Labour History Review

Mutualism, Friendly Societies, and the Genesis of Railway Trade Unions

Labour History Review (2002), 67, (3), 263–279.

Abstract

‘Mutualism, Friendly Societies, and The Genesis of Railway Trade Unions’ proposes a revised view of the origins of trade unions to account for their friendly society-like inception. Taking as its subject the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants (ASRS), it demonstrates how railway company friendly societies established a model which the ASRS followed. Based on railway company documents and records of the trade union, the article shows how the institutional structure and mutualist ideology of the friendly societies shaped the union in the 1870s, its first decade. The wider significance of this article is its exposition of the theory of mutualism to explain periods of relative calm in labour relations and its call for further research into the history of friendly societies and labour relations.

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Cordery, Simon