A ‘solemn and binding’ agreement
in Comrades in conflict
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This chapter explains how a ‘solemn and binding’ agreement was eventually reached, after several weeks of intense negotiations between Wilson, Castle and TUC leaders. The TUC had drafted counter-proposals to the Government’s Industrial Relations Bill, whereby the General Council would play a more active role in tackling inter-union disputes and unofficial strikes. The TUC’s proposed measures were enshrined in a document entitled Programme for Action, which was overwhelmingly endorsed at a special TUC conference in Croydon in June 1969. In response, Castle and Wilson insisted that the TUC’s counter-proposals were inadequate and needed to be strengthened, something the TUC insisted was impossible: it had gone as far as it could. The chapter then explains how the apparent stalemate was finally broken when the negotiations produced the ‘solemn and binding’ agreement between the Government and the TUC. By this stage, however, most of the Cabinet and the PLP were opposed to persevering with the Government’s legislation, and instead urged acceptance of the TUC’s counter-proposals. This meant that, at the very end, Wilson and Castle were in a rather weak bargaining position, a fact that the TUC leaders were well aware of.

Comrades in conflict

Labour, the trade unions and 1969’s In Place of Strife


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