Sunday, February 10, 2008

Charles Duncan MP - Workers Union

Charles Duncan (1865-1933)
Workers Union and Labour Member of Parliament

Mr. Charles Duncan's easy victory over Liberals of both brands in the Clay Cross Division of Derbyshire brought back to Parliament, after four years' absence a man who has won a high and special place in the trade union movement.
As Member for Barrow-in-Furness from 1906 to 1918, he took a notable part in the industrial controversies of that period, and served his party ably as a Whip.
In 1920 he unsuccessfully contested the Wrekin Division at two by-elections within 10 months.
Trade Unionism as a whole is indebted to Mr. Duncan for his achievements as a pioneer in the organisation of unskilled workers. Yet his own experience as a manual worker was in a skilled trade. At Middlesbrough, where he was born 57 years ago in 1865, he served his time as an engineer and later worked at Elswick works, Newcastle, and he is till a member of the Amalgamated Enginnering Union (A.E.U) (Former President of Maylebone brnach of the AEU)

In 1895 although unemployed himself he organised relief for the unemployed.

During his young manhood he became a Middlesborough Councillor and Guardianthe results of earlier efforts to establish Trade Unionism among agricultural workers seemed to have spent their force. The decadence which he perceived aroused in him a true missionary zeal.
The Workers' Union, of which he was first president, soon had 2,000 members, and won an advance of 2s. a week (from 13s. or 14s) in farm wages(The Workers Union was strong in Lincolnshire, Shropshire and lancashire). To-day, the Workers Union is one of the largest and strongest unions in the country. For 24 years Mr. Duncan has been its general secretary.(taking over from Tom Mann who had departed for Australia)
He is practically a life-long Co-operator, joining a society on his wedding-day (or there abouts). Since then he has been president of the Willesden Co-operative Society.
In his younger days he won many prizes for cycle racing and road racing. Though not a “pussyfoot” he has been an abstainer all his life It, perhaps is curious that a leader of labourers should be one of the best dressed men in the House of Commons, but such is the fact.

Charles Duncan MP Died 1933

Source: The Herald Book of Labour Members 1923