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Extra info for A History of British Trade Unionism, 1700-1998
It could not survive the outcry against Sheffield unions which followed attacks on non-unionists in 1866. The Junta The Friendly Societies Act of 1855 had provided the means by which some trade unions with extensive friendly benefits and large funds could take action against officers who were 85198c02 41 10/13/98, 9:10 AM 42 A History of British Trade Unionism, 1700–1998 defrauding them, by a quick summary proceedings before two JPs. It was put to the test in January 1866 in Bradford when the Leeds branch of the United Order of Boilermakers and Iron Shipbuilders took action against its treasurer, Close, for embezzling funds.
The much more successful models of stability were the friendly societies, where workers subscribed for future benefits and where failure to pay dues would result in loss of savings. Those organisations which managed to combine friendlysociety benefits and industrial activities were the survivors. It was this pattern which the ASE incorporated into its organisation, drawing on elements from its constituent bodies. For 1s (5p) weekly due a member was eligible for up to 10s (50p) per week unemployment benefit for 26 weeks and 7s (35p) for a further twelve weeks; 10s (50p) a week for up to six months’ sickness benefit; a lump sum of £100 on permanent disablement; £12 funeral allowance; and when unemployment was particularly high, up to £6 emigration assistance.
It was seen as an inevitable prelude to a general wage reduction. In resisting women, men’s unions were able to play on Victorian perceptions of the centrality of the family. 27 There had always been attempts by less skilled workers to organise unions. In most cases such attempts were short-lived. The obstacles to their success were great: the casual nature of much of the work; the ease with which new workers could be trained to a particular task; the pressure on jobs from displaced rural workers; the lack of education and organising skill; the low level of earnings.