chapter  5
4 Pages

Trade Union Structure

These are the main types, but not all Trade Unions can be clearly assigned to one or another of them For example, is the powerful Amalgamated Engineering Union to be regarded as an industrial Union because it is open to many kinds of workers, unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled, who work in the engineering industry? On the whole, yes but it must not be forgotten that the A E U also includes large numbers of engineers or various sorts who work in other industries and are attached to it because of the crafts they practice rather than because of the industry in which they work The A E U or rather the A S E out of which it arose, when I first knew it was mainly a craft Union enrolling workers from a number of kindred crafts it has developed gradually into something more like an industrial Union through opening its ranks more effectively to the less skilled machine-minders, but it still falls a long way short of including all engineering workers Many such workers belong to separate Unions, such as the Electrical Trades Union, the Amalgamated Union of Foundry Workers, or the United Patternmakers' Association and a high proportion of the less skilled, though eligible for the A E U , are actually members of either the T and G W U or the N U G M W , and in the railway workshops the A E U competes for members with the N U R

Principles of Organisation It is tempting to suggest that, in order to avoid Unions competing for

members, one principle or another ought to be adopted as a common basis of organisation This is the case in some countries, where there exists a central Trade Union Commission with power to decide to what Union each kind of worker shall be assigned Thus, in the Soviet Union, the industrial principle is adopted so completely that every sort of person employed in an industry is assigned to the Union catering for that industry, from the top technicians and managers down to the least skilled workers But in most countries, even where the central body has much more power than in Great Britain, uniformity of structure is carried much less far, even it the industrial form of organisation is quite widely used For example, nonmanual workers are quite often organised separately from manual workers, as here the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (formerly the Railway Clerks') is separate from the N U R , and it is common to find that, whereas in some industries the workers are organised on industrial lines, in others craft Unions confined to special types of skilled workers exist side by side with these more inclusive Unions In the United States for example, where the two rival central Trade Union bodies-the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organisations-have recently joined forces, the combined body includes both craft and industrial Unions-the latter drawn mainly, but not exclusively, from the C I O and the former from the A F, of L.