The Union Makes Us Stronger. TUC | History Online logo TUC banner photo
Advanced Search
Home Timeline General Strike Match Workers The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists TUC Reports Feedback Email Us
Timeline 1815-1834 1850-1880 1914-1918 1939-1945 1960-2000
1815-1834 1834-1850 1850-1880 1880-1914 1914-1918 1918-1939 1939-1945 1945-1960 1960-2000
1834-1850 1880-1914 1918-1939 1945-1960 Tutor's Notes link Enlarge timeline
1880-1914 Socialism National Federation of Women Workers The Labour Party
Corruganza box makers strike, 1908
National Federation of Women Workers

The National Federation of Women Workers

The National Federation of Women Workers (NFWW) was formed in 1906 by Mary Macarthur. The Federation had close links with the Women's Trade Union League, with Gertrude Tuckwell serving as president of both organisations from 1908. The NFWW saw strikes as the chief means of unionising unorganised workers and probably did more than any other organisation (including trade unions) to unionise women especially during the mass strike wave of 1910-1914. The Federation was entirely unself-seeking, in that its efforts were purely for the benefit of the unions rather than its own prestige. Although its membership had risen to 20, 000 by 1914, its leaders never intended that the NFWW should remain permanently as a women's union. In fact in 1921 it quietly merged with the National Union of General Workers (now the GMB).

The Federation, along with many of the other women's organisations, campaigned to expose the evils of the sweated trades. Their propaganda was very effective and played a major part in inducing the Liberal government to pass the 1909 Trade Boards Act which was an attempt to fix minimum wages in certain of the most exploitative trades, usually the ones in which women predominated.

Professor Mary Davis, Centre for Trade Union Studies, London Metropolitan University.
Match Workers, Bryant and May, 1888 Ben Tillett
  Gas Workers' rally at Peckham Rye, 1889   East End kids imitating their Dads, (Dock Strike 1911)  
  Clarion Van, 1914   Tom Mann  
© London Metropolitan University | Terms & Conditions