Enamel Badges of the National Union of Mineworkers

 

Enamel Badges of the National Union of Mineworkers is available from Brian Witts, 4 Balmoral Drive, Hednesford, Staffordshire WS12 4LT. Price £33, with cheques payable to Nine-One-Seven. Email gailwitts@hotmail.co.uk for further information or call 01543 425743.

Enamel Badges of the National Union of Mineworkers is available from Brian Witts, 4 Balmoral Drive, Hednesford, Staffordshire WS12 4LT. Price £33, with cheques payable to Nine-One-Seven. Email gailwitts@hotmail.co.uk for further information or call 01543 425743.

Enamel Badges of the National Union of Mineworkers is a new book which sets out to catalogue exactly what it says in the title – and succeeds admirably. 

In its 156 glossy pages, the book includes – at a rough count – some 1,700 full-colour photographs of different NUM badges along with full descriptions and details of the dates at which they were produced and the numbers manufactured.

This volume is undoubtedly a labour of love on the part of badge collector Brian Witts, himself a stalwart of the 1984-85 miners strike, who must have put in untold hundreds of hours’ work to produce this book.

And it has to be said, the outcome is a magnificent work that anyone with an interest in trade union or mining memorabilia would be proud to own, and which is essential for collectors, both as a reference work and for the pure pleasure to be had in browsing through its pages.

Best of all, all the profits are going to the Justice for Mineworkers campaign, which even now, a quarter of a century after the great miners’ strike of 1984-85 began, needs to continue its work on behalf of those victimised during and after the dispute.

In a foreword to the book, Rick Sumner, national convenor of Justice for Mineworkers, acknowledges the part played by the 1984-85 strike in virtually creating a new badge culture in the NUM, building on a relatively small tradition of national and area badges in previous years.

As he puts it:

“With the 1984-85 strike, a whole new scene developed. Every pit and workshop produced badges to show their loyalty to the union and the strike and a wonderful contemporary art form developed. Men on the picket lines not only wore their own branch badge but also collected others from across the whole of Britain. Many pits produced a series of badges that could be sold to raise money for the struggle.”

Make sure you order your copy of Enamel Badges of the National Union of Mineworkers while stocks last. It is likely to become a collector’s item – and valuable historical source – in its own right.

Enamel Badges of the National Union of Mineworkers is available from Brian Witts, 4 Balmoral Drive, Hednesford, Staffordshire WS12 4LT. Price £33, with cheques payable to Nine-One-Seven. Email Brian Witts for further information or call 01543 425743.num_book003

TUC 1926 general strike newspaper

The British Worker - TUC general strike newspaper 1926. 

The British Worker - TUC general strike newspaper 1926.

The Trade Union Badge Collectors Society also includes collectors of other trade union ephemera –membership cards, commemorative plates, posters and leaflets…

This rather sad memento of the 1926 general strike is the 13 May edition of The British Worker, announcing the TUC General Council’s decision to end the strike and organise a return to work. Despite its upbeat tone, the strike had ended in defeat for the miners and disaster for the trade union movement.

The British Worker was launched by the TUC at the beginning of the strike and printed on the presses of the Daily Herald. This particular paper was the eighth in the run. There would in total be 11 before publication ceased on 17 May 1926, with circulation peaking at half a million.

Further examples of the paper can be seen on the Union Makes Us Strong trade union history website.

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National Asylum Workers Union

Badge of the National Asylum Workers Union

The National Asylum Workers Union was founded in 1910, largely as a result of dissatisfaction with a new national pension scheme introduced for mental health workers the previous year.

Though heralded as a breakthrough by the then dominant Asylum Workers Association, the scheme was considerably worse for some asylum workers than the discretionary schemes it replaced. Their frustration came to a head in Lancashire, where agitation and petitions to improve the new scheme’s terms failed to sway members of the county asylums board.

The new union’s slogan, “All for one and one for all: thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”, was adopted early on at the same meeting, at the Boar’s Head Hotel, Preston, on 24 September 1910, at which the union was named. The first half of the slogan can be seen on the union’s badge.

By July 1912, the NAWU had 5,400 members and a paid general secretary, the Rev HMS Bankart, a former mental hospital chaplain. It affiliated to the Labour Party in 1915 and to the TUC in 1923.

One of its first disputes, at Bodmin Asylum in October 1918, broke out when nurses were ordered to remove their union badges and refused to do so. Five nurses were sacked, and 34 more walked out in sympathy (from a staff of 70).

Within a week, male staff at the hospital had joined the strike, and the visiting committee was forced to back down, reinstating all those who had been dismissed and permitting them to wear their union badges.

The union changed its name in 1930 to the Mental Hospital and Institutional Workers Union and, with the backing of the TUC, began to recruit in opposition to the National Association of Local Government Officers (NALGO).

In 1946, the MHIWU merged with the smaller Hospital and Welfare Services Union to form the Confederation of Health Service Employees, under which name it continued to operate until 1993, when it was one of three founder unions of the new Unison public services union. Its partners were the National Union of Public Employees and NALGO.

More on the history of the National Asylum Workers Union and its successor unions can be found on Michael Walker’s COHSE blog.

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