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Grand National Consolidated Trade Union

Grand National Consolidated Trade Union. Founded in 1834 by delegates of societies nation-wide in response to calls of Derby artisans and labourers ‘locked out’ for belonging to ‘combinations’. It was associated with Robert Owen, who became president only after the trial of the Tolpuddle martyrs in March. The GNCTU's attempt to co-ordinate unions on a general (rather than trade-specific) basis was innovative, aiming to provide financial support by imposing levies on affiliates and practical help by establishing co-operatives for strikers. Hitherto unorganized groups of workers, including agricultural labourers and some women, were amongst the 500,000 members. Handicapped from the outset by meagre funds (only a tiny fraction of fees were paid), the GNCTU's demise was precipitated when the treasurer absconded with its finances in December 1834. The collapse of this short-lived movement was symptomatic of the fate of trade unionism prior to the 1850s.

Stuart Carter

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