BUIRA History of Industrial Relations Study Group


Annual Report 2019/20


We managed two seminars this year for the History of IR Study Group, the second squeezed in just before the national Covid-19 lockdown. Both were, as ever, well attended with participants making stimulating contributions.


On 12 November 2019 our seminar focused on Labour Unrest pre-First World War: Germany and the UK Compared. Ralph Darlington spoke on The Pre-First World War Labour Unrest and Women’s Suffrage Revolt: Never the Twain Shall Meet? in which he provided an assessment of the interconnections between the women’s and labour movements in this defining period of British history. Joern Janssen followed with a talk on The 1910 Eight-week Lockout in the German Construction Industry: a Victory of Labour against Private Property, which analysed the greatest industrial confrontation in German history, consolidating a new stage in labour-property relations.


On 6 March 2020 we marked the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the International Labour Organisation with a seminar on Assessing the ILO and its History. Marcel van der Linden spoke on The ILO: A Critical Appraisal after One Hundred Years, from which he concluded that either the ILO manages to promote labour standards more forcefully as a supranational authority or it will increasingly be reduced to a service for information and advice. Rebecca Gumbrell-McCormick then gave a presentation on The ILO and the International Labour Movement in which she examined the relationship between the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and its associated bodies and the ILO itself. Damian Grimshaw provided concluding comments based on his own experience at the ILO.


We remain grateful to the University of Westminster for providing the venue as well as drinks and nibbles after these events.


Further seminars were stymied by the pandemic, but we hope to continue with on-line seminars into 2020/21. Indeed, you are welcome to join us for our next seminar on Tuesday 22 September at 17.00 to be delivered through Zoom. It commemorates Popular Unity: The Lessons of Chile – 50 Years On, Salvador Allende, Chile’s first Socialist President, having been elected 50 years ago, in September 1970. We are delighted to welcome Francisco Dominguez, who will address Allende’s Chile: State and Revolution, and Fernando Duran-Palma and Miguel Urrutia, who will focus on Opening up the Great Avenues: Workers, Unions, and the Struggle against Neoliberalism in Chile (1979-2019).


Please let us know if you would like to attend by e-mailing Michael Gold (m.gold@rhul.ac.uk) or Linda Clarke (clarkel@wmin.ac.uk). We will then send you the link shortly before the seminar.


Michael Gold and Linda Clarke

September 2020