THE NEW UNIONISM IN SOUTH WALES, 1889-92 DESPITE the existence of a few books dealing with particular industries, the detailed story of the development of trade unionism in South Wales has, as yet, hardly begun to be told. Naturally enough, attention has been generally concentrated upon the miners and tin-plate workers.1 These formed compact, coherent groups whilst, in addition, they-particularly the miners-played a predominant role in the development of industrial society in South Wales. Trade union growth amongst other workers has been neglected, amongst other reasons, because they formed less compact groups, were numerically less important, and were often relatively late in develop- ing any union tradition. Part of the purpose of this article is to draw attention to the beginnings of organization amongst some of these groups and to suggest that their unions were in some ways different in character from the older unions of the region and that these differences have had some significance for Welsh life and culture. Its main purpose is the simpler and more limited one of providing a brief sketch of a few eventful years in the trade union history of the region. For the most part developments in the mining, iron and steel, and tin-plate industries have been overlooked in order to concentrate attention upon less familiar fields. It needs to be explicitly noted that this approach necessarily involves some distortion of perspective. The more general writings on labour development around 1890 give scant attention to events in South Wales.2 This is not surprising. South Wales was following trends which had their origins elsewhere: the struggles of the London gas workers, match-girls, and dockers are rightly highlighted as the initiating actions in the new impulse towards trade union growth. In addition the strikes in South Wales in 1890 and 1891 were part of a general unrest and form only incidents in a widespread outburst of activity. They do not, therefore, command the attention which attaches to the Taff Vale strike of 1900 (insignificant in itself but leading to the famous judgement by the law Lords) or to the Cambrian strike of 1910 (which was the first major step towards a legal minimum wage for miners )-strikes 1 See, e.g. D. Evans, Labour Strife in the South Wales Coalfield, 1910-1911 (Cardiff, 1911); N. Edwards, The South Wales Miners' Federation (1938); E. W. Evans, The Miners of South Wales (Cardiff, 1961); and the relevant chapters in J. H. Jones. The Tin-plate Industry (1914); W. E. Minchinton, The British Tin-plate Industry (Oxford. 1957); and J. H. Morris and L. J. Williams. The South Wales Coal Industry, 1841-75 (Cardiff, 1958). The iron and steel workers, apart from those connected with the tin-plate industry, have been more neglected although much may be gleaned from Men of Steel by One of Them (Sir Arthur Pugh, 1951). I See. e.g. S. and B. Webb. The History of Trade Unionism (1920 ed.); G. D. H. Cole, The History of the British Working Class Movement, 1787-1947 (1948).