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Printers and Unions - The Warehouse PDF Print E-mail
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The Warehouse

Trade unionism amongst craft employees in warehouses in printing establishments began in London in 1840 with the formation of the London Society of Printers’ Warehousemen. Although committed to achieving minimum wages for warehousemen and cutters, it gave a higher priority to its benevolent society activities. In 1860, the Caxton Printers’ Warehousemen’s Association came into being, recruiting any employees under 45 years of age working in printers’ or booksellers’ warehouses, provided they had worked for at least five years in such an environment.

The creation of trade unions in the late 1880s for unskilled workers saw the formation in 1889 of the Printers’ and Stationers’ Warehousemen, Cutters and Assistants Union catering for men who unloaded, stacked, sorted, cut and folded paper in printers’ and stationers’ warehouses. Its membership was open to men over 18 years of age employed as a warehouseman or warehouse assistant in the printing, bookbinding, ruling, rolling or stationery trades. Within ten years, the union had established itself as a dynamic one in contrast to the two craft unions that required five years experience before granting membership. In 1893, the two craft unions merged to form the Amalgamated Society of Printers’ Warehousemen. Despite this, the Printers’ and Stationers’ Warehousemen, Cutters and Assistants Union continued to grow and in January 1900 swallowed up the merged craft union to create the National Amalgamated Society of Printers’ Warehousemen and Cutters. In 1912, the word “amalgamated” was dropped from its title. The union was involved in inter union disputes with the bookbinders’ trade union and the printers’ labourers’ union – NATSOPA. In 1874 it merged with the National Union of Paper mill Workers to create the National Union of Printing and Paper Workers (NUPPW). In 1901 the Manchester Printers’ and Stationers’ Cutters’ Union joined the Amalgamated Society followed one year later by the Dublin Paper Cutters’ Society. In 1903, the United Women Bookbinders Union, formed in 1892, joined the Society to protect its members from the introduction of folding machines. In 1901 a small society, the Male Relief Stampers’ Society, was formed but in 1919 transferred its membership into the London branch of the NUPBMR&PW.

Friction between the National Union of Bookbinders and Machine Rulers and the National Union of Printing and Paper workers over the organisation of women in the bookbinding and machine ruling trades continued, so a merger of the two societies offered the only long term solution. This was achieved in January 1921 with the formation of the National Union of Printing, Bookbinding, Machine Ruling and Paper Workers with a membership of 100,000. At the time this was the largest ever amalgamation in the history of printing trade unions. The words ‘Machine Ruling’ were dropped from the union’s title in 1928 thereby creating the National Union of Printing, Bookbinding and Paper workers.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 10:32