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A TEXT BOOK
TRADE UNIONS AND TO LABOUR.
OF THE INNER TEMPLE, BARRISTER-AT-LAW
GEORGE HOWELL, F.S.S.
AUTHOR OF THE CONFLICTS OF CAPITAL AND LABOUR;”.
BOOK OF THE LABOUR LAWS," ETC.
SWEET & MAX WELL, LIMITED, 3, CHANCERY LANE
MANCHESTER: MEREDITH RAY & LITTLER
In the first and second editions of my HandyBook of the Labour Laws, I said : “ This is not intended as a text-book for lawyers, but as a guidebook for workmen." In the third edition, 1895, I said: “It was never designed as a text-book for the legal profession, it would have been presumptuous in me to aim at such distinction.” That work, however, has been received and treated with generous forbearance by the profession of all grades, and by Justices of the Peace, by Stipendiary Magistrates, and even by Her Majesty's Judges. I cannot but feel grateful for such recognition and kindly treatment, for, after all, it was only the work of a layman, designed for the use of laymen.
During the twenty-five years which the HandyBook of the Labour Laws has been before the public (it was first issued in 1876), I have hoped to see some work from the hands of a trained lawyer, which should be of such a character as to be regarded as a text-book to be quoted in the Courts. To have been asked to co-operate in such a work was a great compliment to me, and I was encouraged to comply not only by the cordial invitation of my coadjutor, but also by mutual friends to whom the project was communicated.
As to the necessity for such a work, it will be obvious to those who take an interest in the subject. No work has been published thereon since the year 1876, when Mr. Davis published his work. Three years prior to that date Mr. W. Guthrie published a work in Scotland, but that only dealt with the Trade Union Act, 1871. These works, however valuable at the time, are now out of date. All cases of significance have been decided since their publication. New points have arisen of grave importance during the last ten or twelve years, such as were scarcely contemplated at an earlier period; but no work has appeared dealing with the subject in its changed circumstances. The only book which filled the gap was the third edition of the Handy-Book of the Labour Laws, which appeared in 1895, and which probably would not have been published had some legal text-book been issued meanwhile.
Before the passing of the Trade Union Act in 1871, and of the “Labour Laws" in 1875, workmen were subject to criminal prosecution, and various Acts, or remnants of old laws or decisions in the Courts, and of the provisions of the Master and Servant Acts. Now they are mostly proceeded against by civil action in the civil Courts, a change for the better, which was the result of long years of agitation by the labour leaders, to whose efforts the change was due. But the cause of labour is not wholly free from danger of a serious kind. By means of injunctions, the men affected, and the unions to which they belong, run the double risk of being thwarted in a dispute while it is pending, and of ruinous litigation to contest the validity of any such injunction. Recent examples will be found in the notes and cases in support of this view.
Workmen generally, and especially the officers of trade unions and those denominated as labour leaders, should, as a matter of duty, strive to understand the law as applicable to labour, especially collective labour as represented by trade unions or other labour organisations. Ignorance of the law is not regarded as a valid excuse for any breach of the law, nor will it materially mitigate the penalties which such breach or offence entails. If the law be wrong, or unjust in its operation, workmen must endeavour to repeal or modify it. To ignore or break it only ends in disaster to all