This 7 page paper examines the power held by employers over employees during the period 1870 – 1914. Revisionist labour historiography stresses the divisions within British employers ranks, their lack of class solidarity and the inherent impotence of industrialists in the face of powerful work groups and trade unions over the period 1880 -1914, the paper considers the changes to assertion the accuracy of this interpretation of the changing power of the time. The bibliography cites 8 sources.
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of motivation, however during the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century the issue was one of power and control. The attraction of scientific management was
the way it fragmented the production process and placed management in control, transferring the power of discretion to employers away from employees (Huczyniski and Buchanan, 1996). However, despite these changes
revisionist labour historiography stresses a loss of power to the employers as a result of lacking solidarity in the employers class and a rise of solidarity in the workers class,
creating a disproportionate influence for the first time favouring workers. The argument does not indicate the employers were powerless and victims of the unions, but the balance of power
was shifting. In examining the period between 1870 and 1914 there are major changes in the employment relationship. The change is the
increase in workers power, not only directly, but also through influence. At the beginning of this period the Master and Servant Act 1867 was in place (Lockton, 1999). The Gas
stokers sought changes in this law, possibly spurred on by being found guilty of breaching their employment contract, which at the time was a criminal offence (Laybourn, 1997). Therefore at
this stage, whatever the degree of solidarity between employers, they are in the most powerful position. Scotland had started the change, when in 1867, as a result of Scottish Unions
activity, the power of arrest was taken away, and an arrest warrant was needed, but in England the workers could simply be summonsed (Laybourn, 1997). The inequality and as such
a reflection of the contemporary power paradigm was the absence of criminal proceeding where there was a breach by the employer (Laybourn, 1997).