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By B. J. McCormick (auth.)

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Sample text

The Federation held together, it won and the employers were left in disarray. The fact that the State had to intervene, and did so on the side of the miners, was a portent for the future. When the Federation did establish a minimum wage for South Wales-it was not necessary in the Federated Area- it chose to use the machinery of the State. And the intervention by the State set a precedent for future industrial conflicts. In 1895 it stepped into the boot and shoe industry's biggest ever dispute and in 1896 it became involved in a railway dispute.

The second lesson of 1912 was that it demonstrated the possibilities of using minimum wage legislation to protect collectively bargained rates. In 1908 statutory wage boards had been set up to fix wages in the unorganised trades, mainly domestic trades of chainmaking, paper-box making and tailoring. However, these were not typical trades but ones which were being replaced by factory production. The big expansion of statutory wage fixing came in 1918, 1943 and 1945the forerunner was the Coal Mines (Minimum Wages) Act, since the successful application of statutory wages boards requires the prior existence of some degree of organisation of both employers 30 Industrial Relations in the Coal Industry and workers and it was this idea that Ernest Bevin developed in 1943 and 1945, when he introduced minimum wage legislation for catering and retail distribution in order to protect the wages obtained by unions for some workers in those trades and for workers in other trades.

A proposed lockout was averted by the promise of a full-scale inquiry and, until the inquiry was complete, there was to be financial assistance. In the interim the miners were to return to work on the 1924 terms. The Samuel Commission of 1925 rejected nationalisation and opposed any further subsidies, whether permanent or temporary, but it agreed with many of the arguments in the miners' case. It stated that wages should be determined by national agreements in order to avoid cut-throat competition between the districts at the expense of wages.

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