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TRADE UNIONS AND THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

Despite this apparent illegality, many trade associations continued to thrive; operating within the confines of the law by stressing their friendly society rather than their industrial purposes.9 An important factor in their development during the latter part of the 18th century was the response by skilled workers to the changing economic conditions. As the control economy of the 17th and early 18th centuries, based on the strict regulation of the economy and on the domestic system of production, was discredited by the new ideas of economic laissez-faire,10 wage fixing declined and lapsed into disuse, eventually being formally discontinued in 1813.11 This breakdown of wage fixing, combined with the disintegration of the gild system, meant that skilled workers, when they were dissatisfied with their wages, increasingly directed their demands for redress to employers rather than relying on the system of petitioning Parliament or JPs.