National Union of Scottish Mineworkers

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The National Union of Scottish Mineworkers (NUSW) was a trade union in Scotland.


The union was founded in 1894, as the Scottish Miners Federation (SMF). It initially brought togetherthe Ayrshire Miners' Federal Union, Coal-Miners of Mid and West Lothian Labour Federation, Fife and Kinross Miners' Association, Forth and Clyde Valley Miners' Association, Lanarkshire Miners' Federation and Mid and East Lothian Miners' Association,[1] with several other joining soon after. It initially had 35,900 members.[2] The union immediately organised a strike for better pay and conditions. It also joined the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, and this led to conflict as the SMF president, Robert Smillie, agreed to follow English unions in accepting wage reductions, against the wishes of secretary Chisholm Robertson and leading activist Shaw Maxwell.[3]

Although the early strike was lost, the federation remained in existence, with membership reduced to under 16,000, and particularly few members in Lanarkshire. However, members were regained by the end of the decade, and as coal prices rose, the union was able to win more of its demands.[3] The SMF became known as a strong supporter of socialism.[3]

By 1914, membership had risen around 82,000, with half in Lanarkshire, one quarter in Fife and Kinross, an eighth in Ayrshire, and most of the remainder in Mid and East Lothian.[4] The union adopted a new structure, with less autonomy for its affiliates, and was renamed as the "National Union of Scottish Mineworkers".[5] In 1929, a group of left-wingers, mostly linked with the Communist Party of Great Britain, left to form the rival United Mineworkers of Scotland. This initially saw some success, but rejoined in 1936.[6]

In 1944, the MFGB became the National Union of Mineworkers, and NUSW became its Scottish Area, with less autonomy than before.[7]

Earlier union

A former union of the same name went bankrupt in 1882, due to a strike begun in the previous year.[8]


1894: Chisholm Robertson
1896?: Robert Brown
1917: James Brown
1918: Robert Smith
1936: Alexander Sloan
1940: James Cook
1945: William Pearson
1956: John Wood
1969: Bill McLean
1977: Eric Clarke
1990s: Nicky Wilson


1894: Robert Smillie
1919: John Robertson
1922: Robert Smillie
1928: James Doonan
1932: Andrew Clarke
1942: Abe Moffat
1961: Alex Moffat
1967: Mick McGahey
1987: George Bolton


  1. The Labour Gazette, vol.2 (1894), p.47
  2. Arthur Ivor Marsh and Victoria Ryan, Historical directory of trade unions, Volume 6, pp.510-511
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 David Howell, British Workers and the Independent Labour Party 1888-1906, pp.34-36
  4. William Kenefick, Red Scotland, p.37
  5. Robert Page Arnot, A History of the Scottish Miners, p.134
  6. Robert Page Arnot, A History of the Scottish Miners, pp.195-236
  7. Ian MacDougall, Voices from Work and Home, p.513
  8. Anderson, W.K. (1 December 2001). "Andrew Fisher: 'a proud, honest man of Scotland'". Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>