Trade Unions and the Relations of Capital and Labour

  • R. D. Collison Black


Trade Unions, some think, are a new thing and a rising danger, but they are quite as old as England, and appear at least 1,000 years ago, even supposing that one does not go back to the Saxon guilds. A kind of union or co-operation is innate in Saxon nature, and in the Saxon times there were various kinds of guilds, peace guilds for religious and social purposes, and then again trade guilds. But there were early associations of foreign traders, especially those connected with Flanders, and one union of this sort long had a place called the Steelyard, which existed for centuries [Ethelred II].1 These social and religious guilds more resembled the present friendly and benefit societies. They were distinctly recognised in the Saxon laws. But a kind of trade union which is more closely the same as those now existing was that of the Free Masons, which is also remarkable as existing now. The freemasons themselves date their existence from a very remote period — almost any time this side of the deluge if not before — but they really do, I believe, claim existence for something like 1,000 years.


Trade Union Benefit Society Friendly Society Assurance Society Remote Period 
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Copyright information

© R. D. Collison Black and Rosamond Könekamp 1977

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  • R. D. Collison Black

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