Labour History Review

'Her Heart and Soul were with The Labour Movement': Using a Local Study to Highlight the Work Of Women Organizers Employed by the Workers' Union in Britain From the First World War to 1931

Labour History Review (2005), 70, (2), 167–184.

Abstract

The experiences of the women employed by general, mixed-sex trade unions during and after the First World War have received little attention in British trade union history. This article employs a local study to focus on the work of the women organizers of the Workers' Union (WU) between 1915 and 1931 and in so doing examines both the extent and the sincerity of one union's commitment towards both its women officials and women members. In Coventry, Alice Arnold was employed as the WU women's organizer in 1917 and dismissed in 1931 after the WU had amalgamated with the Transport and General Workers' Union. Drawing on Arnold's experiences, and comparing them with those of other WU women organizers in Britain, the article asks whether there were gendered differences and inequalities in the work undertaken by WU organizers. By examining the ways in which the women organizers adapted their working practices in the post- war years, attention is focused on the difficulties faced in retaining women's trade union membership and the implications for women union organizers during the 1920s.

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Author details

Hunt, Cathy