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The Mond-Turner Talks, 1927–1933: A Study in Industrial Co-operation

  • G. W. McDonald (a1) and Howard F. Gospel (a2)

Extract

There has been no full study of the Mond-Turner talks and the subsequent conferences between the Trades Union Congress, die National Confederation of Employers’ Organizations (NCEO) and die Federation of British Industries (FBI). This is largely because until recendy die relevant archives and paper collections have not been open for research. From the official government papers, the archives of the Confederation of British Industries and some TUC material, it is now possible for die first time to present a detailed study of diis series of talks, important as a major attempt at industrial co-operation at national level.

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References

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* Abbreviations used in the notes.

B.P.: Baldwin Papers.

C.P./B.M.: Cecil of Chelwood Papers in the British Museum.

CAB.58/9: Cabinet, Committee of Civil Research Papers.

EAENF: Engineering and Allied Employers’ National Federation Papers.

FBI: Federation of British Industries Papers.

LAB.: Ministry of Labour Files.

NCEO: National Confederation of Employers’ Organizations Papers.

S.M.P.: Steel-Maitland Papers.

TUC/GC: Trades Union Congress, General Council Papers.

W.P.: Weir Papers.

1 The fullest contemporary account is that in Cassirer, Reinhold, Die Beziehungen zwischen Kapital und Arbeit in England: Die Mond-Turner-Konferenz 1928–1930, Heidelberger Studien aus dem Institut für Sozial-und Staatswissenschaften, Band III, Heft 3 (Heidelberg, 1933). This inevitably suffers from lack of historical perspective and access to documents.

2 Allen, V. L., ‘The Re-organization of the Trades Union Congress 1918–1927’, British Journal of Sociology, XI (1960), 2444.

3 Stanley Baldwin, 181 H.C.Deb., 5 ser., cols. 836–40.

4 For a theoretical analysis, see Shister, J., ‘Union-Management Cooperation: An Analysis’, in Lester, R. A. and Shister, J. (eds.), Insights into Labour Issues (New York, 1948), and Slichter, S. H., Healy, J. J. and Livernash, E. R., The Impact of Collective Bargaining on Management (Washington D.C., 1960), pp. 841–78. Both studies stress the importance of competitive pressures, the fear of loss of business and jobs, and the need to reduce unit labour costs.

5 Macrosty, H. W., The Trust Movement in British Industry (London, 1907), pp. 7981.

6 For details of the National Industrial Conference, see Johnson, P. B., Land Fit for Heroes: The Planning of British Reconstruction 1916–1919 (Chicago, 1968), pp. 376–8 and 473–7, and Allen, V. L., The Sociology of Industrial Relations (London, 1971), pp. 8390.

7 CAB.58/9, C.R.(H)2, Iron and Steel Trades Confederation, Memoranda Supplementary to Evidence submitted to the Committee on Industry and Trade relating to a National Joint Industrial Council, 4 Feb. 1925, p. 55.

8 For some discussion of what might be considered favourable factors, see Shister, Union-Management Cooperation.

9 Moggridge, D. E., British Monetary Policy, 1924–1931 (Cambridge, 1972), Table 6, p. 114.

10 Mitchell, B. and Deane, P., Abstract of British Historical Statistics (Cambridge, 1962), Table: Overseas Trade 8B.

11 Ibid. Table: Wages and the Standard of Living IC.

12 Ibid. Table: Labour Force 9B.

13 B.P., vol. II, Steel-Maitland, Memorandum on the Industrial Situation and its bearing on Trade Union Legislation, 11 October 1926, pp. 49–55.

14 C.P./B.M./MS 51098, Steel-Maitland, Memo., 7 October 1926, pp. 124–5.

15 Ibid. p. 124.

16 Steel-Maitland, Memo., 11 October 1926, p. 50.

17 Steel-Maitland, Memo., 7 October 1926, p. 124.

18 Steel-Maitland, Memo., 11 October 1926, p. 50.

19 Ibid. pp. 50–2.

20 Ibid. pp. 53–4.

21 Bullock, A., Life and Times of Ernest Bevin (London, 1960), 1, 355–6.

22 Steel-Maitland, Memo., 7 October 1926, p. 126.

23 Bullock, , Bevin, 1, 392.

24 Steel-Maidand, Memo., 11 October 1926, p. 53.

25 C.P./B.M./MS 51071, Steel-Maidand to Lord Robert Cecil, 9 May 1927, p. 136.

26 W.P. 4/14, Steel-Maidand, Memo., 10 December 1926, pp. 4–5.

27 W.P. 4/14, Steel-Maidand to Weir, December 1926.

28 Steel-Maidand, Memo., 10 December 1926, p. 1.

29 Lord Weir, 65 H.L. Deb., 5 ser., col. 91. Reprinted as a pamphlet.

30 Here Weir was probably referring to his own experience of trade union resistance to new techniques. In his own engineering works in Glasgow shop stewards had frustrated an attempt to change the production process and the wage payment system. In 1925 and 1926 Weir's attempt to mass-produce steel houses had been firmly resisted by the building unions.

31 Lord Weir, 65 H.L. Deb., 5 ser., col. 91. Reprinted as a pamphlet.

32 NCEO/C.66/1, Weir to Sir Max Muspratt, 16 February 1927.

33 NCEO/A.G.M. Minutes, NCEO Annual General Meeting, 18 April 1928, pp. 2–4.

34 NCEO/G.P.C. Minutes, General Purposes Committee Meeting, 11 July 1928, Weir, p. 2.

35 e.g. his speech at Birmingham, 29 March 1927. In S.M.P./G.D./193/107/1, Press Clippings, Ministry of Labour.

36 Middlemas, K. and Barnes, J., Baldwin: A Biography (London, 1969), p. 445.

37 Bullock, , Bevin, 1, 392.

38 NCEO/C.66/1, Weir to Muspratt, 16 February 1927.

39 B.P., vol. II, Steel-Maitland to Baldwin, 24 March 1927, p. 27.

40 Bullock, , Bevin, 1, 392.

41 B.P., vol. II, Steel-Maitland, Memo., n.d., pp. 55–65.

42 NCEO/C.66/1, NCEO Circular letter, 16 September 1927, Baldwin's Speech.

43 Mitchell and Deane, Historical Statistics, Table: Labour Force 6.

44 T.U.C. Industrial Review, vol. 1, no. 12, 12 1927, p. 1.

45 e.g. the British Engineers’ Association served the technical and trade side while the Engineering and Allied Employers’ National Federation served the labour side.

46 This in particular was the aim of Walter Citrine. See his Men and Work (London, 1964), p. 229.

47 FBI/Labour 330/K2(A), Lord Gainford to Sir Alfred Mond, 23 November 1927.

48 T.U.C. Industrial Conference Report(1928),Clynes, pp. 51–3.

49 LAB./10/5, Trades Unions: Report on Progress, Chief Conciliation Officer, N.W. Area, Report, p. 2.

50 T.U.C. Industrial Conference Report(1928),Hicks, pp. 45–50.

53 NCEO/C.66/I, NCEO Circular letter, 16 September 1927, Bevin's and Thomas's speeches.

54 TUC General Council Report to Congress, 1927, s. 47, p. 112.

55 T.U.C. Industrial Conference Report(1928), Citrine to A. H. Smethurst (General Secretary, AEU) 13 January 1928.

56 NCEO/C.66/1, Sir John Forbes-Watson to Sir David Milne-Watson, 23 September 1927.

57 EAENF/Miscellaneous Parcel No. 29, Memo, entitled Industrial Peace.

58 NCEO/C.66/1, NCEO Circular letter, 19 October 1927.

59 LAB. 27/5, Coal Mining Industry, Press Clippings 1925–9, The Times, 30 November 1926, R. A. Hadfield's letter.

60 LAB. 27/6, Sir Hugo Hirst, Memo, on Coal Reorganization, February 1926.

61 NCEO/C.590, Weir's Presidential Address to the Society of British Gas Industries, 29 May 1924.

62 NCEO/C.66/3 /C.66/2, Notes on Discussion, General Purposes Committee, 11 July 1928, Weir, p. 2.

64 NCEO/C.66/7, Minutes of General Purposes Committee, 8 February 1929, Henry Mond, pp. 2–3.

65 NCEO/C.66/2, Notes on Discussion, G.P.C., 11 July 1928, Milne-Watson, p. 9.

66 The Times, 29 December 1930, Obituary Lord Melchett. (Mond was created Lord Melchett in 1928. In the article, Mond's surname has been used throughout.)

67 Boothby, Lord, My Yesterday, Your Tomorrow (London, 1962), p. 31.

68 For this amendment see Standing Committee D. (29 June 1926), col. 1908; and for Mond's views, ibid. cols. 1936–9.

69 NCEO/C.66/3 ‘The Rationalization of Industry', 9 November 1928, pp. 1–19.

70 EAENF/Parcel 29, Memo, on Industrial Peace, pp. 1–2, 4–8.

73 Ibid. This was the view of some at the EAENF.

74 FBI 330/K.2(A), pt. 3, Memo. on Mond-Turner Talks by ‘A Lancashire M.P.’ (probably Austin Hopkinson, a strong critic of trusts who had fought Mond's coal amendment in 1926, on behalf of the coal owners.)

75 EAENF/Parcel 29, Notes on Employers’ Meeting, 5 January 1928.

76 FBI 330/K.2(A), Sir Roland Nugent to Gainford, 21 November 1927.

77 They were: Lord Aberconway, Sir Alan Anderson, Lord Ashfield, Sir Herbert Austin, Sir Arthur Balfour, Bernhard Baron, H. F. C. Bond, Lord Buckland, Lord Colwyn, Lord Churchill, S. Courtauld, d'Arcy Cooper, Col. David Davies, Sir Arthur Dor man, Lord Gainford, Sir Eric Geddcs, Sir Robert Hadfield, Sir Hugo Hirst, A. E. Humphries, Kenneth Lee, Sir Frederick Lewis, Sir James Lithgow, Cecil Lubbock, Lord Londonderry, M. Mannaberg, Sir David Milne-Watson, Sir Frederick Mills, W. R. Morris, Sir W. Peter Rylands, Sir Josiah Stamp, Alfred Salmon, Sir Sydney Skinner, F. A. Szarvazy, Gilbert C. Vyle, Lord Weir, Sir R. L. Wedgwood, Lt. Col. F. V. Willey, Lt. Col. Sir Gilbert A. H. Wills. In appended list to Sir Alfred Mond's proposed draft letter to the TUC General Council, FBI 330/K2(A).

78 For a detailed analysis of the industrial background of the participants see Gospel, H., forth-coming Ph.D. thesis ‘The Role and Function of Employers’ Associations in the British System of Industrial Relations, 1918–1939', London School of Economics.

79 FBI 330/K2(A) pt. 1, Nugent to Gainford, 21 November 1927.

80 EAENF Parcel 29, Memo, on Industrial Peace, pp. 7–9.

81 NCEO/C.66/1, Telegram, Wedgwood to Mond, 21 November 1927.

82 NCEO/C.66/1, Telegram, Milne-Watson to Lithgow, 21 November 1927.

83 Bullock, , Bevin, I, 392.

84 NCEO/Gcneral Meeting Minutes, 7 April 1922 to March 1967, A.G.M. 18 April 1928, Weir, p.3.

85 T.U.C. Industrial Conference Report(1928), Mond to TUC, 23 November 1927, pp. 16–7.

86 TUC/G.C./1927–8/7 & 8, min. 89.

87 Interim Joint Report adopted by the Full Joint Conferenceon 4 July 1928, pp. 21–2.

88 T.U.C. Industrial Conference Report(1928), p. 68.

89 NCEO/C.66/1, notes on Discussions of General Purposes Committee, 11 July 1928, pp. 2–3 and 9–10.

90 Interim Joint Report, p. 22.

91 Interim Joint Report, p. 23, and NCEO/C.66/1. Summary of statement by Lord Melchett to A.G.M. of the Chemical and Allied Employers' Federation, 5 December 1928, p. 8.

92 Interim Joint Report, p. 25.

93 Ibid. p. 20.

94 TUC/G.C./1927–8/7 & 8, min. 89, and 11, min. 51.

95 T.U.C. Industrial Conference Report(1928),Brownlie, (AEU), p. 36.

96 TUC/G.C./1927–8/17, min. 229.

9 T T.U.C. Industrial Conference Report(1928), p. 50.

98 Ibid. p. 49.

99 TUC/G.C./1927–8/19, min. 253.

100 T.U.C. Industrial Conference Report(1928), p. 50.

101 Cook, A. J., The Mond Moonshine (London, 1928), pp. 7 and 1011.

102 T.U.C. Industrial Conference Report(1928), p. 57.

103 Ibid. p. 55.

104 Ibid. p. 57.

105 Cook, , Mond Moonshine, pp. 1016.

106 NCEO/C.66/1, Summary of Discussion at Federation of Master Printers and Allied Traders Annual Meeting, 9 October, 1928, Hazell, p. 2.

107 NCEO/C.66/1, Lists of Mond Group.

108 NCEO/C.66/3, Supplementary Minutes of Council Meeting of Federation of Master Printers, 10 July 1928, p. 2.

109 NCEO/C.66/1, Minutes of NCEO Council, 11 July, 1928 and FBI Grand Council, 11 July 1928.

110 FBI 330/K2(A), Nugent to Col. Armstrong, 10 July 1928.

111 NCEO/C.66/1, Joint Meeting between representatives of NCEO and FBI, 31 July 1928, Col. Armstrong.

112 NCEO/C.66/2, Lewis-Jones to Forbes-Watson, 15 October 1928. The South Wales Siemens Steel Association and the Tinplate Association refused to recognize unions.

113 NCEO/C.66/2, Notes on the Mond-Turner Conference, 5 September 1928, p. 4.

114 NCEO/C.66/1, Draft Report of the Special Committee appointed to consider the invitation to the Federation to participate in the proposed NJIC, undated, p. 2.

115 NCEO/C.66/1, Shorthand Notes of Meeting between representatives of NCEO and FBI, 17 October 1928, Nugent, p. 4.

116 NCEO/C.66/7, British Engineers' Association, Objections to the Report, undated.

117 NCEO/C.66/5, The National Federation of Clay Industries, 12 December 1928, p. 2.

118 NCEO/C.66/1, General Purposes Committee, 4 July 1928, Lt. Col. Rivers-Fletcher, p. 8.

119 FBI 330/K2(A), Statement of the views of the National Association of Coke and Bye Product Plant Owners, September, 1928, pp. 6–8.

120 NCEO/C.66/1, Wool (and Allied) Textile Employers' Council, An Examination of the Interim Joint Report of the Conference on Industrial Reorganization and Industrial Relations, 10 December 1928, p. 8.

121 FBI 330/K2(A), D. A. Bremner to D. L. Walker (FBI), 3 October 1928.

122 NCEO/C.66/5, Shipping Federation Ltd., Memo., 7 December 1928, p. 19.

123 NCEO/C.66/1, Special Meeting of the G.P.C., undated, Sir Archibald Ross, p. 2.

124 NCEO/C.66/7, Lithgow to Forbes-Watson, 4 February 1929.

125 NCEO/C.66/1, General Purposes Committee Report, 11 July 1928, Weir and Milne-Watson, pp. 2–3, and 9.

126 NCEO/C.66/3 /C.66/7, NCEO Council, 13 February 1929, Milne-Watson, p. 10.

128 FBI 330/K2(A), Notes on the Mond-Turner Conferences, September 1928, p. 2.

130 FBI 330/K2(A), Nugent to Lennox Lee, 4 October 1928.

130 NCEO/C.66/3 & 4, Notes of Meeting between NCEO and FBI, 17 October 1928, Col. Armstrong, p. 5.

131 FBI 330/K2(A), Nugent to Vernon Willey, 1 November 1928.

132 FBI 330/K2(A), Evan Williams to Nugent, 13 October 1928.

133 EAENF/Parcel 29, Memo, of interview with W. F. Leggett (Ministry of Labour official), 1 June 1928. This was the view expressed here.

134 NCEO/C.66/6, Forbes-Watson to H. M. Piper, 1 January 1929. Weir tried to arrange a dinner for Melchett to address, but the NCEO majority refused.

135 NCEO/C.66/6, Meeting of General Purposes Committee, 8 February 1929, pp. 1–19.

136 Ibid. pp. 19–21.

137 Ibid. pp. 21.

138 NCEO/C.66/7, NCEO and FBI to TUC, 13 February 1929.

139 NCEO/C.66/8, Notes written by Sir Ernest Moir on his interview with Lord Melchett at his house, 11 March 1929, Lord Ebbisham being present and Mr Conway Barnes, p. 1.

140 NCEO/C.66/7, Joint Meeting between FBI Committee, and NCEO Committee, 28 February 1929, Sir William Larke, p. 2.

141 NCEO/C.66/8, Moir to Forbes-Watson, 11 March 1929.

142 NCEO/C.66/I0, Minutes of Joint Committee, 19 November 1929.

143 NCEO/C.66/10, Joint Conference, 19 December 1929, and press release of that conference. The list of topics were: Unemployment, Industry and Finance, Taxation of Industry, Social Services Co-ordination by Departments, Inter-Empire Trade, International Trade, Trade Facilities, Insurance and Export Credits, General International Labour Questions, Industrial and Commercial Statistics.

144 FBI 330/K2(A), pt. 2, Meeting of FBI Committee, on Finance and Industry, 14 May 1930, pp. 7–8.

145 FBI 330/K2(A), pt. 2, Nugent to Citrine, 14 February 1930.

146 The Times, 26 August 1930, TUC General Council Minutes of TUC Economic Committee.

147 FBI 330/K2(A), pt. 4, TUC General Council Minutes of Joint Meeting of Economic Committee with FBI Committee, 16 July 1930. Memo. Commonwealth Trade, Economic Secretariat, etc. 24 September 1930. In the 1933 Joint FBI TUC statement to the Government a clause was inserted opposing any further price reductions.

148 FBI 330/W.28, Meeting of Allocation Committee, 19 July 1933.

149 FBI 330/K2(A), pt. 4, Joint Meeting between representatives of the TUC General Council and FBI, 22 November 1932.

150 NCEO/C.530, pt. 2, TUC to Forbes-Watson, 30 May 1930.

151 Daily Herald, 5 November 1930.

152 NCEO/C.530, pt. 1, Notes of Meeting with TUC, 4 November 1930.

153 NCEO/C.530, pt. 1, EAENF to NCEO, 1 September 1930.

154 EAENF Special Management Board Meetings, 9 March 1933, min. 55/1933, and 11 April, 1933, min. 72.

155 Citrine, , Men and Work, p. 208.

156 Ibid. pp. 87 and 251.

157 NCEO/C.66/10, Meeting of Sub-Committee of the NCEO, FBI and TUC, 19 November 1929, Citrine, p. 25.

158 C.P./B.M./MS 51166, Melchett to Lord Robert Cecil, 11 December 1929, pp. 68–9.

159 Conference on Industrial Reorganization and Industrial Relations, Interim Joint Report on Unemployment adopted by Full Joint Conference,12 March 1929.

160 One notable exception was the Flour Milling Industry where the employers' organization (led by A. E. Humphries, a leading participant in the Mond-Turner Talks) and the trade union (led by Bevin), co-operated in rationalization and easing the problems of displacement. See NJIC for the Flour Milling Industry, Tenth Annual Report, 1928-1929, pp. 822.

161 Mitchell and Deane, Historical Statistics, Miscellaneous Production Statistics 15; Labour Force 4; Wages and Standard of Living ID.

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