Trade Unionists Among the Crew

Seumas

Member
Mar 25, 2019
53
15
8
Glasgow, Scotland
It's clear from the bodies of crewmen recovered that a considerable number of the crew must have been trade union members. The three unions in question being the "National Sailors' and Firemen's Union", the "British Seafarer's Union" and the "National Union of Ship's Stewards, Cooks, Butchers and Bakers".

Were any of the ships crew at the time of sailing, known for organising or advocating for their union and did any of the surviving crew subsequently rise to any office of note within the trade union movement ?

Did the deck officers, engineers, electricians, and pursers have any organisation(s) they could join ?

Thank you.
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
4,888
147
193
The deck officers and probably the engineers were members of the Imperial Merchant Service Guild. I suspect pursers were included with stewards. I know nothing about whether they did anything of note in their unions.

At the British inquiry, some unions were represented by actual lawyers but interestingly two union officials, Mr Lewis and Mr Cotter, were allowed to appear on behalf of their members and ask questions, just like the lawyers.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Seumas

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
4,888
147
193
I think it was not about being progressive. It was an example of the relative informality of Mersey's court. He was conducting an inquiry, not a criminal trial, and some formalities were dispensed with. For instance, Lord Mersey and the lawyers wore ordinary clothes, with no wigs nor gowns. They even worked on a Saturday, which was pretty well unheard of in ordinary courts.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Seumas

Mike Spooner

Member
Jan 31, 2018
505
101
53
I believe the fireman or some times referred as stokers were a union them self. And refused to do lifeboat duties. I guest probably they wanted extra pay?
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
4,888
147
193
It's true that the firemen refused to do lifeboat drills, both before and after the sinking. Even an offer of a half day's extra pay didn't get results. It's all in the evidence of Captain Clarke, who inspected Titanic before she sailed.
 

Mike Spooner

Member
Jan 31, 2018
505
101
53
Captain Maurice Clarke had recommend 50% more lifeboats bring the total to 30, but told to keep is mouth shut in fear of losing his job. In the inquiry he said there were under staff to do a full inspection. One of the reason why the coal bunker fire inspection was missed out! Before giving the ship a full seaworthy certificate.
 

Mike Spooner

Member
Jan 31, 2018
505
101
53
It's true that the firemen refused to do lifeboat drills, both before and after the sinking. Even an offer of a half day's extra pay didn't get results. It's all in the evidence of Captain Clarke, who inspected Titanic before she sailed.
Just getting back to why the extra a half day's extra pay was turn down? I would of thought it was a very good deal. As shovelling coal into the boilers was a back breaking filthy unhealthy in high temperature job. Regarded as one of the worse job on the ship.