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Trade Union Act

Trade Union Act, 1871. Passed by Gladstone's administration following the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Trade Societies (1867), the Act clarified the legality of trade unions and provided for their funds to be protected under the Friendly Society Act, 1855. Penal clauses, initially included in this Act, were incorporated in the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1871. Intimidation, obstruction, and molestation were difficult to define at law; Disraeli's government legalized peaceful picketing in 1875 (Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act). These measures did not solve the complex issues of behaviour during industrial disputes but they did indicate the growing electoral importance of skilled urban workers.

John Butt

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