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The New Model Trade Unions, 1851 onwards

These epitomised the new form of trade union. The first one was the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, formed in 1851. Other N.M.T.U.s followed its pattern.


  1. they were single craft unions: for example, the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters.
  2. they were respectable because they were for skilled workers who were aware of their scarcity value. They had a policy of avoiding strike action and belligerence. They attempted to be strong only in argument and used arbitration to settle disputes.
  3. they each had a permanent, paid, full-time secretary. Men like William Allen (Amalgamated Society of Engineers) and Robert Applegarth (Amalgamated Society of Carpenters) became national figures. The unions' headquarters in London gave the secretaries access to parliament.
  4. the unions charged high subscriptions. The ASE's subscriptions were 1/- per week and were sufficiently high to keep out the riff-raff and to build up funds
  5. the secretaries of the new unions met regularly to share problems, give mutual support and to co-operate with each other. They became known as the Junta and their meetings led to the creation of the Trades Union Congress in 1868
  6. the unions were highly centralised and the branches had much uniformity

N.B. by the 1850s, Marxist/Engels' socialism was beginning - an idea which may be traced back to Robert Owen.

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Last modified 4 March, 2016

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