Shop Steward

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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.
References in periodicals archive ?
In a representative testimony, Mizael Bizzotto, an IKA-Renault shop steward, stated:
The job coach may be perceived as an "intruder" at the work site and thus could cause conflict with union members and shop stewards.
As the Queen prepared to open JLR's new PS500 million engine plant near Wolverhampton this week, shop stewards launched a withering attack on the company over a three-year pay and conditions offer worth around 14 per cent.
Shop stewards are concerned that one-off bonus payments do not impact on pensions while there are also fears about some changes to working practices and starter pay and conditions.
GMB union shop steward Alex Logan was pleased with the preferred bidder.
As a trade unionist I believe that our subscriptions should pay for all 'full time' shop stewards, not the local council tax payers.
Perhaps the solution is to rename librarians as political shop stewards for books; we can obviously afford them then.
Ms Snelgrove will have to get the rounds in if she wishes to be re-elected to the Labour MPs' shop stewards committee.
But rebel shop stewards immediately urged dockers at all main ports to stay out.
Shop stewards at the Grampian Foods plant at Llangefni have voted to call the three-day strike following a pay offer.
GMB union organiser Mark Wilson said shop stewards are waiting for the company to give them more information on their future.
Council workers, NHS staff, teachers, fire fighters and civil servants took part in the mass protest organised by the TUC and local shop stewards.