Scottish trade unions and nationalisation, 1945-1955 : a case study of the coal industry

Anderson, Ian Gareth (1999) Scottish trade unions and nationalisation, 1945-1955 : a case study of the coal industry. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis contends that the historiographical boundaries and focus of labour history, political history, of policy making and nationalisation have resulted in an incomplete understanding of trade unions attitudes towards, and influence upon, post-war British economic policy. In particular, the predominant concern of labour historians with strike patterns and their causes, particularly within the coal industry, has been at the expense of other forms of trade union activity. Whilst the more general historiography of the period and that of policy making address these issues, they do not tend to do so below the peak level organisation of the TUC and of Whitehall and Westminster. This has lead to miners unions being portrayed as a somewhat monolithic organisation predominantly concerned with disputes, strike prone with poor industrial relations, but politically conservative and generally supportive of the Labour Party and Government policy. In taking a multi-level analysis, with particular emphasis on Scotland, and examining the evidence from the NUM's interaction with Government, party, National Coal Board and the industry'S conciliation and consultative machinery, this thesis argues that a more diverse pattern of trade union attitudes and influence existed. It is suggested that the TUC had a relatively minor role to play in the development of coal nationalisation policy after 1947. Furthermore, the national level of the NUM was unable to adapt fully to its new-role under nationalisation because areas such as Scotland continued to exercise considerable power and influence. In this it is demonstrated that Scotland could take a divergent attitude to the national level of the union, particularly over wages, and ultimately meet with some success. The Scottish Area of the NUM also displayed poorer industrial relations to the national and local levels. In particular, the evidence from colliery level consultation demonstrates that there was a more positive and constructive side to local union activity within the nationalised industry than the focus on disputes hitherto suggested. Therefore, this thesis concludes that there is sufficient evidence from the experience of the NUM to suggest that a more complex and diverse pattern of trade union behaviour existed between 1945 and 1955 in the nationalised coal industry. However, this pattern is not so rooted in any Scottish cultural explanation, or contradictory to existing interpretations, as to preclude its broader applicability to other areas of the coal industry or unions in other nationalised industries.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Economic and Social History
Supervisor's Name: Rollings, Dr Neil
Date of Award: 1999
Depositing User: Adam Swann
Unique ID: glathesis:1999-8437
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2017 14:52
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2017 14:52

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