Volume 39 part 1 (April 1994)


JOHN K. WALTON AND JENNY SMITH, The Rhetoric of Community and the Business of Pleasure: the San Sebastián Waiters' Strike of 1920
Health and pleasure resorts constitute a distinctive, numerous and important kind of industrial town. But they, and the service industries which are central to their economies, have hardly been studied from a social conflict and industrial relations perspective. This paper opens out this theme by analysing a strike in the catering trades in San Sebastian, at the time Spain's largest and most prestigious seaside resort, at the height of the holiday season in August. The course of the strike is charted in its economic and political context, and the reasons for its outbreak, and for an ensuing attempt to escalate it into a local general strike, are analysed. Particular attention is paid to the status in the labour market of the camareros or hotel, restaurant and cafe waiters who withdrew their labour, and to reactions to the strike among local media who were deeply conscious of the importance to San Sebastian's staple industry of sustaining a carefully-constructed image of tranquillity and security. Comparisons are made with British resort experiences in the turbulent years between 1916 and 1921, and further work on this theme is urged, especially for this important period.

JOHN BELCHEM, "Freedom and Friendship to Ireland": Ribbonism in Early Nineteenth-Century Liverpool
The paper examines the role of "nationalist" secret societies among the rapidly growing Irish community in Britain in the 1830s and 18408. The main port of entry, Liverpool occupied a pivotal role as the two main "Ribbon" societies developed secret networks to provide migrant members with political sanctuary and a range of "tramping" benefits. Through its welfare provision, offered irrespective of skill or trade, Ribbonism engendered a sense of identity wider than that of the familial and regional affiliations through which chain migration typically operated. A proactive influence among immigrant Irish Catholic workers, Ribbonism helped to construct a national or ethnic awareness, initiating the process by which ethnic-sectarian formations came to dominate popular politics in nineteenth-century Liverpool, the nation's second city. This ethnic associational culture was at least as functional, popular and inclusive as the class-based movements and party structures privileged in conventional British historiography.

JOYCE M. MASTBOOM, Guild or Union? A Case Study of Rural Dutch Weavers, 1682-1750
This article discusses the defensive actions taken by a group of weavers in the rural eastern Netherlands in response to changing economic conditions; in particular, how they successfully re-established their weavers' guild to protect them against aggressive local merchants who were out to lower payments for woven cloth. A guild, by organizing many individuals into a group, could wield much more power than separate weavers on their own. But that was not all. Local weavers were aware that economic circumstances had changed, and that a new charter would have to be adapted so that it addressed the problems they faced. Hence, the charter they drafted provided for a guild that had the outward appearance of the old form of craft organization. However, in addition to the usual regulations it contains clauses that are more reminiscent of a trade union than a guild. The result was an organization that the weavers could use effectively to fend off their growing dependence on and subordination to merchants.