The railway unions meeting in the Grand HAll with speech by Richard Bell who was an MP and leader of the TUC
Subject: Battersea Town Hall - History, Trade Unions, Railways
Collection: /8 History
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The railway unions meeting in the Grand HAll with speech by Richard Bell who was an MP and leader of the TUC (Trades Union Congress).
Richard Bell was General Secretary of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants 1883 - 1909.
In 1876 Bell entered the employment of the Great Western Railway (GWR) company and was stationed at Pontypool Road, working his way up through the portering grades , where he joined the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants - railway union . In 1886 he was transferred to Swansea and became an under guard, and there, finding no union activities, he established a branch of the A.S.R.S. in 1887. An unofficial strike on the North Eastern Railway early in 1897 provided the occasion of Bell's promotion general secretary on a pro tem basis.
In 1899 a resolution was carried at the ASRS national conference calling for the establishment of a Labour Representation Conference in February 1900, this resolution being moved by James Holmes, the West of England organising for the ASRS.
Two episodes of outstanding importance occurred during Richard Bell's tenure of office at the ASRS. The first was the Taff Vale dispute in 1900 , when, because of an unofficial strike among railway workers, the company sued the union and obtained £23,000 damages; this led to a change in trade union law.
The second was the famous Osborne case, when a branch secretary of the union queried the validity of its rules regarding the political levy. The case was finally taken to the House of Lords and decided against the union. The consequence was the 1913 Act , which permitted unions to levy a political toll on their members.
“The railway unions meeting in the Grand HAll with speech by Richard Bell who was an MP and leader of the TUC,” Battersea Arts Centre Digital Archive, accessed January 25, 2021, http://www.bacarchive.org.uk/items/show/12.
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