The Fifth Estate: Britain's Unions in the Seventies, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Fifth Estate

Britain's Unions in the Seventies, 1st Edition

By Robert Taylor


382 pages

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First published in 1978. Britain’s unions were blamed by many people for the country’s post-war economic decline. Portrayed as greedy wreckers who wanted to run the country, they had become scapegoats for the state of the nation. This anatomy of Britain’s diverse and complex trade union movement sets out to question that widespread opinion.

The main argument advanced in the study is that unions in Britain were too weak, not too strong. From the 1940s until the 1970s, Robert Taylor believes, they had failed to achieve the constructive influence over British society that union movements elsewhere in western Europe had managed to gain. Considering the major and medium-sized unions separately, he examines the sudden and rapid growth of unionisation in Britain, the structure of the unions, their effectiveness, the influence they had, their international record, and the nature of trade union democracy.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; Preface; Abbreviations; Part One: Profile of the Movement; 1. The Growth of the Unions 2. The TUC – Carthorse of Great Russell Street 3. The Politics of the Unions 4. The Influence of the Unions 5. How Democratic are the Unions? 6. The Challenge from Below 7. Workers of the World Unite 8. How Effective are the Unions?; Part Two: Varieties of Unionism; 9. One Industrial Union 10. All Men are Brethren 11. The Loyal Brothers 12. The New Public Sector Giants 13. The Miners’ Revival 14. White-collar Rivals 15. The Hammer of the Left 16. The Weaker Brethren 17. Industrial Unions on the Defensive 18. Public Service Malaise 19. The Fleet Street Follies 20. All Kinds of Everything; Select Bibliography; Postscript: The Significance of Grunwick; Appendix: The Wage Round: Prescription for Chaos?; Index

About the Series

Routledge Library Editions: The Labour Movement

This set of 44 volumes, originally published between 1924 and 1995, amalgamates a wide breadth of research on the Labour Movement, including labour union history, the early stages and development of the Labour Party, and studies on the working classes. This collection of books from some of the leading scholars in the field provides a comprehensive overview of the subject, how it has evolved over time, and will be of particular interest to students of political history.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General