David Holmes (trade unionist)

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David Holmes
David Holmes.png
Holmes in 1895
BornNovember 16, 1843
DiedJanuary 14, 1906(1906-01-14) (aged 62)
Occupation Trade unionist

David Holmes (16 November 1843 14 January 1906) was a British trade unionist.

Born in Manchester, Holmes worked as a weaver from the age of 8. When he was ten, he ran away from home to live with an uncle in Padiham. He continued weaving but also received some education at the local Unitarian chapel. [1]

Early in the 1860s, Holmes married and the couple moved to Burnley. There, he was a leading founder member of the Burnley Weavers' Association. In 1871, he was elected as its president and served until his death. He focused his activities on promoting collective bargaining for wages; he opposed the eight-hour day and supported child labour, as he believed that they contributed to the weavers' comparative advantage over workers elsewhere.

Despite his moderation, he was blacklisted by employers and instead took work as a rag-and-bone man to support his family, alongside his union role. In 1878, he led the union in part of a major but unsuccessful county-wide strike. That led, in 1884, to the creation of the Northern Counties Amalgamated Association of Weavers, with Holmes as president. [1]

Holmes was a member of the Parliamentary Committee of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), where he opposed the new unions, which organised unskilled labour, and attended various international conferences representing the organisation. [1]

Politically, Holmes was a supporter of the Liberal Party, and he served on Burnley Town Council. He was an opponent of socialism and of the Labour Party when it emerged. However, his protégé and designated successor, David Shackleton, would join the Labour Party. [1]

Holmes stood down from the TUC in 1902 and became less active elsewhere. [1]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Duncan Bythell, "Holmes, David", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Trade union offices
Preceded by
New position
President of the Burnley Weavers' Association
1870 1906
Succeeded by
Robert Pollard
Preceded by
New position
President of the Northern Counties Amalgamated Association of Weavers
1884 1906
Succeeded by
Preceded by
New position
President of the United Textile Factory Workers' Association
1889 1890s
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of the Trades Union Congress
Succeeded by
Preceded by
New position
Trades Union Congress representative to the American Federation of Labour
With: John Burns
Succeeded by