Annual report of BUIRA History of IR Study Group



The BUIRA History of IR Study Group held three meetings this year, all well attended.


1) The first was a seminar entitled Collective Bargaining in the UK: Contrasting Fortunes in the Post-war Engineering Industry, held from 5.00-6.30pm on 12 December 2013 at the University of Westminster Business School, 35 Marylebone Road, London. We heard two papers, the first being Simon Joyce (University of Hertfordshire) on The Engineering Employers’ Federation and the crisis of 1989: a case study in the decline of multi-employer bargaining. Linda Clarke (University of Westminster) followed with The survival of collective agreements in post-war Britain: the puzzling example of NAECI. There was then a general discussion amongst the 25 people present.


2) Our second event, organised and financed jointly with History and Policy’s Trade Union Forum, was a day-long conference on The Miner’s Strike: 30 Years On. It took place on 29 March 2014 at King’s College London, the Strand, and was chaired by John Edmonds (former general secretary of GMB).


Leading figures at the time, historians and legal scholars reflected on the causes, course and consequences of the strike for unions, the state and the law in Britain today. It was recorded to create an oral archive. Speakers included (from the NUM) Ian Lavery MP, Terry Thomas and Nicky Wilson; former Labour leader Lord Kinnock; former TUC General Secretary Lord Monks; journalists Nick Jones and Robert Taylor; and academics and historians, Peter Ackers (Loughborough), Lucy Delap KCL), Keith Ewing (KCL), Michael Gold (RHUL), David Howell (York) and Alastair Reid (Cambridge). Around 100 people attended for all or part of the day.


3) Our third event, which was jointly sponsored by BUIRA, Britain at Work and the Oral History Society, was an Oral Labour History Day held at the Bishopsgate Institute on Saturday 17 May 2014, from 10.30 to 5.00pm. Twenty five people attended. Our main theme was occupations and social protest in the UK. The day included round table introductions on the projects in which participants were involved and their interest in oral labour history.


Following an introduction by Michael Gold and Stefan Dickers (Bishopsgate Institute), the opening presentation was given by Anna Davin (founding member of the History Workshop Journal editorial collective) on Historians, Work and Memory. Michael Gold chaired the round table and, after lunch, Andy Clark (University of Strathclyde) spoke on “I often thought they were in wi’ the management behind wur backs”: female factory occupations and the labour movement in early 1980s Scotland. Alan Tuckman (one of the founders of followed with a talk on The work-in at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital: mobilising resistance to NHS restructuring. Ian Sinclair (author of The March that Shook Blair) led the final session on The unknown achievements of the 15 February 2003 anti-Iraq war march, with particular reference to the role of the trade unions. Conclusions for the day were rounded off by a showing of a film about the work-in at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital.



Michael Gold/ Linda Clarke


11 June 2014