Managing industrial discontent in Britain, 1927-1930: the industrial cooperation talks and the segregation of the national unemployed workers’ movement

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Abstract

We remain without an adequate understanding of the process through which militant dissent was managed, and marginalised, during the inter-war development of British industrial relations. The industrial cooperation conferences between trade unions and business associations during the late 1920s reduced industrial conflict and reinforced the state’s strategies to avoid a crisis during the interwar years in Britain. The TUC’s involvement in the cooperation talks helped to legitimise trade unionism in the view of the state and capital. Furthermore, in joining the industrial conversations, the TUC reinforced its strategy of side-lining industrial dissident organisations, notably the National Unemployed Workers’ Movement (NUWM). Scholarship on industrial relations has inadequately grasped the relevance of the industrial cooperation talks in reducing industrial conflict and marginalising dissent during the interwar years in Britain. Using archival research and documentary analysis, this paper contributes to the literature on British industrial relations, highlighting the TUC’s attitudes against the NUWM during the late 1920s. In doing so, it advances an Open Marxist account, emphasising the role of the state in seeking to oversee smooth processes of exchange, distribution and production, which in turn has an impact upon the operation of trade unions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)742-761
Number of pages20
JournalLabor History
Volume62
Issue number5-6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Emanuel Bourges studied a BA in History and an MA in Government at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and obtained his PhD in Politics from the University of Birmingham, UK. His research focuses on political stability and governability in historical perspective and the degree to which economic necessities translate into political necessities.

Keywords

  • Cooperation Talks/NUWM/Industrial Discontent/TUC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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