Thomas Smith (trade unionist)

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Thomas Smith (1847 December 1919) was a British trade union leader and politician.

British people citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, British Overseas Territories, Crown Dependencies, and their descendants

The British people, or the Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the British Overseas Territories, and the Crown dependencies. British nationality law governs modern British citizenship and nationality, which can be acquired, for instance, by descent from British nationals. When used in a historical context, "British" or "Britons" can refer to the Celtic Britons, the indigenous inhabitants of Great Britain and Brittany, whose surviving members are the modern Welsh people, Cornish people, and Bretons. It may also refer to citizens of the former British Empire.

A trade union, also called a labour union or labor union (US), is an organization of workers who have come together to achieve many common goals, such as protecting the integrity of their trade, improving safety standards, and attaining better wages, benefits, and working conditions through the increased bargaining power wielded by the creation of a monopoly of the workers. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with employers. The most common purpose of these associations or unions is "maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment". This may include the negotiation of wages, work rules, complaint procedures, rules governing hiring, firing and promotion of workers, benefits, workplace safety and policies.

Born in Stone, Staffordshire, Smith was taught bootmaking by his father, and the two moved first to Worcester, then to Stafford, to find work. In Stafford, Smith became involved with the trade union movement, and in time became leader of the Staffordshire Riveters. [1]

Stone, Staffordshire market town in Staffordshire, England

Stone is a market town and civil parish in Staffordshire, England, 7 miles (11 km) north of Stafford and 7 miles (11 km) south of Stoke-on-Trent. It was an urban district council and a rural district council before becoming part of the Borough of Stafford in 1974.

Worcester Cathedral City and non-metropolitan district in England

Worcester is a city in Worcestershire, England, 31 miles (50 km) southwest of Birmingham, 101 miles (163 km) west-northwest of London, 27 miles (43 km) north of Gloucester and 23 miles (37 km) northeast of Hereford. The population is approximately 100,000. The River Severn flanks the western side of the city centre, which is overlooked by Worcester Cathedral.

Stafford county town of Staffordshire, in the West Midlands of England

Stafford is the county town of Staffordshire, in the West Midlands of England. It lies approximately 16 miles (26 km) north of Wolverhampton, 18 miles (29 km) south of Stoke-on-Trent and 24 miles (39 km) north-west of Birmingham. The population in 2001 was 63,681 and that of the wider borough of Stafford 122,000, the fourth largest in the county after Stoke-on-Trent, Tamworth and Newcastle-under-Lyme.

In 1873, Smith organised a conference which successfully persuaded various local bootmakers' unions to merge. They formed the National Union of Boot and Shoe Rivetters and Finishers, and Smith easily elected as its first general secretary. He moved to Leicester to set up headquarters there, and became active in the local Liberal Party. [2] [3] Running the union proved difficult, with opposition from some employers, various factions vying for influence, and finances precarious, but it survived. [4] In 1877, when the Trades Union Congress was held in Leicester, Smith was elected to its Parliamentary Committee. [5]

Leicester City and unitary authority area in England

Leicester is a city and unitary authority area in the East Midlands of England, and the county town of Leicestershire. The city lies on the River Soar and close to the eastern end of the National Forest.

Liberal Party (UK) political party of the United Kingdom, 1859–1988

The Liberal Party was one of the two major parties in the United Kingdom with the opposing Conservative Party in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The party arose from an alliance of Whigs and free trade Peelites and Radicals favourable to the ideals of the American and French Revolutions in the 1850s. By the end of the 19th century, it had formed four governments under William Gladstone. Despite being divided over the issue of Irish Home Rule, the party returned to government in 1905 and then won a landslide victory in the following year's general election.

Trades Union Congress

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is a national trade union centre, a federation of trade unions in England and Wales, representing the majority of trade unions. There are fifty affiliated unions, with a total of about 5.6 million members. The current General Secretary is Frances O'Grady.

Smith was elected to Leicester School Board in 1877, and the year after, resigned as secretary of the union to become the full-time secretary of the Leicester Liberal Association, although he retained his union membership. He remained secretary of the Liberals until 1892, [6] by which time he had also been elected to Leicester Town Council. He then took employment with the Board of Trade as an official arbitrator in trade disputes. Remaining on the council, he served as Mayor of Leicester in 1907/08. [1]

Board of Trade committee of the United Kingdom Privy Council

The Board of Trade is a British government department concerned with commerce and industry, currently within the Department for International Trade. Its full title is The Lords of the Committee of the Privy Council appointed for the consideration of all matters relating to Trade and Foreign Plantations, but is commonly known as the Board of Trade, and formerly known as the Lords of Trade and Plantations or Lords of Trade, and it has been a committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. The Board has gone through several evolutions, beginning with extensive involvement in colonial matters in the 17th Century, to powerful regulatory functions in the Victorian Era, to virtually being dormant in the last third of 20th century. In 2017, it was revitalized as an advisory board headed by the International Trade Secretary who has nominally held the title of President of the Board of Trade, and who at present is the only privy counsellor of the Board, the other members of the present Board filling roles as advisers.

The position of Lord Mayor of Leicester is a mainly ceremonial post, being the title of the chairman of the Leicester City Council, elected annually by the members of the council.

Smith died in 1919, while serving as an alderman on the council. His obituary in The Observer noted that he was a friend of Henry Broadhurst. [7]

An alderman is a member of a municipal assembly or council in many jurisdictions founded upon English law. The term may be titular, denoting a high-ranking member of a borough or county council, a council member chosen by the elected members themselves rather than by popular vote, or a council member elected by voters.

<i>The Observer</i> weekly British newspaper, published on Sundays

The Observer is a British newspaper published on Sundays. In the same place on the political spectrum as its sister papers The Guardian and The Guardian Weekly, whose parent company Guardian Media Group Limited acquired it in 1993, it takes a social liberal or social democratic line on most issues. First published in 1791, it is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper.

Henry Broadhurst British politician

Henry Broadhurst was a leading early British trade unionist and a Lib-Lab politician who sat in the House of Commons for various Midlands constituencies between 1880 and 1906.

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  1. 1 2 Ned Newitt, "Thomas Smith", The Who's Who of Radical Leicester
  2. Ned Newitt, A People's History of Leicester, p.18
  3. Bill Lancaster, Radicalism, cooperation and socialism, p.41
  4. Alan Fox, A history of the National Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives, 1847-1957, p.49
  5. Trades Union Congress, "Parliamentary Committee elected at Leicester", Annual Report of the 1877 Trades Union Congress, p.37
  6. James R. Moore, The Transformation of Urban Liberalism, p.239
  7. [no title], The Observer , 7 December 1919, p.15
Trade union offices
Preceded by
New position
General Secretary of the National Union of Boot and Shoe Rivetters and Finishers
Succeeded by
George Sedgwick