group on the old DerbyTown council and by the local party itself, were rejected by the former at a public inquiry. The Labour group was thus on the side of the Tories against their own party. A local commentator thought the rift not only deep, but “symptomatic of the inherent alignment of forces in the party – the constituency rank and file and their officers, against those who lead the Council’s Labour group”. [89]
It was an insight pregnant with future developments. In the event, the recommendations of the public inquiry into the reorganisation of local government were backed by the Home Secretary and a number of veteran alderman were “not endorsed” as Labour candidates in the elections for the enlarged county borough in 1968. These included Matt Lowe, H J T Russell and John Dilworth. [90] Taken together with the unpopularity of the government, these circumstances did not auger well for Labour in the local elections of that year. ‘Ratepayers’ joined up with Derby’s Tories, arguably merely going where they had always belonged. Some ex-Labour councillors stood as independents. Labour was routed in these ‘Greater Derby’ elections, securing only seven seats to the Tories’ 47 and 34 years of continuous Labour office was thus ended. In October 1969, both Labour and Tory groups on Derby’s Town Council expressed support for the essential recommendations of the Maud Report on local government.
To make matters worse, the Government produced “In Place of Strife; a Policy for Industrial Relations”, following the report of the Royal Commission on Trade Unions, which was chaired by Lord Donovan from 1965 and which reported in 1968. There was much emphasis in the new policy on curbing unofficial strikes by legal means. Ballots would be ordered in certain circumstances. The absolute freedom of the right to strike was thus challenged by a Labour Government. While MPS, like Nial MacDermott welcomed the proposals, the trade union movement was naturally concerned. The Long Eaton and Derby trades councils opposed the Government on this issue, with the uncertainty about so doing which had been evident in 1966 no longer present. DATUC voted unanimously to give full support to the TUC’s opposition to the White Paper. The Government had stretched loyalty just one step too far.
But there had been other tensions. Labour could always expect a highly disproportionate vote in the council house estates. But the Government’s public spending policies saw council house rents rise astronomically and the emergence of council house tenants’ organisations designed to fight these rises was testament to just how far the Government had gone. When Long Eaton Urban District Council proposed a 12.5% increase in rents, a 950 strong tenants’ group urged a rent strike, following a successful example in Walsall, which had been lead by a prominent Communist. The DLP assessed that the Labour Party had “suffered an overwhelming defeat” in elections in 1967-8, along with a serious membership decline. “There is no doubt that unpopular policies have had a marked effect”, the annual report of the DLP noted. But, it went on to argue that “we must all criticise, yes, but at the same time to realise the difficulties of exercising power in this ever more complex and awkward world”. [91] The Government found increasing strains amongst even its own MPs. Three Derbyshire MPs were amongst 25 who abstained in 1968 from a vote on economy cuts in social services. Trevor Park, who had called on the Government in 1967 to change course, was one of them. He was suspended from membership of the Parliamentary Labour Party for 28 days for the action. Long Eaton Trades Council passed a unanimous vote of confidence in him.
Controversy over the Government’s foreign policies surfaced. Its readiness to restrict immigration from the Commonwealth and its uncritical support for US actions in Vietnam caused many activists great concern. The latter issue, in particular, began to strike a chord amongst the mass of young people. Philip Noel-Baker went on record in the 1966 General Election to state his belief that the war in Vietnam was truly horrible and unsupportable. It was “ghastly in its cruelty, a more squalid and sordid war than any he had known”. Trevor Park, in speaking to the Fabian Society in Derby, made much the same point, when he called upon the Government to disassociate itself from US policy in Vietnam. [92] Not that Noel-Baker found himself exempt from criticism. He had long standing personal connections with Greece and anxious doubts about his position were raised, when a military junta seized power with US support in 1967. USDAW submitted a motion to both DATUC and the DLP, registering concern at “the removal of democratic institutions in Greece”. [93] George Brown responded to these criticisms along the lines that it was best to maintain contacts, so as to be able to express the British Government’s view more effectively.
Events in South Africa created interest and concern amongst many. Derbyshire NUM urged a boycott of South African goods, when a sporting link took place in Chesterfield in 1965. The Archdeacon and many of the local clergy were amongst those to protest against apartheid. Ruth First, the South African campaigner and prominent Communist, addressed a meeting of about thirty people, which went on to set up a Derby Anti-Apartheid group in September 1965. John Dilks was the chairman -and David Bookbinder, later to become County Council leader, the secretary. The initiative was rooted in the historic links between sections of the Labour left and local Communists, which can be traced back to the strong presence of the ILP in the 1930s. Many Labour activists were friendly to the socialist world. John Dilks, when leader of the Labour group on the Town Council had been very impressed when visiting Poland. But the local Anti-Apartheid Movement was broadly based, Liberal Party members and representatives from the West Indian community were involved. When Ian Smith made his 1966 declaration of Rhodesian independence, unilaterally and without agreement, over the question of majority democratic rule, a well attended demonstration took place in Derby’s Market Place in June. Seven hundred people signed a petition of protest. Additionally, an all-party audience listened to Judith Todd at a Derby rally later in the year. The following year, in March, she addressed a meeting organised by the Derbyshire NUM. Whilst DATUC called for a boycott of the South African cricket tour in 1970.
These issues were critical in radicalising the younger generation, indeed the 1960s have almost become a cliché for the rise of rebellious youth. Students played a significant part in the general trend, but the absence of major tertiary education institutions in Derbyshire may have minimised the possibilities of this in the county. Derby’s college students were not even affiliated to the National Union of Students, when strikes and boycotts of lectures were proposed in protest at the Government’s raising of fees of overseas students. Questions of race at home usually led to intense controversy. So sensitive was the issue, that in the early 1960s George Brown got into hot water over remarks about “immigrants”, when referring to the importation of Scots into the area by the Coal Board. He explained that he was making a point about economics and did not intend to “break the unofficial political truce on the subject of immigration”. [94]
For there were real problems; a local paper commented in 1966 that the Corporation bus service “could hardly carry on without the labour of our fellow Commonwealth citizens from the West Indies, yet another large organisation (it meant Trent Motor Traction) constantly advertises for labour of a similar kind never seems to employ people from the Commonwealth”. [95] Trent’s explanation of this to Alderman Christmas, Chairman of the Community Relations Council in Derby, in 1967 was that they were in a different position to the City Buses, as they ran into county districts, “where often there was only the conductor and about one passenger on the bus this might be just as much embarrassment to the conductor (if he or she were black) as the passenger”. [96] Such spoken, but unconscious, racism was at the heart of the problem. Mick Walker, ASSET delegate to the DATUC and later to be a leader of Derby Council, was more direct. “There is only one shop in Derby with a coloured counter assistant … The attitude of most is ‘the customers would not like it’.” [97]
Enoch Powell’s outburst in Birmingham, which earned him the sack from the Tory Shadow Cabinet, had support in the area. This was “unqualified support”, according to the Belper divisional agent for the Conservatives. [98] East Midlands Gas Board workers came out on a one day sympathy strike for Powell. Right wing groups became bolder; the English National Resurgence Movement emerged briefly in West Derbyshire. The Government introduced a very restrictive Immigration Act in 1968, but it seemed as if its handling of the issue satisfied no-one. Its own activists were often worried at the racist implications. Immigrant communities were disillusioned with Labour, while white working class Labour supporters were confused and hurt, blaming the new found economic chaos on the Government and/or black people. No wonder that Michael Foot MP, speaking to the South East Derbyshire Labour Party in March 1969, said that there was a “sense of disillusion. It is alarming to see the scale of disillusion amongst the younger people.” [99] Labour lost control of the Heanor UDC in 1969, for the first time in 35 years. Whilst there were some gains in Derby, these were really recouping the extraordinary, losses arising out of the local government reorganisation of 1968.
Nial MacDermott had resigned from the Government in 1968, keeping his seat as a back bench MP. As the run up to the 1970 General Election proceeded, he announced his intention not to stand again, thus causing a selection procedure to be implemented. Noel-Baker also left his seat to be filled. Four local men, Councillor David Bookbinder, Philip Whitehead (then a television producer), Councillor John Dilks and Tommy Ham (Chair of the DLP and a prominent NUR activist) all went for the Derby South seat. Perhaps the local competition was a factor in deciding the winner of the selection contest, whatever the reason, the new candidate for Labour turned out to be Walter Johnson, who had TSSA connections. John Dilks was the runner up. In the Derby North seat, Philip Whitehead was selected. The eventual results of the 1970 election proved disastrous for Labour. The two Derby seats were taken by the new Labour candidates and Eric Varley was elected for the Chesterfield seat on a similar vote to that of four years earlier. But Brown was defeated in Belper, with the Tories taking the seat for the first time in eight general elections. This proved especially embarrassing since Brown had declared himself “not worried” about his seat before the election!
Dennis Skinner began a long tenure at Bolsover, although Labour’s share of the vote dropped from 82% to 77.5%. Ray Fletcher held Ilkeston, but with a reduced vote, as did Tom Swain in North East Derbyshire. The Tory right-winger, Peter Rost, took South East Derbyshire from Labour and his party had a much improved vote in West Derbyshire. In HighPeak, S Le Marchant swept away a Labour majority of 814, turning it into a Tory one of 1,504. The Tories were back under Edward Heath’s leadership and with a vengeance they were determined to roll back any advances that may have been made. But Labour had created a deep well of suspicion amongst its natural supporters and it would take a great deal of Tory hostility to the organised working class movement to sweep this away. Much of the rest of the story is perhaps too near to us for a history of the county to contemplate. At the beginning of the 1970s, Britain’s economy was still geared to imperial needs and a growing feeling invaded business that a major restructuring was needed. How then to achieve this and what had been the background at the level of the workplace in the preceding years?
9 Trades unionism in Derbyshire in the post war era – some specific industries
i) Trade union attitudes to work study and productivity
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s there was a commonly accepted notion that higher productivity would automatically lead to higher standards of living. Sidney Greene, NUR General Secretary, felt that he would prefer a railway industry with “half the number of workers, earning twice the wages they get now”. [100] If his first wish was granted, the second would prove to be more difficult. There was a naive assumption that greater productivity would lead to greater competitiveness, that this would mean greater profitability and that this would lead automatically to better jobs for all. The 1950s began with many an industry seeking such a perfect solution for the future. Let us take one as an example, the lace manufacturing sector. [101]
There was some resistance initially to the idea of rationalisation. A redeployment scheme at Boden’s, the plain net manufacturers in Derby, gave rise to a good deal of sharp debate between the lace unions. Nationally, the plain net manufacturers wanted redeployment of labour and the introduction of new techniques in the industry. Professional consultants had been used in other areas of the lace trade, much to the concern of Flewitt, General Secretary of the Operative Lacemakers. His union had strongly opposed using what Flewitt thought of as outsiders to advise the industry. R J Gigli & Company had been these ‘outsiders’ attacked by Flewitt and, in early 1952, these consultants wrote to Cyril Bradley of the Derby TGWU. (The following details are all taken from Bradley’s original file.) Gigli’s recommended themselves on the basis that his brother, Harold Bradley of the Amalgamated Weavers in Darwen, Lancashire, had worked with them on work study in the ‘sheds’ in that area. Harold Bradley had joined the Nelson Weavers Committee in 1928, as one of two CP members out of the committee of twelve. Subsequently, he became the Darwen Weavers secretary, secretary also of the united weavers association and president of the loose weavers body usually referred to as the “Amalgamation”. So, he was a formidable person to be recommending Gigli and his brother, Cyril Bradley, lost no time in meeting the consultants. In so doing, he assured them of an intent to operate within staged industrial relations procedures and by agreement all the way. He then approached the directors of Boden’s, who were in turn keenly interested and had no objections to meeting Gigli himself.
By March 1952, Gigli’s had made a survey of the working conditions at Boden’s and had produced a confidential report on its recommended approach. There was an understanding that “an application of our methods would bring considerable benefits”. An average increase in productivity of 69% for the whole mill was calculated as being possible. While an average increase in gross earnings of the workers of 36% could be “readily attainable”. Labour costs could be reduced by 13.5% by improving the use of labour and equipment. Gigli’s fees would be £9,828, about one fifth of one year’s wages bill for the company but, from both the union’s and the company’s point of view, it would be worth it. Following the report, a new method of working was introduced as a trial. Traditionally, lace trade earnings were based on operating two machines, but the new method changed all that. Only by a detailed work study was it considered possible to “separate the skilled work from the unskilled and then to allocate it to the appropriate personnel”. Thus, the twist hand “could be relieved of all duties which did not warrant his skill” and be allocated more machines to work on a new basis of piecework payment. Lifting and carrying operations would be allotted to labourers, while the semi-skilled bobbin and carriage preparation would become exclusively the preserve of women workers.
After the trial had gone on for six months, the company wanted to confirm the new methods as the basis for a permanent system of working. So, the TGWU’s Lace Workers’ branch (historically the old Workers Union laceworkers) met to agree the principle, albeit reserving their position on some anomalies. Boden’s system rapidly became something of a model. Gigli wrote to Bradley, asking for his approval to training an official of the GMWU on work study methods at Boden’s for the TUC. Bradley was assured that the official would take no part in “Trade Union affairs or matters of a political nature”. The system began to be discussed within the British Lace Operatives Federation, which covered the whole industry. The Federation was split into the three sectors of the trade, levers, curtain and plain net. The Derby TGWU 5/236 Laceworkers branch was affiliated to the Federation and its former branch secretary, Harry Cheshire, was the delegate. Reg Solway, who worked at Fletcher’s Nottingham Road lace works in Derby, was another local TGWU delegate. Indeed, Solway was the chairman of the trade union side of the joint conciliation board. Cheshire and Solway were both left wing stalwarts, the former having been very involved in the ILP in the 1930s and the latter had been a member of the TGWU’s Midlands Regional Committee. They had been lay secretary and chair of the Derby District Committee for many years.
Cheshire reported on the Boden’s affair at a Federation meeting in July 1953. Subsequently, Flewitt, who was not only the leader of the rival union but also the secretary of the Federation, wrote to Bradley. Flewitt argued that it was useless to split hairs; time and motion, redeployment, call it what you will, whatever was happening at Boden’s was “a departure from the existing Wages Agreement” and the Federation had an interest in the matter because of this. Even at this stage, there was still some doubt about the permanence of the scheme at Boden’s. Further trial after further trial had been agreed. But, at a meeting in August 1953 of the full TGWU branch which involved members from Boden’s and Fletcher’s and possibly elsewhere, the affair turned complex. Reg Solway was also chair of the branch and, in that capacity, he ignored a request from Bradley that only Boden’s employees attend the meeting. Cheshire spoke against Bradley’s recommendation of the scheme and being “a member of long standing”, he won a resolution suspending the union’s support for the scheme and referring it to the Plain Net Conciliation Board, in line with the July decision of the Federation. But Boden’s point blank refused such a proposal, in retaliation threatening a “revision to a strict card working of two machines without overtime”, which would hit earnings. A further meeting of TGWU members was called, “which on this occasion was held at the works”, thus isolating Solway from the discussion. This meeting resulted in a decision to continue the scheme for one month, while complaints over its operation were resolved. Subsequently, a ballot endorsed the new circumstances of the scheme by a vote of two to one.
Flewitt raised the whole affair with the TGWU’s General Secretary, Arthur Deakin, in October 1953. He complained that “time and motion” experts had been allowed “to take an actual trial of their methods” with the consent and involvement of the local official. This, despite the fact that it “would be in breach of a joint agreement and would create the danger of district and “individual shop agreements”. Flewitt’s complaint was to no avail, since the scheme was now well and truly implemented. In a subsequent internal TGWU assessment of the affair, Bradley reported that the “policy of co-operating with Employers to increase production in the industry is the only way in which we can obtain real results for our people”. The union’s leadership backed Bradley, arguing that the industry could not “remain in a state of stagnation, but should adopt any means possible to increase production providing there are proper safeguards governing the wages of our members”. Moreover, there was a clear rebuff to Cheshire and Solway, in that it was considered that the union should come to “some decision as to who is the most suitable person to represent our organisation on the Plain Net Conciliation Board”.
The Amalgamated Lacemakers semi-official historian has written that experiences of this kind led to the belief that “the Society almost to a man was opposed to the very principles of work study. This was untrue, but the Society believed that the introduction of new methods should be based on prior consultations and that any new wages rates … should be the subject of negotiation”. [102] Whilst Boden’s had proceeded all the way with the TGWU, the Federation had faced a crisis by virtue of the back door means which the scheme had been introduced, by-passing national negotiations. Increasingly, the TGWU, within a few years, would begin to prize localised bargaining on productivity as a means of extending lay member involvement. But the Boden’s scheme had not been developed as part of a strategic plan by the union. Moreover, within a short space of time it had set the pace for the entire industry, without ever having been agreed bilaterally by the unions involved. The Lacemakers were soon to agree to the general introduction of work study, albeit in tightly controlled circumstances.
There is no doubt that the tensions between the Lacemakers and the TGWU, as rivals in the same sphere, had something to do with the controversy. This meant that agreement on industrial policy matters was often the subject of difference. In 1952, the Long Eaton TGWU Laceworkers branch reported a dispute over holidays with pay in the levers section of the trade to an Industrial Disputes Tribunal. Following the reference, an award of £6 for males and £4 for females was won, a result which seemed to confirm the TGWU’s sharper profile as a bargaining force. [103] It was still possible for a joint recruiting drive to be conducted by both unions in Long Eaton the following year. By April 1957, the possibilities of a merger were being seriously considered after a TGWU initiative. Regional officials of the union proposed the formation of a Laceworkers group within the TGWU to accommodate the Amalgamated Laceworkers, but the rather craft conscious Nottingham based body remained unconvinced and looked around for other partners. The rather chequered past inter-relationship between the two unions had left a legacy of suspicion on the part of the smaller organisation. [104]
In the end, it did not prove all that difficult for the Amalgamated Laceworkers to come to some agreement on work study. After all, it had allowed a pilot scheme in Nottingham in 1950. The criticism of the final consultant’s report on this had been that it “neglected the human implications” and was also couched in jargon which was “inadequately explained”. There had been worries over the elimination of skill in the job, concerns over the protection of earnings and the health of older workers, given the consequential speed up of the work. The Plain Net Board had jointly agreed a new price list for piece work which improved productivity, although it used traditional methods of work. Therefore, an accusation against the Amalgamated Laceworkers that it always refused to accept ‘progress’ would not be accurate. Its EC finally approved the Boden’s agreement in November 1953, provided that the TGWU did not use it as a precedent. The following year, it was jointly agreed that Plain Net firms could experiment with work study, provided that the relevant union had a veto on any permanent changes.
In March 1954, a final agreement was signed at Boden’s, after several drafts. It was complex and all inclusive, there being no less than 34 clauses. An hourly rate would be guaranteed, while an incentive payment allowed a worker of average ability to increase earnings by 45% over the basic wage. However, job values would be determined by work study methods alone, implying an absence of bargaining. Values would be given to individual operatives, so that they would know how much work had to be done to provide a particular level of earnings. But the original work study figures would not be available, so the worker would not be able to gauge how the values had been arrived at. No reference was made to the inherent weakness of work-study that observed work performances are estimated by non-scientific means. The rate at which a worker is performing – fast, slow or intermediate – is guessed at and then quantified in a precise figure, a rating. The observed time which a given task has taken is then varied upwards or downwards on this rating, which presumes to tell whether a worker is performing at a normal pace, or has been attempting to artificially boost the price of the job. In time, workers would learn to bargain over observed times, ratings and work systems. The object of the exercise had been to achieve productivity and at the same time to tie up earnings and production requirements by scientific means. But these systems of wage payment would bring an unprecedented amount of bargaining power onto the shop floor, since workers would inevitably always be more familiar with the intricacies of the work performed. The very complexity of such systems would ensure the greater involvement of rank and file representatives and shop floor democracy would actually be stimulated. As for Boden’s, it had become Black Brothers and Boden’s Ltd in 1956 and by the following year it was concentrating on experimental work, having ceased almost all production towards the end of 1956. In two years, the TGWU lost over 200 members in the company as a result.
Productivity now began to be presented almost as a magical panacea for Britain’s economic problems. A concept of tripartite unity for productivity was fostered by the Government, bringing unions, employers and the State together. Proposals to form a local productivity committee along these lines were the subject of a heated discussion at the Derby Trades Council (DTC) in 1953. An AEU delegate, A Dipple, called for a boycott of a conference on the subject, due to be held at the Chamber of Commerce. Despite TUC approval of such activities, he felt that “it may be used to promote American methods of speed-up, which are not in the interests of the workers”. [105] A large majority at the meeting decided that it would not be appropriate to attend the conference. But the wider movement was increasingly pushed towards acceptance of the trend by their own members’ eagerness to obtain the pay benefits of work study. Cyril Bradley, the TGWU official, was a supporter of the productivity movement, but even he complained at the DTC about the way in which the appointment of the chairman of the local committee had been made, which effectively left the unions out of the decision. Although his subsequent heavy involvement in the Derby Productivity Association (DPA) perhaps reveals a significant personal interest in the matter. Apart from such minor controversies, a general understanding developed that these new techniques were coming and that it was the job of the unions to extract what they could out of it for their members.
The DTC’s secretary, Chas Howell, warned at the 1956 May Day celebrations that “automation will soon reach Derby”. [1061 Howell made the comment in the context of a spate of strikes, which were taking place in Coventry, against the effects of this new fad for rationalisation. That year, plans for a Duke of Edinburgh’s Conference on productivity reached the attention of the DTC. Some unions, such as the NUR, had actually decided to have nothing to do with the conference and this may explain a lengthy controversy in April, which was ostensibly more to do with the selection of delegates to local sessions of the conference. The union was then nationally briefly led by a politically militant leadership and may thus have encouraged the local NUR’s spearheading of the Derby left’s unease with the whole productivity movement. An acrimonious debate, in the course of which five procedural motions were put and lost, saw the EC’s recommendations on the conference only narrowly carried by a vote of 26 to 22, with no less than 20 delegates not voting. The DTC’s delegation was largely based on the membership of the EC. The debate rolled over to the next meeting, when a motion submitted by the NUR’s Derby No. 3 and No. 7 branches condemned the method of selecting the DTC’s delegates. The critical proposal was only defeated by a vote of 26 to 24. R W Brothill and Jim Potts were prominent in the debate and it is clear that the argument was as much about the aims of the conference as the method of selecting the DTC’s delegates. The motive of the EC was surely to send only ‘reliable’, that is to say supportive, delegates to the conference.
The national standing committee of the Duke’s conference decided to send a representative study group to Derby in July to tour local firms. British Celanese, Rolls Royce, International Combustion, and Rykneld Mills were visited, along with local schools and the college. A series of set piece discussions were arranged, including one addressed by Cyril Bradley and others on the “Problems of Full Employment”. The council of the Derby Productivity Association was very active in propagating the virtues of productivity. As was the TGWU, which set up a one day course for shop stewards on work study at the Derby railway workshops in November 1958. This was “not to sell the idea of Work Study”, claimed the programme and syllabus, “but merely to explain it as a fallible method now being used in sections of British Industry”. The qualification that work study was fallible is significant, as shop stewards were now learning to work their way through and around the system. The DPA continued in its role of providing largely supportive information about work study, which became prevalent, even in the smallest firm.
As the issue of membership of the European Common Market seriously arose in the early 1960s, boosting productivity was increasingly seen to be vital to improving British competitiveness in the international market. Although, in the event, it would not be for another decade that the issue of entry would be settled. Arising from this early debate, British Productivity Council lecturers addressed a conference on work study in Derby. This was chaired by Cyril Bradley, in his capacity now as chairman of the DPA, the position he had raised at the DTC. It was essential, he argued, that industry “master new techniques”, given the possibility of entry into the Common Market. [107] The DPA maintained a programme of such educational activity throughout the 1960s. A full day’s conference of some 80 shop stewards was held in May 1964 and there were seminars in 1967 on ergonomics and automated numerical control of machine tools. Such activities became central to the work of the DPA under Bradley’s chairmanship and he was to receive the OBE for these services at BuckinghamPalace in early 1966. In an associated move, ‘Quality and Reliability Year’ was declared at the end of that year, to last the full period of 1967. The Wilson Government saw industrial innovation as a pre-requisite to developing prosperity. But local managements were condemned by trades unions for their “don’t care two hoots attitude” over the Q&R Year. British Rail workshops even refused trades unionists time off work to attend seminars in connection with Q & R. Rolls Royce did actively support the Year, but while unions were rather taken with the notion, most companies let it pass them by. One of the most successful of the local companies featured in ‘Target’, the September 1967 bulletin of the British Productivity Council was the small firm of Radiation Parkray Ltd of Belper. The firm, which made glass-fronted solid fuel room heaters, achieved a 40% cut in scrap in-the first two months of 1967. One suggestion made a foundry foreman a bonus of £100. Displays of defective work were set up on each flight of the main building, pricing the cost of a smashed casting or wrongly drilled hole.
In retrospect, it is clear that automation, speed-up and rationalisation had not solved as many problems as advocates for such processes claimed they would. Productivity deals became a commonplace bargaining item during the 1960s. By 1970, there were at least eight million workers signed up in nearly five thousand such deals. However, the shake out in industry which followed contributed markedly to undermining the post-war consensus behind the notion of full employment. Productivity gains were made, but as the Times newspaper put in on April 20th 1971, such gains can “only be cashed in for additional output if and when economic expansion absorbs the labour being released at present”. The era of mass unemployment was once more upon working people and their families. It came slowly at first; but, ultimately and disastrously, the consensus around full employment was dissolved.
ii) The TGWU in the post-war era                       
On July 16th 1945, a shop steward at British Celanese put pen to paper to communicate the concerns of her members to her union official. E M Steadman formally put her worries “after a period of 16 months concerning the “Bonus Schemes” of the Doubling Section of Miscellaneous Winding”. Ms Steadman had been to the union in 1944, seeking a bonus. Nothing had happened. But on July 11th 1945, a notice had been posted by the company advising that operatives working “the two types of doubling machines” would now be included in the established bonus scheme. The effect was to continue maximum production for little bonus; “the girls claim this is excessive”, wrote Ms Steadman. The “said scheme is 145 lbs as against 45 lbs for the one type” and production levels would only give around 18/- a week. The women had seen the superintendent about their concerns. “The girls inquired if the union” had agreed to the scheme and were told “yes”. Yet the scheme had been introduced without consulting the workers involved in any way and without even the benefit of a trial to see if the heavier workload was feasible. TGWU records do not allow for a balancing assessment, since, ominously, no official response appears to have been made. But this incident, tiny in the schema of things, vitally important perhaps to the ‘girls’ involved, conveys a flavour of the times.
The TGWU’s early readiness to accept the notion of productivity is well indicated by the introduction of a plant-wide Efficiency Scheme for British Celanese in the middle period of 1950. This provided a six monthly bonus payment, which was increased by efforts in the economical use of materials and internal services. The company soon began to look for savings in other areas. The effects of a recession in the textile industry in 1952 showed itself in the drop in the company’s net profits to £2.5 million, from just short of £7.3 million in the previous year. Even so, a generous dividend was declared, making a total of 11% for the year, compared with 3% for the previous year. Dividend limitations under the Government freeze which then applied had arbitrarily diminished returns for investors. But a supplementary payment of 7%, making a total of 16% for 1950-1 was possible. Wages, which had been equally held down by Government policy, could not – or would not – be retrospectively increased to compensate the workers. An early example of the unfairness of the operation of a statutory incomes policy in a predominantly capitalist economy was thus available to local trades unionists. [108]
The TGWU’s confidence in its continued progress at the company was marked by the establishment in 1952 of the 5/234 branch for British Celanese workers in Derby. Bradley became the branch secretary, in addition to being the full time servicing officer. He had previously been employed there, after walking the entire distance from Lancashire during the 1930s depression, seeking work. Before the creation of the branch, Derby Celanese workers had been in Hind’s old WU branch, which also included members from the Loco and Carriage and Wagon works. Hind retired at the end of 1950 at 65 years of age, having been a full time official since 1931. But he did not leave the scene immediately, only relinquishing his position as a TGWU delegate to the local Labour Party in early 1955. It was not long after Hind’s formal retirement that Bradley reported that due to “certain changes that were taking place relating to the Railway Shopmen’s branch, it would be necessary to set up a new branch”. [109]
The establishment of a new branch caused an old controversy to re-emerge. Hind shared responsibility for Celanese with another TGWU organiser, Mo Parker, who was based at Stanley Street in Long Eaton until his retirement in 1966 (he was to die shortly afterwards in 1970). Parker and Hind had arrived at an understanding that the convenor of shop stewards, E G Hemsley of the 5/225 Long Eaton branch, could be paid 15/- a week to cover loss of wages caused by dealing with union matters. [110] Whilst the Long Eaton branch was satisfied with this arrangement, Derby was not happy. F Taylor, the first chairman of the new branch, was unable to resolve the problem and the difference lay dormant for two years. The Long Eaton branch then formally wrote to the Derby branch, asking for a contribution each week to Hemsley’s costs, but this was to no avail. (Taylor was appointed a foreman in late 1953, thus paving the way forward through the TGWU’s structure of Charlie Carruthers, who was to remain a key figure in the Spondon, Derby plant for two decades.)
1952 saw a major reduction in union membership, due to the cutbacks associated with the textile recession. The 5/234 Derby branch lost over three hundred members in one go. But the firm began to take on new labour almost immediately and efforts were then made to enrol the new starters, especially in the spinning plant. In some areas, such as the Strong Yarn Department, membership of the union was very poor. Wages of Celanese workers were determined by the Rayon Joint Labour Committee, a national body. But some local bargaining was possible. The 5/234 expressed itself very appreciative of the efforts of the shop stewards, “it was one of the best reports they had ever heard” on wages negotiations, concluded the branch. Rather than Hemsley, the convenor, being responsible for calling shop stewards’ meetings, the district officials, Parker or Bradley, were the main initiators. [111]
By the end of 1953, the union was “gradually restoring the membership we had lost in the trade recession”. [112] Membership remained stable at about 1,500 in the 5/234 Derby branch. Although this was considered as being far from satisfactory, there still being large numbers of non-unionists employed at the firm. [113] Celanese employed about 11,000 at Spondon in 1956 and the TGWU’s organisation covering this was arguably defective. The union’s structure was inherently disunited. Internal transfers between the branches catering for Celanese raised constant problems, as did the task of keeping members within the organisation. In April 1954, the 5/234 took on some two hundred members from another branch, whilst 143 had also been lapsed due to non-payment of membership dues. [114] The branch decided to exclude all members not working for Celanese in 1955, making it purely a factory branch. But there were still four other branches covering the firm and, in 1957, two of these (5/235 and 5/236) were transferred into the larger 5/234 branch to aid for more effective organisation at the plant. [115]
          Branch                         May 1957 membership
          5/225 Long Eaton      unknown
          5/234 Derby                 1,500 (approx)
          5/235 Derby                 406
          5/236 Derby                 154
          5/232 Weavers            unknown
The union was beginning to win some valuable improvements for its members. In January 1955, a holiday agreement providing two week’s unpaid leave in each year was achieved. Credits of 4% of weekly earnings would be deducted from pay to fund the holiday. A minimum time rate was also agreed, of 3/- an hour for adult males, with 2/11/2d an hour for females. In June, shift rates were also substantially improved under the Rayon Industry JIC, thus sparking off an agreement for a 31/od per hour increase for three shift continuous process workers. Despite the modest, but real, character of these improvements, many workers at Celanese seemed indifferent to the efforts of the union. Some measure of the frustration this caused was evident in 1955, when Hemsley, the convenor, reported that even though “a great deal has been done” for canteen workers, most of the membership had been lost. Additionally, at “29 plant”, bonus rates had been discussed with management, but the “men had refused to join the union”. On Down Twisting, one shift was 100% organised, while another had only twelve members. Elsewhere, shop stewards were “poaching one another’s members”. Hemsley came up with a suggestion to overcome apathy, to borrow the loudspeaker equipment from the social club and to “address the workers in the different canteens in order to inform the members of the work the union was doing”. [116]
Even by June of the next year there had been no such developments and membership loss continued. Bradley reported in December 1955 that there had been a substantial loss on the full year; “it makes one wonder the attitude of the workers in the factory as considerable improvements had been brought about in wages and conditions during the past years”. [117] But things would get worse. In the following year, there was considered to be a “progressive decline in membership”. The firm was now experiencing trading difficulties and large numbers of workers were being made redundant. Even more dramatic in its effect was the rationalisation programme arising out of Courtauld’s takeover of Celanese in 1957. But even with good trading and bargaining conditions, the union had encountered difficulties in maintaining membership. Why was this?
The company relied upon a very large number of East European workers and their simplistic identification of trades unionism with Communism and their marked reluctance to take industrial action of any kind may have been a contributory factor. But, mainly, it seems that the prevailing climate in Derby was one of complacency arising from easy gains. No tradition of struggle had been generated at the firm to any marked degree. The only instance of concerted strike action in the post-war period had been amongst engineering workers, organised by the AEU, in December 1947. A mass meeting had considered a claim for a 44 hour week for the same earnings as a 47 hour week, in line with a new agreement in the wider engineering industry. The issue had been dragging on since June, so 21 days notice of a strike was given. This was due to expire on Christmas Eve, but the whole matter was referred to the Ministry of Labour Conciliation Officer. Apart from such a relatively minor instance, which was entirely sectional, little else can be discerned to suggest any faith in militancy. It was as if wages and conditions improvements were identified with the relative economic prosperity of the town and the country, rather than with any efforts of the union. A prevailing mood of increasing apathy seemed unchallengeable and the company reinforced this with a labour policy based entirely on short term expediency.
Having mentioned the existence of the AEU in Celanese, it is worth pointing out that the TGWU had to tolerate another specialist union within the company, one for supervisors. The Derby Power Loom Overlookers’ Association had been founded in 1937, specifically for British Celanese supervisors. Initially having 70 members, within twenty years, due to the introduction of new technology and incentive systems, this had reduced to 54 and only 19 members twenty years after that. The following year, in 1978, it merged with the United Association of Loom Overlookers.
In June and in September 1956, concern was again expressed at more reductions in TGWU membership at Celanese. Only in January 1957 was the 5/234 branch able to record an actual net increase in membership for the previous quarter and that had seen 103 lapsed members for non-payment of dues. The next quarter saw yet another actual drop in membership as did the next. Over two thousand were made redundant in 1958 and there were constant appeals to find ways of halting the drift. In March 1958, the losses were regarded as “substantial”, 208 were lost in the last quarter of the year alone. Yet there were still “pockets of non-unionists in certain sections”. [118] In all of 1958, the 5/234 branch lost some seven hundred members alone. Only in March 1959 was the union able to note that membership had remained stable for the first time for two years. [119] In the savage cutbacks after Courtauld’s takeover, around 2,500 members of the TGWU had lost their jobs out of over 7,000 members in all. Redundancy payments did not exist at that time, although most of those who lost their jobs were near retirement age. But many positive changes came with the new ownership, a reduced working week of 42 hours, down from 44, came in during 1960. Health and safety issues were given a higher profile. Dermatitis was prevalent in the Spinning Department in the 1950s, but gradually this was somewhat eased. The plant was “dirty and smelly, and often dangerous”, its strong acetic small being something of a local landmark. [120]
Despite all this, the position of shop steward became more powerful. Initially, shop stewards’ appointments had to wait on confirmation from management that they would accept the nomination. Increasingly, this became more of a formality and shop stewards were rarely challenged on the unjustified whim of management. By the 1960s, most of the backwards looking industrial relations legacies were fading. Over a few months in 1962, Hemsley was able to obtain much improvement in TGWU membership. 140 members were enrolled in one fell swoop. Whilst at Steel Cords, part of the Spondon complex, a potential of up to 90 members was garnered by addressing meetings with the permission of management. Even the notoriously difficult to organise GA Department provided two shop stewards, both “good men” to cover two of the three shifts. [121] In contrast with these positive developments, employment at British Celanese would diminish with technological changes. The manufacture of man-made fibres became more capital intensive, requiring little labour. In 1967, Courtaulds employed something like £10,000 capital per employee. In such a situation, substantial economies of scale became possible given the technology of the industry and the future would become increasingly uncertain.
Turning to the TGWU’s other major area of organisation in these years, the bus industry, immediately after the war, faced serious and immediate problems of greater passenger demand than there was supply of service. Trent Motor Traction had 350 buses in 1946, but it was nowhere near enough and there was also a terrible shortage of labour. The nature of the work demanded of a bus worker and the conditions with which they were expected to cope had a startling effect on the mood of employees in the industry. In mid November 1946, the Town Council Omnibus Committee in Derby were warned that local bus workers were “seething with discontent at low pay, the treatment of sick workers and overwork”. [122] Within three weeks, a strike of the council’s employees was announced. But, only a few hours before it was due, the action was averted by a proposal that the full Omnibus Committee meet with union representatives. Councillor R C Werrett claimed that the demands of the workers were for a shorter working week, an extra week’s holiday and for adjustments of the spreadover duties which split a shift between the early and late parts of a single day.
Alderman F W (Fred) Haslam, the TGWU District Secretary and himself a former busman, said that no “silly, fantastic things” were being sought. [123] The union had asked for the Omnibus Committee to meet a deputation in June, but this request had been refused. When the committee did eventually listen to suggestions from the workers’ representatives, they heard that a new duty schedule could solve the problem. [124] This should do away with many of the split shifts that were causing the dissatisfaction. Workers felt that they were, in effect, on duty for the whole day when they began work at dawn and finished at night, with a large chunk of the day unpaid in which they vainly sought recovery. The working life of bus workers was geared around getting the public to and from school, work, the pub, club, cinema or bingo hail. The core problem remained unresolved and, within a month, there were fresh difficulties to address.
The introduction of a five day week in the engineering industry and the resulting changes to patterns of working hours gave rise to all sorts of transport troubles in Derby. [125] Large numbers of workers were finishing at around the same time. Taken together with the fact that the inordinate amount of overtime which had been worked during the war was now at an end, there was chaos on the buses at peak travelling times. Some 18,800 passengers travelled on Corporation bus services in Derby between the hours of 5pm and 6pm. [126] Other than buying a large number of new vehicles and the setting on of a large number of new workers, both of which in any case might not be available, the only solution was the staggering of starting and stopping times. But could it be done economically?
By 1947, problems of overwork and underpayment caused the patience of some bus workers to snap. National negotiations covering private sector bus undertakings were getting nowhere, when a lightening strike of a hundred Midland General Omnibus (MGO) workers at the firm’s Alfreton depot took place as a protest at general conditions. The dispute took immediate effect, particularly hitting colliery production and industry generally. Very many workers found it impossible to get to work, for cars were still not a generally held possession amongst the working class. The bus workers were conveyed to a meeting at the Langley Mill headquarters by company transport. But the dispute was not called off as a result of this meeting. On the contrary, it was escalated. All 750 MGO employees came out in solidarity with the Alfreton depot and in support of their criticisms of the general position facing bus workers. Trent Motor Traction, which followed the same national agreement as MGO, was also affected. Some 120 of their employees came out on strike. This was all much to the displeasure of Alderman Haslam, their full time official, who publicly “washed his hands of the whole affair”. [127] (MGO was later absorbed by Trent.)
For the best part of a week, Alfreton bus park was “like a deserted village”, the only break in the silence being the occasional appearance of a “Naylor” or “Ebor” bus, these being small non-unionised bus companies, on the Mansfield route. All Trent Motor Traction services out of Ashbourne were stopped on Saturday 21st June, after pickets on the Derby bus station requested support. The workers at Ashbourne had initially voted to provide 14 days notice of intent to strike and were still serving that when the Derby depot changed their minds. A similar upsurge of opinion was surfacing throughout the country. Bus workers taking unofficial action, over separate but related issues in many companies, decided to return to work after their protest had been well and truly made. Most decided that the point had been made and voted to return immediately they heard of a national meeting to be held to discuss the unrest. Derby Trent workers decided to stay their action, pending the outcome of the talks, but only by a vote of 112 to 72, with the minority wanting to continue the unofficial strike. Eventually, an arbitration award of a 44 hour week gave better conditions to bus workers. Municipal bus undertakings were able to grant concessions well before the private sector but, even there, the long delays in obtaining improvements led to impatience amongst the workforce. Arbitration Tribunals had to be invoked in 1950 and in 1951, in order that reasonable pay rises could be obtained.
Alderman Haslam was about to distinguish himself in quite another way. Arguably, his disdain for the unofficial action of his membership was not necessarily isolated from this. Over the course of 1947-8, Haslam was to be involved in a series of scandals which concerned his dishonesty and corruption. Indeed, this period was not a good one generally for the labour and trade union movement in this respect. A special tribunal was set up under Mr Justice Lynskey in 1948, after allegations of corruption of ministers and senior civil servants. This found proven evidence of corruption in high places in the Labour Government and the wider labour movement. It revealed deeply disturbing attitudes to power and wealth amongst leading figures. Stories of highly placed MPS and trade union leaders attending luxurious and extravagant parties and dinners with millionaires raised eyebrows in those days of austerity and rationing. Many working class people were deeply disillusioned about what they had thought would be a workers’ government. It was therefore hardly surprising that attention would also be focused on local labour movement leaders. Haslam found himself on occasion uncomfortably well in the glare of the spotlight. In late 1947, he was accused of putting himself at the head of the six thousand strong waiting list for council housing, to obtain a rented bungalow in Mackworth, Derby; £178 was then spent on “repairs”. (128] Naturally, his position on the Housing Committee lead to some suspicions.
The Labour Party arranged for the affair to be kept subject to an electoral truce, during the run up to the Town Council elections of 1947, but the story came out in public despite these efforts. Labour made some gains in many parts of the country that year but, in Derby, the Tories made net gains and Labour’s vote was not good. Almost immediately, Haslam faced even more serious matters. In 1939, there had already been an enquiry authorised by the TGWU’s General Executive Council into the finances of the 5/100 branch, which catered for bus workers. This was conducted by W H Wells, the Midlands Area Financial Administrator, who was based at Derby, which then functioned as a sub-regional office. This probably had some connection with the later allegations. The impression of an air of financial impropriety was clearly very strong. Certainly, in 1948 Haslam had to answer a summons to a two day court hearing in December 2nd 1948 of 103 charges concerning the misuse of union monies. An investigation into TGWU finances had revealed major discrepancies and Haslam was accused of obtaining £200 by means of false pretences. He had forged TGWU contribution cards and embezzled varying sums, ranging from 2s 1d to £60 6s 6d, totalling £561 2s 1 d over the ten years from 1937, at the very least.
Having been appointed an official in April 1928, Haslam was first suspended by the union in November 1947 and after 20 years service was dismissed from employment by early 1948. To supplement his salary, which in 1947 was £9 6s 6d a week, Haslam had systematically siphoned off funds, without forwarding them to the regional administration. As the branch secretary of the 5/100, he received all contributions up to 1938, when he had then received instructions that the finance office should take all contributions. But members continued to pay direct to Haslam. A member who had been a conductor at Trent Motor Traction had received £300 in “workmen’s compensation” arising out of a common law case taken against his employer after an accident. The member deposited £200 in what he thought was the TGWU’s “Bank”. Of course this did not in reality exist, except perhaps in Haslam’s pockets’ Each March, the member had been paid “interest”. It is quite likely that the publicity about Haslam’s corruption as a town councillor had alerted the member to his dishonesty. Twelve witnesses related a catalogue of malpractice, involving Rolls Royce, Derby Corporation, British Oxygen, Derby Co-op and Keelings Transport. Haslam was committed for trial in February 1949 and now indicated that he would plead not guilty. In the interim, he obtained work as a process operative at British Celanese. [129] No one can now know for certain, but it may be that his former colleague officers put in a good word for him. Subsequently, he was sentenced to fifteen month’s imprisonment. Naturally, the case aroused a great deal of public interest in Derby and did not reflect at all well upon the trade union movement. A measure of the extent of Haslam’s embezzlement and how severe had been his breach of trust is that the union had reported him to the police at all. It was more normal to keep such indiscretions in-house, for fear of the loss of confidence members and potential members would feel about the union.
Subsequent personnel changes, arising from Haslam’s dismissal, saw F H Bridge introduced as Derby and District Passenger and Commercial Transport Officer, with the exclusively specialist role as a bus officer ended. Bridge held this position until October 1953, when he resigned to work for the Industrial Orthopaedic Society, the salary being more attractive than the £12 16s 6d then payable. Cecil C Draper was appointed to the position from January 1954 to November 1957, when the Birmingham based officer for road haulage, Jim Taylor, transferred to Derby to take over from Draper. The latter moved to Nottingham, initially to cover the General -Workers Trade Group. But, in 1971, Taylor retired early at the age of 48 due to serious illness and, in recognition that the TGWU bus membership strongly desired a specialist officer, Draper took responsibility on an East Midlands basis for the bus industry and died in harness at the aged of 62 in 1973. At the time, he was one of only five officers in the whole of the union, two of which were in Region 5 (Midlands) on Grade 3, a very senior position midway between a national officer and a district secretary. His death caused a vacancy in the East Midlands which a young Executive Council member from Birmingham was to win. His name was Bill Morris and he was to become the General Secretary of the TGWU in 1992.
The last half of the 1950s were marked by yearly national battles in the bus industry on wages, as the pay of bus crews deteriorated compared to other forms of employment. Outside of London, the industry was organised under two national joint councils, one for the municipally owned companies and tramway sector and another for the private companies. The latter, the National Council for the Omnibus Industry (NCOI) saw a last minute settlement in 1955 avert a strike, when rises of between 5/-and 10/- were agreed. But, in 1957, an offer of 3/-, compared to a claim for £1 a week rise, triggered a national stoppage. A month’s notice of intention to strike was given and the stoppage was eagerly anticipated. Bus workers were being employed on low pay and made up the difference by long hours of overtime. Draper complained that many Trent employees were forced to work excessively long hours, by virtue of the basic rate of £8 3s 0d for a 44 hour week. [130]
Pickets tried to stop the services of small non-union companies from entering Derby bus station. Felix simply withdrew the services, avoiding controversy. Blue Bus managed to get agreement to maintain a service. Stevenson’s of Uttoxeter withdrew from involvement in Derby, claiming that acts of violence had been perpetrated on their vehicle. This prompted a public condemnation of violence from Joe Hull, TGWU district officer in Derby. (He served the union there from 1937 to December 1965.) In the Belper area, textile mills were picketed when employers tried to avoid the effects of the strike by using lorries to convey their employees to work. Matlock’s Silver Service buses joined the stoppage after picketing and with the North Western Road Car company also out on strike, the northern part of the county was utterly isolated. Eventually, a special NCOI national delegate conference of the union was called to consider an award from an Industrial Disputes Tribunal of 11/-, a massive jump from that which had been originally offered. [131]
More national attention was focused on the lengthy and militant London bus strike of 1958 and this was important in radicalising bus workers throughout the country. Derby’s Trades Council showed its support, when it donated five guineas to the TGWU London Bus dispute fund. But Derby’s municipal bus service experienced rising tensions which are partially revealed by the fact that the TGWU faced recruitment competition from the General and Municipal Workers Union (GMWU). The latter union engaged in a campaign at Derby’s Market Place on December 13th 1962 and this suggests that there was obvious discontent amongst the workforce, not only with the employer but also with their own union. The GMWU established a minority presence of around 60 members to the TGWU’s some 300, but by the early 1970s the GMWU’s presence had diminished to very little. There was an explosion of militancy in November 1963, over new operating schedules, which were hurriedly withdrawn as a result of an unofficial, lightening stoppage. The following June, the deteriorating relationship in the corporation’s transport department reached a crisis point. Drivers and conductors engaged in another lightening strike, after a conductor, Robert Mordecat, was sacked for refusing to work with the driver who was a non­-unionist. Crews assembled in the bus park around Tenant Street, as they heard of this. Such was the mood of the workers that, when a member of the public asked when the buses might run again, he was told “not today and not until 1965”. Shortly before noon, every bus passing through the Market Place had a chain across the open entrance to the platform and the vehicles’ destination indicators were turned to the word ‘Depot”. Crew after crew now ceased work in support of Mordecat. By early afternoon all of the town’s buses were withdrawn and Derby was in chaos. After a lengthy meeting with Alderman J H Christmas, chairman of the transport committee, union officials held a mass meeting in the municipal car park outside the Council House at 7pm the same day. The bus workers heard Jim Taylor, the TGWU full time official, tell them to resume work; ‘few if any of them are willing to go back to work immediately”, revealed the Advertiser. Even so, the immediate problem was soon resolved by negotiations. But a volatile situation still existed in the municipal sector, as the 1964 Labour Government’s arrival was greeted with anticipation that local government would be given more of a boost and that this would impact upon negotiations in the National Joint Industrial Council. [132]
National negotiations in the private company bus sphere (NCOI) once again reached a climax in 1965. A national delegate conference, at which Trent and MGO were represented, decided to delay strike action until the Ministry of Labour had been able to intervene. Nonetheless, an official one day strike of all Trent bus crews was unanimously decided upon by local representatives. Jim Taylor explained that “the prospect of strike had seemed inevitable for several weeks, owing to the feeling of frustration by many union members about the slowness of negotiations on the national pay claim”. An increase of only 8s 6d had been offered by the employers, whilst municipal bus operators had agreed an award of 15/-. [133] Following the recommendations in June 1966 of the Prices and Incomes Board, for a rise of up to 3.5% for NCOI bus workers, Trent and Barton’s announced an intention to move towards “One Man Operation” (OMO, later to be renamed OPO, One Person Operation) as a means of economising and avoiding fare increases. This was productivity writ large, since buses would no longer be staffed by a two person crew of driver – and conductor or – conductress, but solely by a driver/operator. The huge savings would only be partially shared with the workforce. Barton’s already had 30% of their routes on OMO. 1965 and 1966 had seen a flurry of fare rises designed to cope with failing traffic on buses and rising costs, especially of fuel and labour. Fares were then legally controlled and some applications to the Traffic Commissioners had only been accepted in part, or were even rejected. Derby Borough Council had two fare rises granted in a matter of months. Initially, Derby’s municipal bus workers were determined not to co-operate with OMO introduction and the response was fairly typical. But after the TGWU nationally withdrew its opposition to OMO in 1967, as part of a ‘settlement to the annual wages and conditions review within the company bus sector, the elimination of conductors and conductresses began to gather pace in the whole industry.
There were tensions again that year in the municipal bus sector, when Derby Borough Transport refused to break ranks with the Federation of Municipal Passenger Transport Employers over the issue of OMO. The TGWU and the GMWU imposed an overtime ban and a ban on standing passengers. Negotiations dragged on into the next year. After a lengthy delay, the GMWU indicated that it would accept the offer, while the TGWU looked like taking their rejection to action. Jim Taylor put the TGWU’s view strongly. “We shall not sell ourselves for our pieces of silver. Neither the busmen nor I could be such a Judas.” The possibility of some Derby buses being staffed by GMWU crews horrified the TGWU. There was an offer of 10/- a week on the basic, backdated to December 14th, and a 10/- bonus backdated to June 15th, but only on condition that OMO could be introduced. In late August, Taylor thought the outlook “cloudy”, but there was no actual withdrawal of labour. There had been an overtime ban and a ban on rest-day working since the end of 1967. However, on Saturday 24th August 1968, TGWU crews engaged in a lightening strike, after workers were provoked by a draft agreement produced by the council. The employers were anxious that any local agreement be in line with their Federation’s general approach, but the TGWU aimed simply to avoid the attentions of the Department of Employment, given the existence of a Government pay policy. An option now seemed possible of either the double 10/- offer, or a more attractive straight £1 across the board on the flat rate, which would flow though onto all premium payments and thus be worth much more.
Meanwhile bus services from Alfreton were severely hit, when eighty Trent employees struck over the length of the working day. Their aim was to obtain a levelling of the hours worked in each day across the week. There was a general sense of dissatisfaction amongst bus workers, magnified by resentment at government interference designed to undermine the pressure being exerted to radically-improve wages and conditions. Councillor Longdon, Chairman of the Omnibus Committee in Derby, warned the council that if legislation were brought in by the Government to freeze the bus workers’ pound, “they would have no alternative but to take the most -dramatic possible action”. [134]
In January 1969, the pound was allowed after a great deal of pressure. Derby introduced OMO for the first time as a result, initially as a trial in March. The first women bus drivers were given training in July 1970 and the practice of eliminating the conductor and the driver collecting fares now began to be known as OPO. This wages militancy continued. Derby Corporation stopped work on a Saturday in May 1970, so that union members could attend a mass meeting. Led by Mavis Clayton, chair of the ‘5/100 branch, a one-day strike of the bus workers also occurred in September – in protest at the rejection of a national claim, whilst a ban on standing passengers was imposed. Meanwhile in March 1970 all of MGO, parts of Barton and all of Trent staged a one day unofficial protest over an unsatisfactory 12% pay settlement, narrowly approved by the NCOI. Jim Taylor commented that it was a “successful demonstration of busmen’s’ (sic) determination to seek a decent, living wage without having to work excessive overtime”. Whilst in the third week of October 1970, a slim majority of the 350 strong Derby Corporation bus crew “rallied” to a call by Jim Taylor to end a long strike. He had expressed his belief that the council would show “a new sense of realism” towards their pay demands, for the experience so far was “not a pleasant one”, according to Jim Taylor. Fourteen days of notice of further action was given “unless positive overtures” were made, within a week a settlement was reached, giving an additional supplement to a National Joint Industrial Council deal. An attendance bonus of 30/- for a five day week, plus 6/- for a six or seven day week was conceded. But a ban on standing passengers was to remain until a national settlement was reached. [135]
The TGWU began to enjoy a widening prominence in virtually every sector and one interesting example of this was within Derby Co-operative Society. Since the local USDAW branch dominated employment in the Co-op and was especially noted for a vibrant leftism, it may be that the more `modern’ image of the local TGWU held attractions for the management of the Society. There was certainly a comfortable relationship between the Society and the TGWU’s district leadership. Whatever the facts, it is clear that in the post-war period the TGWU’s initial involvement in the DCS Coal Department spread from its obvious and legitimate interest as representatives of road transport workers to most grades of staff, except shop workers.
Coal was the prime source of domestic fuel and was conveyed to individual homes by DCS employees, but there was serious competition with private coal haulage operators and indirectly and increasingly with electricity. This put pressure on the cost effectiveness of the DCS business and, all during the 1950s, repeated instances arose of unease amongst the workforce with both their employer and with, the way the TGWU handled their problems. A special meeting held of the DCS coal department members of both the TGWU and USDAW was held on Friday 13th November 1953. A large attendance of employees considered concerns over the bonus scheme. Daily takings in 1946 had been £15, but as wartime restrictions were eased, these were by now up to £42. However, no modification of the bonus scheme in line with this had been achieved.
A revised scheme was introduced in December 1954, after long delays in meeting the Society’s representatives. What progress there may well have been was poorly managed, since there is evidence of considerable despondency and lack of faith in union organisation. In July 1954, the TGWU members met to elect a new “collector”, or shop steward, (it is significant that there was, seemingly more concern with the collection part of the representative’s responsibilities than his representational role) to replace one who had resigned due to “the difficulties he has been experiencing in obtaining monies from the members”. A factor may have been that TGWU contribution rates had been increased in January 1953 but it had been ten years since the last increase. More likely, there was serious dissatisfaction with earnings amongst the coal men. The meeting to elect a new steward was abortive and members were exhorted to post their contributions to the local TGWU office. [136] In November 1954, a joint mass meeting between USDAW and the TGWU heard a report on wage negotiations, but there was no difficulty then in getting an attendance. The problem of keeping membership up to date continued until October 1958, when the DCS offered facilities to the TGWU for the deduction of union contributions from wages, one of the first such developments locally. [137]
The TGWU had also established a presence amongst DCS bread roundsmen, all of whom were drivers. A dispute took place on Saturday 16th May 1959, when bread supplies were not available at the bakery in reasonable time to allow effective distribution and this adversely affected earnings. Arising from this, a joint consultative committee was set up, which was designed to alleviate the poor communications between management and workers which had led to the problem in the first place. [138] It may have been the advantageous outcome of this dispute that laid the basis for an expansion of TGWU membership in the DCS amongst coal men outside of Derby. Employees of the DCS Coal Department in Ashbourne joined the TGWU at the beginning of 1959, probably because of a unresolved problem they had. It does not appear that much progress was made on this, because they announced their intention to withhold membership contributions to the union when agreed “mess room” facilities failed to materialise. This was much to the annoyance of Joe Hull, the TGWU District Organiser, who thought the members had “got a nerve” in blaming the union for the delay. [139] A hut was eventually provided, but a whole variety of concerns about working conditions surfaced. The lack of decent sanitary conditions especially remained a problem. Although DCS continued to argue that as they were only tenants of British Rail, it was difficult for them to carry out improvements. Hull advised the men to pursue the complaints through the appropriate machinery.
Over the winter of 1959-60, tensions in the DCS Coal Department grew and twenty men at St Mary’s Wharf and Friargate stopped work after disciplinary action was taken against a driver who refused to accept an order over a disputed matter, despite management’s appeal that they wait upon the advice of Hull. But the full-time official declared that “there is no reason whatever for any stoppage of work as the relationship between the union and the Society is of the highest … I would urge all my members in this department to return to work immediately”. The management had approached Hull for this statement, but his members had sought no such thing. Dissatisfaction with the incentive bonus scheme constantly emerged when good weather came and demand for coal naturally diminished and earnings declined. The Ashbourne men were particularly concerned over the long and awkward “carries”, or distances from the lorry to the householders’ coal store, and the long distance deliveries to remote countryside locations, since both factors adversely affected their bonus. [140]
Thirteen items of complaint were notified to the union in April 1963 by the DCS Coal Department membership. Joe Hull must have been on holiday since his colleague, the bus officer, Jim Taylor wrote to the Society. [141] The membership threatened further industrial action in May, but were constrained to wait upon further developments. Once more, in an atmosphere of frustration on August 31st 1965, the coal men took industrial action. Perhaps it was not a coincidence that Hull was once again on holiday. Whatever the case, it was Taylor who picked up the dispute. The issue was familiar, general dissatisfaction with bonus earnings and, related to a better understanding of this, individual notification to employees of detailed information on their personal bonus, overtime and basic earnings. An immediate return to work was obtained after Taylor obtained assurances on future discussions on the outstanding grievances. But there was more, which reflected an increasingly contemporary approach of shop stewards’ involvement and democracy within the T&G.
A new Coal Department works committee representing the workforce was constituted, two of whom in future would always “accompany the officer and be present at the discussions with management”. This would be contrary to the practice which had been adopted in the past, when the full time official had met the management, discussed the grievances and then communicated the results to the membership, almost as if they were a third party. It seemed as if the long-standing problems in the Coal Department were drawing to an end and the temptation to conclude that the union’s members had not always had the support they desired is strong. [142] But the days of the DCS Coal Department were numbered after the Clean Air Act came into force in 1964 and Government energy policy favoured a shift from the use of domestic coal to coal fired power stations. This was linked to a diminution of the rail network. After the closure of the local railway station caused more work in loading coal, the men at Ashbourne coal depot complained again at what they saw as unfair treatment as far as the bonus was concerned. The outcome is unrecorded and uncertain for, within only a few years, the entire operation of domestic coal distribution had passed into history.
The TGWU enjoyed some growth in these years in the road haulage sector, which had not been an especially strong sector for the union locally. The 1947 Transport Act had brought rail, dock, canal and road transport into public ownership, but the latter nationalisation was reversed by the Tory Government in 1953. Nonetheless, many small road haulage companies were amalgamated into British Road Services (BRS), which remained in public ownership for another three decades and provided a considerable base for the union to expand in locally, as in many other parts of the country. TGWU members employed by BRS engaged in a national stoppage in 1951. Derby BRS employees loyally followed the dispute and the Meadow Lane headquarters, Cameron Road depot and Pickford’s heavy haulage depot saw pickets outside. These adopted an obviously adamant attitude, which contrasted strongly with the mood in North Derbyshire, where most depots continued to work.
British Oxygen’s local presence was largely a distribution role, providing the TGWU with a strong base amongst another group of lorry drivers. Over a hundred TGWU members immediately stopped work at the Raynesway factory of British Oxygen, after an employee had been dismissed for smoking, in disputed circumstances. The strikers, by a small majority, agreed to return to work for the afternoon, to allow negotiations after the company refused to talk under duress. Jim Taylor conducted the negotiations and came out, declaring that “management were not prepared to meet the union halfway and he had never before come across such a situation”. A mass meeting was held at 5.40 pm and this unanimously decided to strike once again. The men believed that a reprimand would have, been more appropriate to the unreported circumstances. Clearly the incident was only the tip of the iceberg, for there had been a “hardening of management-labour relations at the factory in recent months. There’s     more to this than just one incident”, one worker said. In time, no doubt, the problem would be resolved and the British Oxygen membership established good working relationships, based upon mutual respect. [143]
The TGWU sought to establish itself as a general union, in every conceivable sector.         Union membership in the June quarter of 1955 increased at Rolls Royce and            Granwood Flooring in Riddings, whilst recruitment efforts were made at Seymour Castings and Joicies Bakery. [144] Whilst the union also enrolled a number of members employed by Bemrose’s Printing Works as ink and varnish makers. As Celanese became increasingly a chemical, rather than textile firm and as the TGWU easily fought off the minimal competition from the Chemical Workers Union, it        presented itself as the union for that sector as in many others. Lead extraction in        Derbyshire turned to lead processing and use, as it did so the TGWU was seen as       the union for that industry. The TGWU established itself in the immediate post-war         period at Cox’s lead and paint works on Normanton Road and during all that period, Cox’s uneventfully followed the Paint Varnish and Lacquer Industry JIC. But the firm was taken over by Goodlass and Wall Associated Lead in 1962 and, in consequence, discontinued paint manufacture. In the following year the company refused to apply the JIC’s increase of overtime premia to time-and-a third. The TGWU had established itself in Cox’s possibly as it did in many manufacturing companies, by first recruiting the lorry delivery drivers and then gradually seeping into a plant through warehouse        staff and then production staff. This tendency set the union firmly on one side of the strong road-rail controversies which beset the transport industry and the relevant trade unions from the 1960s. [145]
iii) British Railways
The war period had dramatically altered the stern, authoritarian industrial relationships in the railway workshops in Derby. As tanks, guns and aircraft parts were handled relations improved. So much so, that Les Clay, then on the works committee, believed that “after the war relations were tip-top between the management and the unions”. Although the NUR’s main historian has noted that “only in about 1952 did consultation become an effective mechanism” in the workshops. Workers at the Carriage and Wagon and the Loco Works held a ten-minute sit-down strike in 1947 at the cancelling of “tea facilities”. This arose out of the introduction of the five day 44 hour week. The employers had unilaterally withdrawn tea facilities without the agreement of the national joint negotiating body. Another instance of unrest was the joint agitation by NUR, AEU, ASSET and RCA supervisors, dissatisfied with the erosion of their differentials in 1950. However, apart from relatively minor matters, there were few areas of conflict in the workshops until some tension in 1955. Whilst in 1968, 69 workers, mostly Electrical Trades Union members, struck without exhausting procedure over “dirty money” allowances for stripping down locomotives in the Erecting Shop at the loco works. Such was the flavour of the times. [146] There was, however, much more controversy and conflict concerning the traffic staff.
                        The NUR was involved in action in 1949, which resulted in strike-breaking by the non-TUC and non-Labour Party organisation, the Union of Railway Signalmen. This body maintained an interest in Derby, holding a national conference in the town. The organisation had avoided strikes, especially those which might have a political content ever since its formation in 1924. In contrast, the NUR’s leadership decided upon national strikes on four occasions: 1953, 1954, 1958 and 1960. In each case last minute concessions averted a strike. Two special courts of inquiry decided essentially in favour of the employees over wages matters.
In 1953, an offer of 4/- increase was improved upon after a total rail strike was threatened. ASLEF and TSSA were offered a review of the wages structure. Only the intervention of the Minister of Labour, Sir Walter Monckton, in proposing such a settlement had prevented conflict. Yet, the NUR had to propose strike action again in 1954, as Christmas approached and the settlement of 1953 had still not been received. About eight thousand railway workers locally faced the prospect of a strike from January 9th 1955. ASLEF had obtained more from arbitration causing the NUR to refuse a 15/- offered increase. The circumstances surrounding this caused a dispute to occur, when ASLEF found that it was not going to get this differential. ASLEF used the Clarion Club in Loudon Street as its headquarters during the strike, which began on midnightSaturday May 28th 1955.
The Derby branch had a delegate, F Ryley, on a North Midlands Central Strike Committee. The union had planned and prepared well for the showdown. During the first few days, rumours abounded over the strike ending before it had even begun. Out of the 666 men at the Derby depot 563 were out on strike, the remainder being NUR members. But 59 of these left their union to join ASLEF and the strike. After one week, another six men came across to ASLEF, although five ASLEF remained at work. L J Kirk, the local ASLEF secretary wrote to Derby Trades Council to ask for assistance from its Distress Fund and in the second week of the strike, DTC gave £5 to the loco drivers’ branch. The strike had an immediate impact on some industries. Qualcast gave notice of lay-offs to 1,300 employees, due to the lack of raw materials, although in the event the lay-offs were delayed considerably. The strike ended on June 4th, with the principle of skill differentials recognised. The amount of the award was referred to arbitration. [147]
The workshops very nearly engaged in major conflict in 1955. The Carriage and Wagon works in Derby actually decided to strike in February 1955. This was rescinded in favour of a later date in March. The employers had proposed a national increase of 5/-, providing two rates of 71/- and 78/6d. It seems that other parts of the country were receiving 2/- above this, while the Derby men were also denied the higher grade of the railway pension scheme. While this was eventually resolved, the fundamental problem of low wages in the industry had not been tackled. Even one Tory MP, on a visit to Derby, had to express sympathy with the railway worker earning only £12 a week, while “men piloting aeroplanes; carrying only a few passengers get about £3,000 a year”. [148] Moreover, it became increasingly clear that the Tory Government had no real commitment to the rail industry, whether it was freight or passenger traffic. It favoured car manufacturers and the road haulage lobby, both being largely private and geared to profit.
This philosophy was enacted in the 1962 Transport Act, which amongst other things refused to allow the rail workshops to compete for engineering orders outside railways. This was a profitable sideline, which the pre-nationalisation rail companies had always sought. The Act also provided the basis for the notorious Beeching cuts. Branch lines were not the only target; the workshops received their share of the offensive. The immediate response of the workshops was to protest vigorously. On Wednesday 29th August 1962, the two plants stopped entirely, staging a gigantic march through the town. It had been announced that, nationally, some 20,000 workshop jobs would go within five years. The fear that Derby would no longer be a railway town was widespread. The procession was nearly half a mile long and wound its way from the Carriage and Wagon, along London Road and Ascot Drive. The protest was both largely spontaneous and unofficial, but the full force of feeling ensured that not only the local NUR organiser, Jim Hall, backed the event, but George Brown MP also declared his support. The latter was careful to stress that he hoped the workers would not “spoil it” by indulging in a series of unconstitutional demonstrations. [149]
A mass meeting was called by the NUR at the Central Hall in Derby. Thousands of leaflets were distributed at factory gates and football matches. But hopes of an overspill meeting at this more restrained and formal affair proved optimistic, for about 700 turned up to practically fill the haIl. [150] A national one day stoppage was called for October 3rd, to oppose the Government’s plans. Stations and tracks were deserted. As part of the national protest, some two thousand NUR members in Derby marched through the town from the station to the Market Place. [151] In May 1963, the NUR called off another planned action, a three day stoppage, after further negotiations were offered. However, despite concessions and pay-offs, the bulk of the line closures were carried out. Even if the consequent effect on Derby’s workshops was not as devastating as first feared, the next few decades would see decline rather than growth. Every passenger station in Derbyshire bar six was closed down, whilst the future of the Rowsley marshalling yards was in jeopardy. Rumour about the yards, which employed about 700 people came to a head in 1964, with formal notice of closure. Workshops everywhere were subject to severe attack, but the Derby plants were told of a plan to invest £1.25 million in modernising the Loco Works. This was expected to double the output of the works and ensure the security of the jobs of the three thousand people there for some time to come.
A dispute in February 1966 saw co-ordination between the NUR branches in Derby. G H Perry was the “Strike Secretary” and a Joint Branches meeting was held on February 8th. The No. 3 branch reported that members were being “circularised” and a public hail had been booked in Chaddesden. An advertisement was placed in the Evening Telegraph concerning signing on arrangements and paying out of dispute benefits. Nos. 1 and 2 branches would sign on at St Albans, Duffield at the Kings Head, No. 9 at the Malt Shovel, Kedleston Street, which would also be the headquarters for a picket of Friargate and Uttoxeter Road rail centres. It was to be made clear to members that they should sign on every day. Haslam of Milford was to co-ordinate picketing arrangements and the strike secretary was to be provided with a list of entrances. “Brother Ham moved (that) watchmen stay in”, but this was not even seconded. “Brother Ling (proposed) Gatemen & Watchmen & Power Station staff be brought out For 12 Against 1”. A mass meeting was to be arranged for Sunday morning. Picketing leaders were appointed for the various locations: G&W Works, Loco and EtchesPark, Motive Power, Station, Chaddesden, St Mary’s, Friargate, Signal Boxes, Spondon and Duffield. [152]
iv) The National Coal Board
Nationalisation was both the making of and, ultimately, also eased the demise of the coal industry; the post-war years being largely an unrelieved experience of slow decline. Vesting day was celebrated one bitterly cold Sunday in January 1947 and the heavy snow which fell the following month caused a sudden depletion in coal stocks. Eight thousand workers in Derby and the surrounding area were laid off without wages. These lay-offs were condemned by trades unionists, but the efforts of the miners and of Emanuel Shinwell, the Fuel and Power Minister, were applauded. Such was the power of coal that it could cripple the nation’s industry, if it were in low supply. Over the next few years, miners in the East Midlands responded as elsewhere to patriotic calls for increased production, after all it was now ‘their’ industry. Absenteeism diminished, output rose, while loss of time due to industrial disputes in the area was only a third of the previous year’s figure in 1949. [153]
Gradually, there were increasing signs of dissatisfaction, for the tone of industrial relations seemed more and more to resemble the old style of management. Even so, the union remained largely wedded to the notion that as this was now ‘their’ industry, conflicts ought not to arise. This mainly explains how the compliance of most miners to the savage cut backs of their industry in the 1950s and 1960s was achieved. In 1951, one hundred delegates, representing some five thousand clerical and supervisory workers employed by the National Coal Board (NCB) in the North Midlands area decided upon an overtime ban and the convening of membership meetings to consider strike action. The general complaint was that most had not had an increase since mid-1947, despite the massive rise in prices since then. The wages of the NUM’s members rose from £5 15s 0d to £7 15s 0d a week from November 1947 to January 1954, but there was a longer term difficulty which was not resolved.
Mechanisation in the mines rose dramatically. Less than a tenth of output was power-loaded in 1955. But by the end of the 1960s the position had reversed, less than a tenth was manually loaded. [154] The industry was seemingly expanding and there was a massive demand for coal. Pit closures did not necessarily worry miners in such a situation and there was almost a degree of enthusiasm in the co-operation provided by the NUM. The 1950 Plan for Coal had been very optimistic about the future, but after 1957 there was a dramatic contraction in the industry. Opposition to the NUM’s official and rather compliant leadership began to grow. Bert Wynn, the General Secretary of the Derbyshire NUM and a prominent Communist of long standing, until he left the Party in the wake of the events in Hungary, had long been out of favour with Will Lawther, the NUM’s national President. When Wynn asked for the result of a ballot amongst the NUM’s delegation to the TUC on who would be their nominees for the General Council, he was accused of “challenging the integrity of the counting clerk and was completely insulted by Sir Will Lawther and subjected to a torrent of abuse”.
Wynn stood for the national Presidency of the union in 1960, when Lawther stepped down. But so did three other prominent left wingers. Between them, they received 57% of the poll, Wynn coming sixth out of the seven candidates. The result was a bitter lesson for the left, for in consequence the NUM had Sidney Ford as President, “who not only had never worked down a pit but had been employed for most of his working life as a clerk in the NUM offices”. [155] The Derbyshire area of the NUM published a pamphlet, “A Plan for the Miners”, ‘which Ford used as the basis for much of his keynote speech at the 1964 national NUM conference, launching a vigorous attack on the pamphlet. Wynn prophetically warned the Area Council of Derbyshire in 1964 that the rest of the decade would see labour drastically cut. He estimated that 20% of the Derbyshire coalfield would be cut, well beyond that required by the process of exhaustion of old pits.
The Labour Government’s National Plan in 1965 envisaged a drop in manpower of 30% overall in the industry by 1970 and the gradual substitution of oil for coal. It was only a confirmation of a policy direction already taken by the Tory Government, when the NCB had unilaterally announced a major closure programme in 1958. For precisely the same occurred in November 1965, the most savage cutbacks were announced. The massacre of pits reached a new height in 1968, by which time the number of pits nationally had been reduced to one third of what it had been at nationalisation. While the labour force was cut by about 40% between 1964 and 1968 alone. At the outset of the 1965 plan, Bert Wynn told separate mass rallies of hundreds of miners at Heanor, Ripley and llkeston that by 1969 there would be 2,800 jobs lost in that immediate area. Even though all of the closures were supposed to be due to “workable reserves of coal being exhausted”, there was considerable disquiet.
After a meeting at Codnor, between the NUM and local authority representatives and local MPS, it was agreed that the Government be urged to assist new industries in Derbyshire. Some three thousand miners in the Alfreton area alone faced redundancy. Six firms in new industries, employing around a thousand workers between them were already lined up to come into the area at that stage in 1965. Between 1963 and 1970, nine collieries in the Alfreton area closed with the loss of 5,710 jobs. The effect was marked. Unemployment in the Alfreton area increased, despite the new jobs, from 1.2% in 1966 to 6.5% in 1969. Or, put another way, the numbers employed in mining in that area in 1961 meant that some 28% of the employed were involved in mining. Ten years later, this was down to 10%. In the NCB’s North Derbyshire area, the number of collieries diminished from 37 in 1949 to 23 in 1966 and 14 in 1970. Output was however little reduced, being 14.5 million tonnes in 1949 and 10 million in 1970. But manpower had been savaged, for there were 37,500 men in 1949 in the coalfield, compared to 23,300 in 1966 and 14,700 just four years after that.
The union also saw big changes. Bert Wynn died in office, after 24 years as Secretary of the Derbyshire miners. Herbert Parkin, the compensation agent, took over from Wynn. Despite having left the Communist Party, Wynn had been more firmly committed to the left than his successor was. Parkin was “much more ambivalent about attacking the NUM establishment” than others on the left, where he none the less politically classified himself. Parkin’s own successor in 1973 was Peter Heathfield, whose own election should be seen as part of the process of a shift to left wing militancy associated with the NUM in the 1970s and beyond. Heathfield would end his time in the NUM as its national General Secretary. Dennis Skinner also appeared into prominence at this point, becoming the lay President of the Derbyshire NUM. The union adopted him as a prospective sponsored parliamentary candidate and he went to RuskinCollege and began to look for a suitable seat. One of Derbyshire’s mining MPS, Tom Swain, became President of the NUM’s substantial parliamentary group. He has been described as one who “understood the mechanics of capitalism with great simplicity and could locate the miners in it precisely”. [157]
The day wage system introduced in 1966 sharply reduced the number of local strikes which had been a special feature of the 1950s and 1960s. In a situation where oil was becoming expensive, as the Middle East crisis worsened, and the coal industry became more and more productive, the establishment of effective national bargaining assisted the rise of militancy. A new breed of relatively sophisticated and politically minded younger leaders emerged and these were determined to improve the lot of the miners. From a position at the top of the wages league just after the war, miners fell to twelfth place in 1970. The relative earning power of miners had fallen by a third.
The first signs of a new militancy were displayed in the last two weeks of October 1969, when an unofficial strike in Yorkshire spread to all coalfields including Derbyshire. The issue was the need to realistically reduce surface workers’ hours and to provide them with a fairer level of pay, for they had become the ‘Cinderella’ of the industry. One influential analyst of the miners’ militancy has described the affair as being less about hours than “about the phenomena of striking”. [158] After almost a generation of complacency, the miners were wakening up. The experimental events of 1969 foreshadowed the momentous events of the 1970s and the 1980s which would, if nothing else, guarantee the mining communities a historic, even seminal place in the history of late twentieth century trades unionism.
v) The engineering industry
Alderman Sturgess retired in November 1947, after 35 years as the AEU District Secretary in Derby. In the elections for his successor, Bob Kirk, a Rolls Royce shop steward, beat Les Clay for the position by the merest of margins. Sturgess had been Clay’s benefactor, so it was a big blow to Clay, who saw Sturgess as “the nicest man I ever knew”. [159] Sturgess had been a father figure to Clay, when the younger man had been an apprentice at Haslam’s and Sturgess had been shop steward there. But Clay did not have to wait long for an opportunity for a full time position. He had been offered a supervisory job at the rail workshops in 1947, but would have been financially worse off. Yet, within two years, there would be another chance, when Dick Appleby retired as Divisional Organiser, covering the area between Crewe and Leicester whilst being based in Derby. After 28 years in the L000 Works, Clay found himself the only official at his level knowledgeable enough of the industry to take on national responsibility for it. In particular, there was the secretary-ship of the LMS Railway Line Committee for the Workshops. Both Clay and Kirk were based at the AEU’s prestigious premises on Osmaston Road, Derby, from around 1950.
Two thousand shop stewards from all unions involved in the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions (CSEU) passed a resolution at a mass meeting at King’s Hall in Derby, pledging support to the CSEU’s claim for a 15% increase in wages in 1953. The idea of a national 24 hour strike was endorsed. The CSEU had been reluctant to move to the presentation of annual pay demands, but had been forced to do so by high living costs. The AEU was strongly for the one day strike action, but controversy broke out when Cyril Bradley of the TGWU refused to allow the AEU amendment for a strike to be put to his proposal for expressing generalised, indefinite support for the claim. In the end, Bradley backed down after warnings of a split vote. [160]
The one day strike occurred on December 2nd, but the employers stubbornly refused any increase. The action meant that some workers were involved in a strike for the first time in their lives. The ironworks at Stanton broke a 15 year strike free record, when the CSEU called five hundred workers out on the 24 hour action. In that area alone, most of the engineering factories were out. Only 5% of the workers appeared at Rutland Foundries, while all AEU members at least were out at Ariel Pressings, Chamos Hosiery, A Booth and Sons and Fletchers, which were all in the Ilkeston area. Crossley-Premier Engines at Sandiacre and G R Turner’s at Langley Mill were out 100%. Nearly all of Derby’s factories were silent for the day. A ban on overtime and piecework was decided upon from January 1954. In response, the Minister of Labour rather promptly appointed a court of inquiry, which nonetheless proposed an award based on the employers’ offer of 6s 6d for unskilled, 7s 6d for semi-skilled and 8s 6d for the skilled. Thus, a major conflict in the industry was averted, even if the ambitions of engineering workers were not – at least for the long term.
Two tier pay bargaining became the norm, as many firms agreed productivity rises or bonus and incentive schemes. The national minimum rate became more relevant as a standard from which premium rates and holiday pay were calculated. Thus from 1956 and into 1957, national negotiations dragged on. The employers offered nothing at all. In response, the unions began a series of cumulative strikes which began on March 16th. The plan was that within two weeks the entire industry would stop. At the height of the dispute, when its full force was about to come, amidst great controversy Bill Carron, the AEU’s extremely right wing leader, used his casting vote to end the dispute. The employers had offered more, a 6/- increase on the basic at the lower end of the pay scales. A court of inquiry reported in May, offering an alternative to the unions of either accepting the offer as it stood on the table, or to accept extra cash with strings to control ‘unconstitutional’ strikes, that is to say those strikes that did not wait on the lengthy and cumbersome disputes procedure. Merely progressing a constitutional dispute through procedure involved consuming much time; leastways oftentimes, it seemed that it was deliberately engineered to be so. Disputes did not seem to involve action but merely the bureaucracy of arranging a series of staged meetings, culminating in a national level conference always held in York. Until then, neither party was expected to take action of any kind. The agreement that provided for this tardy procedure, which of course hugely favoured the employers, dated back to the 1922 lock out. It had never really been acceptable to the unions, always seen as something forced upon them at a time when they were weak and lacked the ability to resist the imposition of a one-sided procedure. The employers desired to maintain and even strengthen their control over unofficial strikes, which all of those outside of this procedure would be. In 1972, the unions would eventually be able to jettison the more restrictive of the York procedures, with a hearty sigh of relief.
As far as the 1956-7 negotiations were concerned, the CSEU decided by a majority vote to accept the court of inquiry’s proposition of a higher increase, but to seek talks to eliminate the more unpalatable of the strings attached to this. Skilled men got 11/- but unions had to agree at national level to impose a twelve month standstill on all wage applications in the industry. This kind of thing was bound to store up trouble for the future, as the national leadership of the AEU assumed a studied moderacy the effects of wages drift began to undermine differentials and fuelled resentment between time served workers and semi-skilled ones who could boost earnings by deft manoeuvring of piece work systems. However, localised bargaining suited areas like the Midlands, where considerable improvements over and above the national minimum rates were possible. Basic rates at Rolls Royce in Derby in 1960 varied from 54/- to 64/- plus 2/- ex gratia bonus for a 42 hour week. There was a complex wages structure, which allowed for considerable improvements at shop floor level in the no less than 140 specified occupations. Other areas of the country fared less well, but even in places like Derby and its environs the slow devaluing of the national minima especially impacted upon the unskilled worker. It was only towards the end of the 1960s, with the election of Hugh Scanlon as AEU President on a programme of militant action to uplift basic rates, was there a resumption of agitation. After national negotiations broke down, a one day strike was called by the CSEU in May 1968. This was especially strongly supported by the Amalgamated Union of Engineering and Foundry Workers (AEF), renamed thus following the adherence of foundry workers to the AEU. Some eight thousand workers came out in the Derby area. Scanlon was prevented from attending the Derby Trades Council annual dinner even as late as October, due to the pressure of national negotiations, so prolonged was the pressure.
Pic: Archie Wynn (left), still a firm Communist,  with Derek Robinson on a solidarity with the miners march in 1984
A mass meeting of some three hundred shop stewards from all the CSEU affiliates declared support for another strike in October, at the same time expressing hopes for a settlement. Archie Wynn, the CSEU District President, revealed that many local companies were prepared to settle, thus promoting some support for the idea of seeking separate district negotiations ahead of a national resolution. Jim Taylor of the TGWU was firmly against this, asking the local CSEU to consider the situation of others who were not in such a strong position as Derby. “Is it back to ‘pull the ladder up, Jack, I’m alright?!!”, he asked. The incident is interesting, since it touches on an oddity, that the Derby AEF was less enthusiastic about Scanlon and his left wing alliance with the TGWU’s new General Secretary, Jack Jones. (Although Archie Wynn was himself firmly on the left and had long been a Communist Party member.)
The prevailing mood signified the start of a shift in role which would become more apparent in the 1970s, of the AEF, soon renamed the AUEW, drifting to the right, whilst the TGWU’s leaning to the left would become more and more pronounced. Meanwhile, at the 1968 Derby CSEU mass meeting, despite some support for the idea of “guerrilla strikes”, that is to say selective and unannounced action, and overtime bans, it was resolved to back the national federation executive’s call for a concerted industry wide strike. But, at the end of the day, a compromise was reached with the Engineering Employers Federation which settled the matter.
vi) The hosiery trade
In 1947, when the Amalgamated Society of Textile Workers recruited hosiery workers in Derbyshire, the National Union of Hosiery Workers (NUHW) proposed an amalgamation. But the former did not agree, although it promised to maintain the rates negotiated by the other union where they overlapped. The attitude of both was largely dictated by the notion of extreme specialisation which dogged the textile trade unions. None the less, this may have at the time seemed to be appropriate, after all the hosiery workers’ union had some five thousand members in Derbyshire and felt increasingly more confident. Within five years, this had increased to some nine thousand, or almost a third of the new union’s national membership.
The hosiery industry faced a dramatic lack of skilled labour in the immediate years following the war. Modern techniques were known of, but without a massive capital investment, the new machines would not be bought. Moreover, there was an extraordinary lack of raw materials. Only the introduction of new, artificial fibres, such as nylon, would help boost the industry over the 1950s. The average wage of hosiery workers rose by no less than one half as much again in the five years from 1946, to £8 17s 8d for males, as the bargaining position of workers much improved. The general lay-offs in the bad winter of 1947, due to the shortage of coal, saw hosiery workers reach agreement for industry wide protection against loss of earnings. H M Moulder, the NUHW President, was pleased to announce this guarantee of 36 hours a week on a brief visit to Belper. Most firms in the textile industry were able to cope during the fuel crisis, although Stevenson’s Dyers of Ambergate did lay off workers for a short period.
The NUHW was involved in a dispute at Blount’s of Spencer Road, Belper, in 1950. A token 24 hour strike had initially been called, when the company allowed two new starters to operate new machinery which enabled them to earn as much as £2 a week more than long standing employees. The argument over this had escalated into a full-blown strike. But this did not last more than a week and the union’s official advised a return to work on the basis of a reference of the dispute to the JIC, where the matter was eventually resolved. An expression of underlying tensions emerged in 1951, when some 250 women at Foster, Clay and Ward’s hosiery firm struck for 14 days over non-union labour. Three women had refused to join the union. The density of union organisation amongst women was not good and such explosions were few and far between. Derby and Midland Warp Knitting Mills of Chandos Pole Street, which had been established in 1935, reduced hours to a two shift system in 1958 because of a decline in trade without any difficulty. It was 1966 before two hundred women at Moore and Eady’s, employed on piecework in the knitwear section, went on unofficial strike over a wages issue. Some had lost as much as half of their normal earnings in a dispute over piecework prices. A mass meeting was held in the Markeaton recreation ground but, despite efforts by the union, the women determined to stay out.
Negotiations in the trade tended to be localised, district agreements being reached often without the involvement of the larger companies. As a result, these began pressing for more of a say in these matters and a national federation of employers, the Knitting Industries Federation, was set up in 1970. Even though Courtaulds, increasingly the largest firm in all aspects of the textile industry, remained outside the KIF. Thus, the stage was set for a major contest in the industry at a national level in the 1970s.
Finally, the Derby and Nottingham United Surgical Elastic Bandage Makers, which had been founded in 1857 was eventually wound up in 1966. The creation of the National Health Service had created a demand for Longdon’s hand made surgical stockings, but new technology had finally sounded the death knell for the framework knitting industry and an independent union after four hundred years of operation. [162]
vii) Postal workers
In 1964, postal workers engaged on their first ever major national battle, when the Government went back on a promise to accept, without reservation, the report of the Armitage Committee over pay issues. A one day strike was called in June, the first in the 44 year history of the Union of Post Office Workers (UPW), today part of the Communication Workers Union. The UPW had found its position had strengthened by adopting a firm stance. Councillor I Rowley told the trades council in Derby that after the union decided to embark upon action to force its wages claim, membership rose dramatically. The one day stoppage led to unofficial action, as members were increasingly frustrated by the apparent inability of their leaders to press their case to a successful conclusion. The main concern of postal workers was that the low wages meant staff shortages, which in turn led to late and delayed mail, which in turn raised doubts about the future security of employment, as businesses turned to alternative methods of information exchange.
A mass meeting of around five hundred UPW members in Derby agreed to renounce the future use of unofficial strike action at the very height of just such action, on Monday 14th July, after which an unofficial overtime ban had also been held. The union’s executive had expressed concern and the membership agreed to abide by their leadership. Councillor Ivan Knowles, the UPW’s branch secretary, described the unofficial strike as a symptom of his members’ indignation, but welcomed the restoration of union discipline. [163] But postal workers had not lost the taste for action. The sudden dismissal of Lord Hall as chairman of the Post Office saw Derby sorting office hold a protest strike for two hours on one Wednesday night in November 1970. Such developments showed the potential for action and the 1970s would see the first, sustained national strike. Whatever may be said about its outcome, it certainly proved a potential which many had thought did not exist.
viii) The building trades
A greater sense of unity between the various building trades unions emerged after the Derby Master Builders set up a local employers’ federation in January 1946. Indeed, the entire Midlands Counties Region of the National Federation of Building Trades Operatives was based at 4 Charnwood Street, Derby, up to the late 1960s. The unions in Derby held a NFBTO area meeting in July 1946, with the involvement of J J Grogan of the Plasterers, Sydney Smith of the Amalgamated Union of Building Trades Workers (largely bricklayers) and J Startin of the TGWU, who had been part of the Altogether Builders’ Labourers. NFBTO sought improved welfare conditions on the many new housing sites then being built. The post-war 1945 housing stock was low, but expectations were also very high. Young couples would no longer be content to live with in-laws or in a few rented rooms. The new Labour Government set out on a massive housing reconstruction and construction plan. The local consequence was the construction of massive council housing estates and one of NFBTO’s concerns was the need for better transport facilities for workers on the relatively remote and large Roe Farm estate then under construction. [164]
The industry was pretty quiet during the long period of boom due to the massive level of house building, especially for personal ownership via the mortgage system. The Tories were so committed to such a policy that it formed part of their strategy for de­politicising the working class. The aim was a ‘property owning democracy’. But, in common with many sectors, the moderacy of unions at the top mismatched the needs of workers at a local level. Union leaderships were content to trade increasing membership, via national joint councils, for increasingly irrelevant national minima. Whilst localised bargaining eased the tensions to some extent, the formal national frameworks often acted as a straight-jacket on such ambitions.
An example of these tensions, revealing the way that full time officials could act as a brake on rank and file militancy occurred at Willington power station in 1960. The Constructional Engineering Union withdrew the credentials of the “Spidermens’” shop steward, Tom Caulfield, because he was “too militant”. He in turn, complained that the personnel manager of the engineering contractors had been an official of the union and “used his knowledge of union procedure … to contact the CEU’s General Secretary and complain about members at the Power Station”. All but two of the 34 men backed their shop steward when he was threatened with dismissal, if he continued with union duties. The CEU’s Derby branch supported their position and expressed “disgust” at the General Secretary’s attitude. The 32 were promptly sacked. Such experiences were by no means uncommon in all branches of construction. The consequence for the building industry was that negotiations on uplifting the national agreement in 1963 led-to a national overtime ban and selective strikes. These developed into the first national strike for 40 years and local trades unionists were deeply involved in giving support to the campaign. A Brammer, the district official of the Woodworkers, was the local NFBTO secretary. The national claim was for a Is 6d an hour increase and a 40 hour week and this was matched by an offer of 81/2d for craftsmen and 4d for labourers, with a shorter working week applying only in the four winter months. Interference from the National Incomes Commission, part of the Tory Government’s statutory incomes policy framework, was blamed for the failure to achieve a settlement. [165]
This led to the convening of the first national stoppage since the 1 920s, albeit one based on selective action. Some eight sites in the Derby area were called out.
Amongst those hit were the George Wimpey housing site at Allestree, while new BREL (British Rail Engineering Limited) buildings on London Road were completely halted. Ford and Weston sought to avoid the strike action by moving men around sites. [166]
ix) The General and Municipal Workers Union
Dissatisfaction in this period with the progress of national negotiations was not by any means confined to a few sectors, such as we have seen so far. The National Union of General and Municipal Workers rebranded itself as the GMWU (today’s GMB) in the 1960s and very slowly the icy nature of that union’s moderation thawed in the warmth of rank and file involvement. A local delegate, one F Hambleton, at the 1953 annual conference of the whole union, voiced the dissatisfaction of Derbyshire’s quarry workers with the 1 1/2d an hour wage increase which they had been awarded that year. “If something is not done quickly our members will feel that we should move away from the National Joint Industrial Council and do our own negotiations as we did some years ago!’ In the long run, whilst a national council was kept in existence the union-organised establishments in the various building materials extraction sector would create localised frameworks to bolster their terms and conditions.
North and west Derbyshire was home to a good deal of employment organised by the GMWU, but another major industry which the union was based in locally, as elsewhere, was the gas industry and this experienced similar reliance on the joint industrial council framework. Perhaps this was no bad thing in the long run, given the transformation of the municipally and privately owned energy sector into a nationalised system in the post-war period. [167] Local signs of fortitude were rare from this union and usually arose because of a badly handled problem rather than any structured militancy. A threat of a strike in 1946 by the employees of Derby Gas Company at the Cavendish Street, Litchurch Street and Belper works was lifted after a mass meeting. The dispute had arisen after the management had refused to allow Councillor J L Street, an employee of Derby Gas Light and Coke Company, to attend to council duties. Another factor had been the declaration of two redundancies, whilst German POWs were still employed. The NUGMWU local official, Councillor W F Ludlam, had “told the meeting of employees that they were going outside the frame of the negotiating machinery” and after a “lengthy discussion the men agreed to let the official handle the matter within the East Midlands JIC for the Gas Industry”. [168] In a similar vein, the dismissal of a worker at the Litchurch Street works caused an unofficial strike of about 250 employees. The employees had refused to be transferred to another job unless he had assistance. However, the case was referred to the East Midlands Appeal Committee of the Gas Industry JIC for resolution. [169]
x) Agricultural workers
The NUAW pressed hard for an improvement in the Wages Board rates set for 1946, as the basic wage was only £3 10s 0d. There was however some success in the sphere of hours and overtime premia. Derby NUAW was “thankful of the success”, but wanted to press on “until our full claim is realised”. They intended to carry on with the campaign, particularly trying to get non-union employees organised, as “we realise that it is unfair that (they) should accept all the benefits the union has fought for”. [170] The pressure was indeed kept up and even the independents on the Wages Board were won to improve the position. Subsequently, the Derbyshire Area Wages Board joined in with others to support anational minimum wage of 80/- a week. There were other problems. Derby NUAW discovered that children were employed on farms for a full day’s work, with no arrangements for meal breaks or even a drink in all that time. The assistance of the Trades Council was sought in October 1948, in approaching the Education Committee to arrange for a Welfare Officer to check into the affair.
There seems to have been some tension between the branch and their organiser, Seymour. In 1947 a resolution of dissatisfaction was passed on the “organiser’s attitude to workers’ cases”. Perhaps there was an element of political controversy, for Derby NUAW sent a delegate to a ‘peace rally’ held in London in 1948, to “impress the determination that Agricultural workers (do) not want to enter further conflicts”; this at a time when the very word ‘peace’ was considered by some to have Marxist connotations. Relations continued to be strained over the 1949-50 period, but were possibly eased by Seymour’s absence due to a long illness,culminating in his death in the middle of 1950, when G E (Tony) Barker took over. Barker, who was NUAW full-timer from 1951 to 1972, came from Newark. Lay members working with him were Alex Chisholm as chairman, whilst Harold Draper was secretary of the DerbyshireCounty committee which united all the branches in the area. Barker covered three counties, including Derbyshire. Membership in the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire area increased by nearly five hundred in the last few months of 1951 and the NUAW set itself an aim of a thousand members in the county of Derbyshire for 1953. Throughout the 1950s the union seemed to be set for a bright future. Barker reported in 1957 that income for the county of Derbyshire had grown by 225% since 1950, attributing this purely to the growth in membership. [171]
The 1960s began to show-the turn around in fortune-that was to beset the union as the industry became more and more mechanised. DerbyCentral NUAW reported £345 more collected in subscriptions in the final quarter of 1963 compared to the previous year, but this was actually with 27 less members. In an attempt to hold and possibly increase membership, a specialist recruiting officer, Cyril Young, visited Derbyshire in the course of 1964. In the Melbourne area alone there were as many as 40 new members made. While, in 1966, Barker reported that income in the area covered by him was up 7% on the previous year. (172] But the fact that the effort was being made and the optimistic reports were being presented seems to confirm the feeling that all was not perfect. Young again visited Derbyshire in 1966 and, with the assistance of a local activist, Bert Slack, toured the county concentrating on Ilkeston, Somercotes, Ripley, Doveridge, Cotton-in-the-Elms and Sutton-on-the-Hill. Barker retired in 1972 after 21 years of full-time work for the NUAW, when Dick Garwell took over as organiser. Slack was still active well into the 1980s, whilst Garwell was still in office when the union went into the TGWU.
Real difficulties surface in the record in 1967 in Belper and Etwall, where things were considered “not too good … it looks as though we shall have to get something done about it”. [173] In 1966, 279 new members were made in Derbyshire. By 1968 this figure was down to 133. This was a damaging trend, for the NUAW relied on high membership recruitment levels to offset losses. [174] In 1970, the Derbyshire Area Committee found that it “didn’t finish up so well in 1969 although we made 351 new members we must have lost more”. [175] Thus, the union faced a serious problem of membership loss in the 1970s which must inevitably have placed it in a difficult position to press home the needs of farm-workers and others in allied trades in rural areas. A change in name, to incorporate just such a breadth of appeal, made the union the National Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers (NUAAW). But its long-term future would be as a special trade section of the TGWU, when a general revitalisation was hoped for, given that the extremely costly system of services and back-up desired by rural workers could now better catered for. NUAAW membership loss was strongly affected by dangerous methods of farming and new areas of activity for rural trades unionism had to be looked for.
Aside from all this, the union was able to chalk up, to its great and long-lasting credit, a successful fight against the worst excesses of the tied-cottage system which in the 1970s culminated in legislation to improve the position of agricultural workers.
xi) Public services
When Roland Buxton (AUBTW), an old stalwart of the Derby Trades Council, said at a meeting of the council at the beginning of 1947 that corporation employees ought to be properly unionised, seeing that it was “ruled by a Labour council constituted mainly of trade union officials”, he was not only being prophetic. He had also put his finger on a contradiction which would grow more grotesque as Labour experienced office, not only in local government, but also in national government. The Labour Party was a creation of the trade unions, but the unions did not always attain special treatment from Labour politicians. (176] There were those who resisted the conclusions that sometimes emerged from these contradictions. For example, when the DTC decided to raise the question of nurses’ pay and conditions with the TUC, it was against the advice of the secretary, Chas Howell, who believed it to be a matter for the nurses’ own organisations alone. [177] There was still a Labour Government and the National Health Service was seen by trades unionists as very much ‘our’ creation.
Trades councils actually displayed. a very great interest in the new health system, on behalf of all those trades unionists who were unfortunate enough to have to use it. This interest as a ‘consumer’ rapidly turned to interest as trades unionists in the rights of workers in what began to become seen as an industry in its own right. A meeting of the DTC in March 1954 showed the main thrust of concern at this stage. Les Wallis of the NUGMWU moved a resolution criticising Derby’s hospital service for long waits for operations and the appointments system itself, caused by the inordinate number of patients having to wait. One entire day waiting for attention was one example quoted. Waiting lists of up to four years for an ulcer operation were severely criticised. None-the-less the complaints were dealt with by the hospital management committee to the “delight” of Howell, the DTC secretary. [178]
But unionisation of the hospital service was to prove more difficult than it perhaps ought to have been. Whilst local authority workers, who already had some reasonable degree of organisation fared better. Derbyshire County Council in 1951 declared that it desired employees to belong to a trade union, a position only just short of a closed shop. The National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) began to emerge strongly in this sphere. The union’s general secretary, Bryn Roberts, spoke at NUPE’s hundred strong first East Midlands rally in MatlockTown Hall in 1954. [179]
NUPE successfully gained a closed shop with South East Derbyshire Rural District Council in 1964. All new employees from then onwards had to join a union, although those who for religious reasons held an objection on grounds of conscience would be exempt as would existing employees. From September 1965, it became a condition of employment at Derby Corporation that manual workers join a union. This came about after two years of discussions on the matter between the unions and the authority. NUPE also began to organise successfully amongst ancillary staff in technical colleges. At Bishop Lonsdale, ancillary staff were in dispute over pay for several months in 1967, until it was agreed that nationally negotiated rates would apply.
All this was making NUPE potentially a very strong force within the public services. But it was not a process always to the liking of the established unions, such as the TGWU and the NUGMW. Indeed, NUPE was historically a split-off from the latter and to achieve a foothold in many authorities it had to dislodge or out-manoeuvre one of the bigger unions. Despite this, there were large areas of non-unionism in the local authorities and NUPE’s quirky vigour often won over these where others had failed or simply not bothered. Naturally, NUPE saw any area where there were public service manual workers as fair game and this sometimes led to friction. A lengthy process of debate and correspondence between DATUC and the TUC, over NUPE’s request to affiliate its Schools Branch and its Parks Branch to the Trades Council, proved very controversial. The TUC was also asked to settle a dispute between the two big general unions and NUPE in 1963 over hospital membership. NUPE had none at all in the Derby area and was anxious to obtain some, despite the attempts of the other two unions to exclude it. These were forlorn attempts in the long run, for NUPE ended up the biggest union in the health service locally, amongst ancillary workers at least. The Confederation of Health Service Employees (COHSE) made strong efforts to strengthen organisation amongst nursing staff in the Derby area in 1965. Hostility to trades unionism “on the part of some general hospital matrons” was cited as the reason for the existing weak position. However, the union was considerably stronger at mental hospitals, where male nurses were considered to be “not so easy to push around”. [1801 There was open hostility to unions within Derby hospitals. COHSE was in correspondence with hospital authorities for three years and reached “complete deadlock” as far as the recognition of nursing staff was concerned. Senior doctors were alleged to have dubbed this extremely moderate union as “Communist” and, in one hospital, 20 nurses had been pressured to leave the union only shortly after joining up. The irony of this was that COHSE’s constitution had a cold war relic forbidding Communist Party members from holding office in the union – thus the tag ‘Communist’ was hysterically inaccurate!
Derbyshire Children’s Hospital and DerbyCityHospital were quoted as establishments which caused difficulties. A D Jones, Derby’s COHSE secretary, was “unable to find any parallel to the Derby situation in any other hospital region” in 1966. [181] The management committee of the Derby No 1 hospital told DATUC that employees had the “fullest freedom” to join unions. [182] Yet, by April 1967, COHSE was still complaining that it had been refused permission to hold recruiting meetings in local hospitals. But few nurses were prepared to sign statements backing this up, so the union decided to take no further action. In time, it did become possible for all unions recognised nationally as appropriate for a particular grade to organise locally. Health service workers, for the first time, now moved toward the possibility of concrete action to defend and extend their working conditions. Yet, in a climate of relatively diminishing resources for the health service, this alone raised new doubts about the validity or propriety of such actions amongst the workers themselves.
Meanwhile, NUPE faced a little of its own medicine when a split-off in London in 1969 the Federation of Ambulance Personnel – established itself in Derby. Some 50% of the staff in some local hospitals and ambulance stations had joint membership of both bodies. There was a 48 hour stoppage, when the County Council refused to meet FAP representatives. FAP claimed 170 ambulance personnel out, but NUPE dismissed the claim as “wildly false”, estimating only 40 had worked restrictive duties. [183]
The Fire Brigades Union organised most firemen, but for much of the post-war period did not come into conflict with local or national government. However, there had been a 48-hour boycott of routine duties by Derbyshire firefighters in support of a national FBU pay claim for parity with the police in 1951, which resulted in 50% of the men in the county answering their union’s call. (There were no women fire fighters at this stage.) The affair had lumbered on, being enlivened when local authorities disciplined firemen for taking part in protest actions. The move was greeted with “profound disgust” by trades unionists, who regarded the stance of the councils as a “challenge to the whole trade union movement”. Derby Trades Council protested that “refusing to clean brasses and undertake drills” did not justify such action. The TUC was asked to give “full support to the FBU in this struggle”. [184] As an aside of some interest, one month later the DTC voted 38 to 11 to accept the president’s (D Cassidy) ruling that correspondence on a Co-op dispute be not read, on the basis of a TUC circular that advised that trades councils “not intervene in disputes unless they have the written permission of the union concerned”. [185] The contrast between the two issues was unexplained in the minutes. But it is likely that some left-right tension was involved in the reluctance to be involved in USDAW’s problem, whilst at this stage the FBU locally did not present such a problem.
In 1965, there emerged a problem over the introduction of the 48 hour week which caused Derbyshire’s 250 firemen to become involved in a dispute. When the County Council used delaying tactics, the FBU threatened to boycott voluntary inspections and field days. The part-time retained firemen – often notorious for seeing the job as a hobby and failing to effectively support the professionals – backed the full-timers in their dispute to reduce the standard 56 hours. The local authority determined not to introduce the 48 hour week until a scheme affecting duty schedules could be worked out involving tied-houses. The FBU believed they had proposals which could maintain present cover, but by a process of days off in lieu bring the average hours worked down to 48. In the end, the FBU and the DCC agreed to refer the dispute to national level, but not before there had been -unprecedented scenes of some five hundred firemen from a wide area assembled at Matlock bus station to march through the town. A similar march went through Derby and there were calls for the early retirement or, to be blunter, the resignation of the County’s Chief Fire Officer. Within just over a decade, fire fighters would embark on major industrial action against a Labour Government.
As indeed would local authority manual workers, in a series of what the media liked to call ‘dirty jobs’ strikes. The infamous and later ‘Winter of Discontent’ had an earlier parallel in 1970, when council workers’ unions posed a demand for a £16 10s 0d minimum wage. The average industrial wage was then £24. The stated aim of the unions was to eliminate the scandalous low pay that had worsened in local authorities over the 1960s. So, a 55/- increase on all rates then above this new minimum was demanded as well. In Derby, the town was in disarray as dustmen, sewage workers, commercial vehicle drivers of all kinds and others were involved in a work to rule. Four unions worked closely together on the campaign. Schools were threatened with closure and there was a march from the TGWU offices to the Market Place, after the refuse collectors had been on strike for a week. The union’s officer, Jim Taylor, warned of a total withdrawal of labour. For NUPE, Bob Jones made the position clear: “Pay us NOW the extra money we want or the strike will get worse.” [186]
A series of Labour councils conceded the 55/- increase and the £16 10s 0d minimum. Long Eaton did so; Clay Cross UDC unanimously agreed the claim in full without any trouble. But others resisted out of loyalty to Harold Wilson, as Prime Minister. A settlement came in sight when the government appointed Sir Jack Scamp to conduct an enquiry into the affair, just as NUPE declared itself ready to strike until Christmas. The stage was set for the stormy 1970s.
xii) White-Collar trade unionism
‘White-collar’ unionism increased enormously in the 1960s, being the single most significant reason for the growth of the TUC in the post-war era. ASSET, the scientific, engineering and technical workers association, began a campaign of organisation in Derby in 1953, as did the Association of Scientific Workers (AScW). The assistant general secretary of the former addressed the Trades Council EC, appealing for assistance. In the mid-1960s these two bodies came together to form the powerful Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs (ASTMS), with its charismatic and provocative general secretary, Clive Jenkins, dominating the union for much of its existence.
The AScW had a base within Rolls Royce going back to the late 1940s, but the profile earned by the newly amalgamated union in the period immediately after its formation ensured a greater presence. In 1969, there were some 1,500 ASTMS members in Derby involved in an overtime ban to pursue a 5% increase. 4% had been offered, with the Department of Employment to be consulted on the prospects for a £1 a week increase in return for productivity improvements. This conflict was significant in being the first major struggle, albeit on the rather narrow issue of wages, involving large numbers of white collar workers in the county.
The very next year, another overtime ban was engaged in by the Rolls Royce ASTMS membership. A six hundred strong meeting determined to combat a major programme of redundancies. They were joined by over 10,000 manual workers engaged in the same struggle. Although these lifted their action two days after it was imposed, while the ASTMS ban continued. ASTMS members were also involved in token stoppages at International Combustion in Derby against 300 compulsory redundancies in 1970. ASTMS had established itself in most major enterprises locally, often in competition with its then archrival, the old AESD, by now called the Draughtsmen’s and Allied Technicians Association. (This study does not seek to extend into the 1970s and beyond, but a few words about DATA’s later experiences seem appropriate here. DATA was later to become AUEW (TASS) in a link up with the AUEW, the old AEU; TASS being the Technical and Supervisory Staffs Section. Reacting against the sharp rightwards shift of the engineers in the 1970s, TASS then decided to break out on its own as ‘merely’ TASS. Under the influence of its Communist leader, Ken Gill, TASS spread into other sectors of manufacturing, including what had traditionally been ‘blue collar’ workers, and many mergers were undertaken. Old rivalries would eventually be subsumed as both TASS and ASTMS formed MSF, the Manufacturing, Science and Finance union. This in turn merged with the AEEU to form amicus.
Many engineering employers were very reluctant to see lower levels of management join trade unions, even to the extent of supporting organisations like the Foremen and Staffs Mutual Benefits Society, whose rules precluded members of the benefit society from belonging to their appropriate trade union. Several noted engineering firms in the Derby area were guilty of such a tactic. But if a union had to come, then let it be distanced from the manual unions, reasoned many an employer. ASTMS received a real shot in the arm when, along with the clerical workers union, then called the CAWU (later APEX, which subsequently joined today’s GMB), it obtained recognition from the British Steel Corporation, giving it a base at local steel works. The winning of this recognition was much to the annoyance of the traditional unions in the steel industry, which held out hopes of either creating or using their own white collar sections. Also, clerks at Bliss’s joined the CAWU in 1951, an early indication of the developing trend.
Among other unions to establish a base locally in this period was the National Union of Banking Employees. (Later the Banking, Insurance and Finance Union, which became Unifi and then merged into amicus.) It engaged in an overtime ban in 1960 in Derby, the first ever local industrial action for the union. There was a problem over the salaries of 14 managers for Derby Trustee Savings Bank and there were 63 in Derby out of 69 of the total employees of the bank in NUBE. Co-op Insurance agents also engaged in a satisfactorily concluded strike in 1956, these were members of NUCISE which was affiliated to the TGWU.
The Derby Teachers Association had 241 members by 1950, having doubled membership in the eight years of its existence. Along with other public sector workers, teachers sought militant responses in the late 1960s. National Union of Teachers (NUT) and National Association of Schoolmasters (NAS) members in Derbyshire, for the first time, held a half-day strike in November 1969. This was an extraordinary measure, revealing how deep the grievances were felt about pay. 1,200 teachers massed at the Mecca Casino in Derby one Monday morning, resulting in many a school being closed. After that, two Derby schools were amongst many selected by the NUT’s national executive for a two week strike closure in December. Students from BishopLonsdaleCollege and school students from the Olive Eden school joined in the protests, in a remarkable display of solidarity. (School students were themselves beginning to be organised into a national union, a development which did not successfully survive the 1970s.) In early January, four schools were to close in Derby, followed by a further ten later in the month – all part of the national wave of activity that eventually resulted in a committee of investigation into teachers’ pay.
The previously mentioned Mecca was itself involved in a trade union dispute, as the Locarno Ballroom in 1964. The National Association of Theatrical and Kine Employees (today part of BECTU, the media and broadcasting union) ended up calling for a boycott of the entire Mecca group after difficulties throughout the county in organising their establishments. Trades unionists were asked not to patronise Mecca Group enterprises, by either holding functions in them or attending functions there. The then Labour Mayor of Derby was Councillor John Dilworth, General and Municipal Workers full timer and DTC treasurer for many years. The fact that he attended many a function at the Locarno as part of his civic duties was a concern sufficient to encourage some to link this with the failure of DATUC to organise a picket line at the ballroom, as the Nottingham Trades Council had done. [187]
xiii) USDAW
According to Tom Torney, the USDAW full-timer in Derby, in 1948 there were about 2,500 members of his union, all but 300 of them in the “co-operative and butchers branches”. The rest were in a private distributive trade branch, the most difficult to organise. [188] The union embarked on a major campaign that year to win the half-day closing on Saturdays, to no avail, for the private traders were immovable on this point. However, nearly 800 members turned up to a mass meeting which decided to use all means within the union’s power to achieve their goal. (189] A turnout itself testifying to the strong desire felt by shop workers for the half-day and to the high degree of organisation attained.
The union was involved in a variety of campaigns – always with some vigour. Derby contributed some £90 to a national strike fund in 1951, when workers were involved in action to win a national JIC and basic agreements on wages and conditions. A packed meeting was held at Derby’s Merchant Hall. It was probably this dispute that Torney wanted to debate at the trades council. However, the president, D Cassidy, refused to allow correspondence to be read on the matter. His ruling relied on a TUC circular that “Trades Councils should not intervene in disputes unless they had written permission of the National Executive of the Union concerned”. Torney moved that “the president vacate the chair”, so that a debate could ensue. But Cassidy’s ruling was supported by a vote of 38 to 11. [190]
During this period, the union attempted a number of recruitment activities. Tom Torney specially spoke to the DTC in 1955 on a two week campaign of recruitment geared at private traders. This was tried again in 1962 and, while there was some success in the larger stores, it has to be said that the union’s power base still firmly remained in the Co-ops.
10        By way of an epilogue
This section on the post-war era is necessarily sketchy. Apart from anything else we are too near to parts of the tale for us to conceive of it as history. If nothing else, perhaps the inclusion of this period will encourage contemporaries of the period to write down their experiences and reminiscences. Also to preserve records by ensuring their donation to a place of public access.
Derbyshire’s proud and long record of people’s activism should insist that we do not forget the lives of all those ordinary people who went before us. History is not made up of Kings and Queens. Genealogical charts are as much use to us in understanding the complex world we live in as astrological charts when it comes to the force of history. Real life holds more truth. The great tragedy is that the story of ordinary people has to be drawn in the main from hostile sources, particularly if we are talking of pre-1945 history – or what can often be dry, bureaucratic documents.
There is a lesson there if nowhere else. Workers have learned to construct their own organisations to protect themselves. They have learned how to maintain these organisations, how to make them more effective. In difficult times they have learned that unity and organisation are not enough; clarity, a sense of purpose and comprehension is also needed.
There has always been a sparkle, a gleam, a yearning for a better and brighter future. Many have learned during the course of our history of the need for action to control or direct the powerful and wealthy.
The conclusion has often been that the need is for ordinary people to win power, not merely office for professional politicians acting remotely on their behalf. Every town and every county in our land has experienced broadly much of what Derbyshire has. How will the workers of the 21st century and beyond respond to ever more complex challenges? They will create history every day in the future. As we all do even now, today. Every day we make history, but that is another story!
1     Derbyshire Advertiser March 29th 1946
2     Derbyshire Advertiser May 31st 1946
3     Derbyshire Advertiser May 10th 1946
4     Derbyshire Advertiser January 3rd 1947
5     Derbyshire Advertiser August 27th 1948
6     Derbyshire Advertiser February 22nd 1946
7     Derbyshire Advertiser March 8th 1946; March 22nd 1946
8     Derbyshire Advertiser July 4th 1947
9     Derbyshire Advertiser June 28th 1946
10   Derbyshire Advertiser January 3rd 1947
11   Derbyshire Advertiser December 20th 1946
12   Derbyshire Advertiser November 8th 1946
13   Derby NUAW Minutes April 16th 1947
14   Derbyshire Advertiser February 11th 1949
15   Derbyshire Advertiser January 18th 1946
16   Derbyshire Advertiser October 4th 1946
17   Derbyshire Advertiser February 15th 1946
18   Derbyshire Advertiser October 31st 1947
19   Derbyshire Advertiser October 10th 1947
20   Derbyshire Advertiser January 16th 1948
21   Andy Bird – conversations with the author – 1985
22   Derbyshire Advertiser May 14th 1948
23   Derbyshire NUAW Minutes June 16th 1948
24   Derbyshire Advertiser September 17th 1948
25   Derbyshire Advertiser April 19th 1946
       D G Goldstraw “Socialism and the Labour Movement in North Derbyshire
       1929-51” M A Thesis, Sheffield (1983) p56
26   Derbyshire Advertiser May 17th 1946
27   Derbyshire Advertiser April 11th 1947
28   Information supplied by Fred Westacott
29   Labour Research, LRD, December 1978 p253
30   Derbyshire Advertiser August 13th 1948
31   Derbyshire Advertiser February 11th 1949
32   Derbyshire Advertiser June 17th 1949
33   Derbyshire Advertiser August 11th 1950
34   Derbyshire Advertiser September 15th 1950
35   Derbyshire Advertiser November 10th 1950
36   Derbyshire Advertiser December 15th 1950
        DTC minutes July 14th 1953
        Morning Star January 3rd 1985
        DTC minutes October 13th 1954; November 5th, 11th 1953; February 9th 1955
        North Midlands Federation of Trades Councils – minutes March 12th 1966
37   Derbyshire Advertiser February 10th 1950
38   J Beadle “346,159 – the story of the 14 General Election campaigns fought in
       South Derbyshire between 1918 and 1966” DLP (1968) p29
39   Derby Advertiser February 17th 1950
40   Derbyshire Advertiser September 22nd 1950
41   Derbyshire Advertiser October 20th 1950
42   Derbyshire Advertiser October 12th 1951
43   C W Guilleband “Problems of Wages Policy” in “The Worker in Industry”
       Centenary Lectures 1951, Ministry of Labour and National Service, HMSO
44   TUC Report 1952 Congress
45   Derbyshire Advertiser January 18th 1952
46   Derbyshire Advertiser February 29th 1952
47   Derbyshire Advertiser April 11th 1952
       DATUC minutes April 8th 1952
48   Derbyshire Advertiser April 25th 1952
49   Derbyshire Advertiser April 16th 1955
50   Derbyshire Advertiser May 20th 1955
51   Derbyshire Advertiser March 29th 1957
52   Circular letter dated January 1951 signed by Howell and Russell
53   Circular letter dated April 8th 1952 signed by Howell
54   Derbyshire Advertiser May 14th 1954
55   DATUC minutes June 13th 1962, DTC EC report October 7th 1954; DTC May
       10th 1961, May 13th 1964, April 11th 1956, DATUC Annual Balance Sheets
       and Statements of Accounts for various years
56   Derbyshire Advertiser March 26th 1948
57   Derbyshire Advertiser March 22nd 1968
58   Derbyshire Advertiser March 11th, 18th 1955
59   Derbyshire Advertiser February 11th 1955
60   Derbyshire Advertiser March 13th, September 11th 1959
61   Derbyshire Advertiser September 16th 1960
       DATUC minutes January 11th 1961
62   Derbyshire Advertiser May 2nd, May 9th 1952
63   Derbyshire Advertiser September 21st 1956
64   Derbyshire Advertiser December 6th 1963
65   Derbyshire Advertiser April 14th 1950, March 20th 1953
66   Morning Star January 3rd 1985 – on the release of Cabinet papers under the
       30 year rule
67   Derbyshire Advertiser January 18th 1957
68   Derbyshire Advertiser July 20th 1956
69   Derbyshire Advertiser September 13th 1957
70   L Clay – conversations with author
71   Derbyshire Advertiser October 23rd, October 30th 1959
72   Derbyshire Advertiser May 20th 1960
73   Derbyshire Advertiser February 21st 1958
74   Derbyshire Advertiser January 24th 1958
75   Jim Gardner “Key Questions for Trade Unionists” Lawrence and Wishart
       (1960) p21
76     Derbyshire Advertiser February 26th 1960
DATUC minutes June 10th 1959
77 C Bradley memo September 21st 1959; Hull-Williams correspondence 16th August 1960 and September 28th 1960
78     Derbyshire Advertiser April 13th, 20th 1962
79     Derbyshire Advertiser December 23rd 1966, July 22nd 1966
80     Derbyshire Advertiser August 12th 1966
81     Derbyshire Advertiser July 29th 1966
82     Derbyshire Advertiser September 23rd 1966
83     Derbyshire Advertiser October 14th 1966
84     Derbyshire Advertiser August 26th 1966
85     Derbyshire Advertiser November 25th 1996
86     Derbyshire Advertiser September 15th 1967
87     Derbyshire Advertiser January 27th 1967
88     Derbyshire Advertiser May 26th 1967
89     Derbyshire Advertiser September 29th 1967
90     Derbyshire Advertiser January 12th 1968
91     Derbyshire Advertiser December 20th 1968
          DLP Annual Report 1968
92     Derbyshire Advertiser March 25th 1966
93     Derbyshire Advertiser November 10th 1967
94     Derbyshire Advertiser April 2nd 1965
          Derbyshire Advertiser August 2nd 1968, February 10th 1967
95     Derbyshire Advertiser October 14th 1965
96     Derbyshire Advertiser September 8th 1967
97     Derbyshire Advertiser October 13th 1967
98     Derbyshire Advertiser April 26th 1968
99     Derbyshire Advertiser March 21st 1969
100 Jim Gardner “Key Questions for Trade- Unionists” Lawrence and Wishart (1960) p20
101 Cyril Bradley papers
102      N Cuthbert “The Lacemakers Society” The Society (1960) p202
103      Derbyshire Advertiser September 12th 1952
104      N Cuthbert “The Lacemakers Society” The Society (1960) p246
105      Derbyshire Advertiser July 10th 1953
106      Derbyshire Advertiser May 11th 1956
107      Derbyshire Advertiser March 2nd 1962
108      Derby Evening Telegraph September 22nd 1952
109      TGWU 5/234 branch minutes – inaugural meeting January 9th 1952 at the
            Crown Club, Spondon
110      TGWU 5/234 branch minutes October 7th 1952
111      TGWU 5/234 branch minutes July 7th 1953
112      TGWU 5/234 branch minutes October 13th 1953
113      TGWU 5/234 branch minutes January 18th 1954
114      TGWU 5/234 branch minutes April 26th 1954
115      TGWU 5/234 branch minutes January 25th 1955 and various dates
116     TGWU 5/234 branch minutes September 22nd 1955
117     TGWU 5/234 branch minutes December 13th 1955
118     A Marsh and V Ryan “Historical Directory of Trade Unions” Vol 4 Scolar Press (1994) p156; TGWU 5/234 branch minutes March 24th 1958
119 TGWU 5/234 branch minutes November 18th 1958March 23rd 1959
120 “Courtaulds Inside Out” CIS Anti-Report No.10 (c. 1974) p3
121 Hemsley memo dated August 31st 1962
122 Derbyshire Advertiser November 15th 1946
123 Derbyshire Advertiser December 6th 1946
124 Derbyshire Advertiser December 13th 1946
125 Derbyshire Advertiser January 17th 1947
126 Derbyshire Advertiser January 24th 1947
127 Derbyshire Advertiser June 27th 1947
128 Derbyshire Advertiser October 21st 1947
129 Derbyshire Advertiser February 25th 1949
130 Derbyshire Advertiser July 19th 1957
131 Derbyshire Advertiser July 26th 1957
132 Derbyshire Advertiser June 26th 1964
133 Derbyshire Advertiser February 12th 1965
134 Derbyshire Advertiser November 8th 1968
135 Derbyshire Advertiser March 13th, October 23rd, October 30th 1970
136 16th July 1954 letter to all workers employed at DCS Coal Dept from J Hull
137 Letter from J H Wood to J Hull dated October 1st 1958
138 J Hull letter 28th May 1959
139 Correspondence – K J Smith January 26th 1959 and J HullJanuary 28th 1959
140 Derby Evening Telegraph – various dates December 1959, January 1960
141 Letter – D J Taylor April 1963
142 Letter 2nd September 1965 D J Taylor to Joe Hull
143 Partially dated, unattributed cuttings in TGWU files.
144 TGWU quarterly report – 30th September 1955
145 TGWU file on Cox’s
146 Derbyshire Advertiser September 12th 1947
       P S Bagwell “The Railwaymen – the history of the National Union of
       Railwaymen” Vol II Allen and Unwin (1982) p75
       Derbyshire Advertiser September 20th 1968
147 Derbyshire Advertiser June 3rd, June 10th 1955
       DATUC Minutes June 8th 1955
148 Derbyshire Advertiser December 20th 1957
149 Derbyshire Advertiser August 31st 1962
150 Derbyshire Advertiser September 7th, 14th 1962
151 Derbyshire Advertiser October 5th 1962
152 Original notes of GH Perry – DATUC files
153 Derbyshire Advertiser December 16th 1949
154 V L Allen ‘The Militancy of British Miners” The Moor Press, Shipley (1981) p55
       Derbyshire Advertiser June 1st 1951
155 V L Allen “The Militancy of British Miners” The Moor Press, Shipley (1981) p119
156 Derbyshire Advertiser April 9th, August 13th 1965
157 V L Allen “The Militancy of British Miners” The Moor Press, Shipley (1981) p133
158 V L Allen ‘The Militancy of British Miners” The Moor Press, Shipley (1981) p159
159 L Clay conversations with the author
160 Derbyshire Advertiser November 20th 1953
161 Rolls Royce agreement with CSEU dated 21st May 1960
       Guardian August 25th 1960 – cutting in TGWU files
162 A Marsh and V Ryan “Historical Directory of Trade Unions” Vol 4 Scolar Press
       (1994) p347
163 Derbyshire Advertiser April 10th, July 17th 1964
164Derby Advertiser January 25th 1946, July 19th 1946
165 Derbyshire Advertiser March 18th 1960
       Derbyshire Advertiser August 16th 1963
166 Derbyshire Advertiser August 23rd 1963
167 Derbyshire Advertiser June 19th 1953
168 Derbyshire Advertiser May 10th 1946
169 Derbyshire Advertiser June 6th 1947
170 NUAW Minutes Derby Central Branch February 20th 1946 and August 20th
171 Derbyshire Advertiser December 6th 1957
172NUAWDerbyCounty Committee Minutes April 4th 1964, October 17th 1964,
       November 13th 1966
173NUAWDerbyCounty Committee Minutes March 11th 1967
174NUAWDerbyCounty Committee Minutes April 27th 1967, August 24th 1968
175NUAWDerbyCounty Committee Minutes March 7th 1970
176 Derbyshire Advertiser January 10th 1947
177 Derbyshire Advertiser August 11th 1950
178 Derbyshire Advertiser March 12th, May 14th 1954
179 Derbyshire Advertiser July 2nd 1954
180 Derbyshire Advertiser January 15th 1965
181 Derbyshire Advertiser February 11th 1966
182 Derbyshire Advertiser June 10th 1966
183 Derbyshire Advertiser August 29th 1969; September 12th 1969
184 Derbyshire Advertiser November 23rd 1951
       Derby Evening Telegraph December 12th 1951
185 DTC minutes December 16th 1951
186 Derbyshire Advertiser February 17th 1970
187 Derbyshire Advertiser August 7th 1964
188 Derbyshire Advertiser February 13th 1948
189 Derbyshire Advertiser March 26th 1948
190 Derbyshire Advertiser October 5th 1951
       Derby Trades Council minutes December 16th 1951

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