By W. Hamish Fraser
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Additional info for A History of British Trade Unionism, 1700-1998
It was intended as a deliberate challenge to Applegarth and to the now much-weakened London Trades Council. Delegates from 30 provincial unions and nine trades councils attended and set up their own committee to prepare for the Royal Commission. It was not a question of Potter’s conference speaking for more militant elements. Almost all the delegates favoured conciliation and arbitration for settling disputes every bit as much as Applegarth and his associates, but their interests were different.
It left engineering workshops as places where different workers struggled against one another for control of changing labour processes. Amalgamation of unions or tasks was never an easy process. The two key figures behind the amalgamation, were the Ulster-born Scot, William Allan from Crewe, and the Cheshire engineer and publican, William Newton. Newton was the inspirer and publicist, Allan the organiser and administrator. Both had been working towards amalgamation for half a decade or more; both had a fairly clear conception of what they wanted the new organisation to achieve.
Newton was the inspirer and publicist, Allan the organiser and administrator. Both had been working towards amalgamation for half a decade or more; both had a fairly clear conception of what they wanted the new organisation to achieve. Like other unions of craftsmen before them, their concern was to devise a union which would regulate entry into the trade and ensure that the various engineering crafts were not flooded by poorly skilled, low-paid new workers whose presence would push down the level of wages.