Newspaper cuttings relating to the Industrial Relations Act

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Press cuttings (1972-1974) from national newspapers including 'The Times' and the 'Guardian', relating to trades unions, industrial relations and the National Industrial Relations Court and a file of cuttings and pamphlets on the Rookes v. Barnard case (1963-1971)

Administrative / Biographical History

The Industrial Relations Act 1971 introduced by the Conservative Government was a highly controversial piece of legislation concerning trade unions, employers and employee rights. It specifically sought to weaken the collective bargaining powers of unions, allow employers to insert 'no strike' clauses into employment contracts, required unions to be registered and required a secret ballot before a strike could be called.

It provoked fierce objections across the Trade Union and on 1st March 1971 an estimated 1.5 million people stopped work across the country in an unofficial day of protest. The Act also established the National Industrial Relations Court (NIRC) which was given powers to hear a range of labour disputes. 32 trades unions that complied with the Act by registering as a union were suspended by the Trades Union Congress in 1972.

In July 1972 five shop stewards were jailed by the NIRC after refusing to obey a court order about picketing a depot in East London. The arrest led to the TUC calling for a general strike and the five who were nicknamed the 'Pentonville Five' were released on appeal a week after their arrest.

The Act was repealed in 1974 following the Labour party's victory in the General Election. Some elements including the right not to be unfairly dismissed were included in the 1974 Trade Union and Labour Relations Act but the NIRC was dissolved.

Conditions Governing Access

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Custodial History

From the library of Professor P. G. Espinasse donated to the archives on 24th Feb 1976

Related Material

File. National Industrial Relations Court, 1972 [Ref U DCL/598/8]

Files of Press cuttings amongst the Papers of Tony (Anthony John) Topham [Ref U DTO/6/50-51]

Other papers of PG 'Espinasse are at U DX90 and U DX299