Shop Steward

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Shop Steward


in the British trade union movement, a representative elected by the workers in a shop, department, or plant. The position of shop steward originated at the end of the 19th century. At first, shop stewards did little more than check the payment of union dues by members, but during World War I they emerged as organizers of the mass workers’ movement for increased wages and improved working conditions and against the policy of an industrial truce conducted by the official trade union leaders. At this time, many shop stewards led the political struggle of the proletariat. This was particularly true in the industrial region of Clydeside, where the shop-steward movement was led by W. Gallacher’s Clyde Workers’ Committee.

In 1921 the progressive participants in the shop-steward movement joined the Communist Party of Great Britain. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, the shop stewards were accorded de facto recognition by the trade union leadership and by most company owners. After World War II they intensified their activities, and their numbers increased. According to unofficial data, there were approximately 175,000 shop stewards working in Great Britain in the mid-1960’s.

Shop stewards represent the interests of the workers during labor disputes and organize the struggle to protect trade union rights against encroachment by the monopolies. They are influential in determining the stand of the rank and file voters during election campaigns.


Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 41. Pages 260–67.
Karliner, M. M. Rabochee dvizhenie v Anglii v gody pervoi mirovoi voiny (1914–1918). Moscow, 1961.
Goodwin, D., H. Wyper, and J. Gibb. “Shop Stewards—Past, Present and Future.” Marxism Today, 1964, vol. 8, nos. 4,6, and 8.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
"In line with the SSC's recognition agreement with NAPWU, a representative from the shop stewards committee attends all interviews for positions in the bargaining unit.
To outflank the left's more intransigent positions and the Marxist shop stewards' greater belligerence on the shop floor, the Peronist leadership of the SMATA made periodic calls for the nationalization of IKA-Renault and at least publicly expressed demands for worker participation in administering the company.
* Maintenance on the job and the marshalling of the supportive system is handled by the shop steward and foreman.
Shortly afterwards the shop steward played his trump card.
Copland, 48, a ward night-duty co-ordinator for long-term patients at Ruchill Hospital, has been a shop steward for the GMB for several years.
Although some had years of experience as reform activists, seven of the new Teamster vice presidents had never before served in any official position higher than shop steward. Now they were about to take over the AFL-CIO's largest affiliate, including its Washington, D.C., headquarters, which they had long derided as "The Marble Palace." This monument to Teamster extravagance and corruption was a minefield of hostile bureaucrats, dysfunctional departments, and lazy, overpaid, and incompetent staff Foes of reform also controlled all Teamster joint councils, area conferences, and benefit-fund boards.
Gender and Trade Unions is a case study of shop stewards and lay union officers in the Sheffield Local Government Branch of the National and Local Government Officers' Association (NALGO).
Salmond is due to meet workers and shop stewards today to discuss the bid.
"In the early 1970s, as a shop steward on Bryant Estates sites in the Midlands, he and other communist militants succeeded in abolishing the "lump" casual labour system, improved wage rates and working conditions, and attracted enormous publicity through occupying the Rotunda site in Birmingham." His marriage ended in separation in 1977, and Norma died 10 years later.
Shop steward Mr Jones was on the picket line with other striking street cleaners who are angry at losing thousands of pounds a year under a controversial new pay package.
Amicus shop steward Simon Horton said: "On average, workers coming from a continental shift to the proposed three-shift will lose around pounds 336 a month."
The staff filed an unfair-labor-practice complaint against CCR, after management declared its intention to fire the shop steward, attorney Matthew Chachere.