Two hundred years since the Combination Acts: the fate of the trade union ordinance in Singapore

Leggett, Chris (2000) Two hundred years since the Combination Acts: the fate of the trade union ordinance in Singapore. In: Proceedings of the Third European Social Science History Conference. pp. 1-13. From: Third European Social Science History Conference, 12-15 April 2000, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

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[Extract] Fear by the propertied of the possibility of organised rebellion by the working classes inspired by the revolutionary spirit of France was the principle reason for the passing of the Combination Acts of 1799 and 1800 in Britain. There had been statutory regulation of employment relations in Britain before 1799, including combination acts for single trades, but the Combination Acts were the first statutory provisions to deal directly with the institution of trade unionism, albeit to suppress it. Although the Combination Acts were repealed in 1824-1825, trade unions did not gain a formal legality until the passing of the Trade Union Act 1871. Bills enacted in 1906, 1913 and 1927 completed the legislation - both protective and restrictive - that was in place when the British Colonial Office stepped up its encouragement of trade union ordinances in the territories for which it was responsible.

Kerr et al. (1960) hypothesised from their 1950s worldwide studies that industrialising countries would become more like each other. An inherent logic of industrialism would lead them to converge on a future of pluralistic industrialism. In the meantime, diversity could be explained, as well as by culture and the stage reached in the industrialization process, by the different ideologies of the industrializing elites. One class of industrialising elites was that of 'colonial administrators', another was 'revolutionary intellectuals', and another 'nationalist leaders'. Dore (1973), following his study of technologically similar manufacturing companies in Britain and Japan, modified the convergence thesis by suggesting that Japan had leapfrogged pluralistic industrialism and was itself the model for others' industrial futures. By being a 'late' developer Japan had more effectively than elsewhere adapted through 'welfare corporatism' the modern bureaucratic equivalent of paternalism. Regular Japanese employees enjoyed lifetime employment, age-based promotion and seniority wages. While these practices can be a source of rigidity (Dore, 1986) they encourage the incorporation of employees into the enterprise culture and result in strong employee commitment. It has been contended that these practices are a 'highly rational and effective means for inducing worker identification with the enterprise and for creating a highly skilled and pliable core of employees adaptable to rapid technological and organisational change' (Moore, 1987, page 143).

Item ID: 17142
Item Type: Conference Item (Non-Refereed Research Paper)
Keywords: combination laws, trade union act, UK, Singapore
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2012 05:19
FoR Codes: 15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1503 Business and Management > 150306 Industrial Relations @ 100%
SEO Codes: 91 ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK > 9104 Management and Productivity > 910401 Industrial Relations @ 100%
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