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Airdrie Branch of the National Union of Operative Colliers and Ironstone Miners of Scotland Door Plaque, 1837
Trade union membership was originally prohibited by law and known activists were blacklisted by employers. In 1842 a miner complained that the 'coal and ironcrats were robbing the poor miners of even the liberty of meeting each other'. Many early workers' associations, including those of miners, were as a result secretive and borrowed various practices from Freemasonry such as identifying grips, passwords and oaths.
Quite often - as with workplace strike committees - unions would form or disband around a particular dispute. As there seems to be few records connected with the National Union of Operative Colliers and Ironstone Miners of Scotland, it is likely that they lasted for a short while or amalgamated with another miners' union. Trade Unions were not completely legalised until 1871.
Pontifex and Stiles
Summerlee Museum: Exhibition Hall
1837 · National Union of Operative Colliers and Ironstone Miners of Scotland · Airdrie
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