Annual report of BUIRA History of IR Study Group



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


  • Our first seminar was ‘I’m part of the union’: what really happened at Ford Dagenham (17 March 2015) at the University of Westminster. Jonathan Moss (Research Officer, University of Southampton) is opening with a talk entitled ‘We didn’t realise how brave we were at the time’: the 1968 Ford sewing machinists’ strike in public and personal memory, followed by Sheila Cohen (researcher and writer) on Ford workers’ stories: the dialectic of spontaneity and activism.


  • Our second seminar was New Public Management in Historical Perspective (7 May 2015), also at the University of Westminster, with Whyeda Gill-McLure (University of Wolverhampton) speaking on The Politics of Managerial Reform in UK Local Government: A Study of Control, Conflict and Resistance 1880s to the Present, followed by Peter Prowse (University of Bradford) on The End of Consultation and Engagement? Whitleyism in the UK Civil Service.


  • 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 16 May 2015, from 10.30 to 5.00pm. Thirty people attended. This year we focused on oral history in blacklisting, trade union education and women factory workers in Wales. 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 address was given by Judy Mallaber, former Labour MP and NUPE official, who spoke on The Value of Oral History for Trade Unions. Michael Gold chaired the round table and, after lunch, Dave Smith (Blacklisting support group) and Ian Bradders (Unite) gave a talk on Trade Union Activity: the Example of Blacklisting. Ruth Percy (Ruskin College) and Jonathan Jeffries (CONEL) followed with a discussion on Trade Union Education. Rosemary Scadden (Women’s Archive of Wales) led the final session on Voices from the Factory Floor, a project covering over 200 transcripts of interviews with women (and some men) who worked in the manufacturing industries in Wales between 1945 and 1975.


Conclusions for the day were rounded off by a showing of an Irish documentary on cross transnational social dumping practices by the company Atlanco Rimec. The day closed at 5.00pm.


Michael Gold

Linda Clarke

11 June 2015