Chapter

Robert Knight and industrial democracy

Alastair J. Reid

in The Tide of Democracy

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780719081033
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702949 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719081033.003.0009
Robert Knight and industrial democracy

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This chapter explores the nature of Robert Knight's trade union leadership, pulling together the highly fragmented and rather formal coverage of his activities and ideas contained in the reports and minutes of the organisation to which he devoted most of his adult life. The overall impression given by such public material is that Knight's outstanding characteristics were honesty, hard work, and a systematic approach to administration; alongside clarity, thoroughness, and a logical style of argument: in debates on union issues he was always well prepared and persuasive, and he was clearly a skilful negotiator in industrial disputes. These qualities which made him such an effective union organiser possibly did not make him the most endearing of men: on their negative side they might appear as ruthless efficiency and relentless logic. However, to acknowledge that as a person Robert Knight might sometimes have had an authoritative, or even overbearing, manner would not amount to a demonstration that the union he led was an undemocratic organisation.

Keywords: trade union; union leaders; union organizers; Robert Knight; boilermakers' society

Chapter.  13536 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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