Outsiders: Trade Union Responses to Polish and Italian Coal Miners in Two British Coalfields, 1945–54
This chapter focuses on two British coalfields and assesses trade union reaction to the employment of foreign labour. What emerges is a disjointed picture of trade union sectionalism, community suspicion and a clash between trade union officials who were keen to see management/union partnerships succeed and the more conservative views of the rank-and-file miner. Foreign workers were brought into the British coal industry because of a manpower crisis during the immediate postwar period. Yet at both the national and area level of the union, there was some disquiet over the introduction of foreign labour. The experience of Polish and Italian miners in North Wales points to trade union concerns about job security, but also exhibits the importance of a particular local identity in initially working to exclude outsiders from the culture of the colliery and the local community. Union concerns about job security emerged in the context of instability for the coalfield.