Publication Date



The article examines the development of the insurance function of trade unions. It analyzes how such policies worked, and why union benefit packages differed across occupations. It also addresses the impact of insurance policies on union organization. Insurance benefits increased the ability of unions to attract and retain members. They did not, however, significantly increase the power of union leaders relative to employers or union rank and file.


Suggested Citation

Boyer, G. R. (1988). What did unions do in nineteenth-century Britain? [Electronic version]. Journal of Economic History 48(2), 319-332.

Required Publisher Statement

© Cambridge University Press. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.