The Air of Freedom: The Birth of New Unionism

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  • New paperback 159 pages.
  • Lawrence and Wishart 1989.
  • ISBN: 0853157103

"With the formation of the Gasworkers' Union in 1889 under Will Thorne's leadership, general workers joined a trade union in large numbers for the first time. Thorne worked with some of the most fascinating political and trade unioon figures of the period - Ben Tillett, Eleanor Marx, Tom Mann and John Burns among them - all of whom are here the subject of splended pen portraits.

Under Thorne's astute and far-sighted leadership, the forerunner of today's GMB achieved an eight-hour day for its members working in particularly dangerous gasworks of Victorian England. The union rapidly broadened out to organise general workers in a variety of industries and was one of the first to welcome women into its ranks.

This lavishly illustrated account of the birth of the New Unionism brings to life one of the most important moments in labour history through the remarkable lives of those involved."

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Author Yvonne Kapp
Author Yvonne Kapp
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