Marxists Internet Archive: History Archive: British History: The Luddites and the Combination Acts
The Luddites and the Combination Acts
At a time when unions were being brutally suppressed and wages were being depressed to starvation levels by the introduction of machinery, weavers led by Ned Ludd organised a campaign of smashing machinery. They became known as The Luddites.
Seditious Assemblies Act 1795.
The Combination Laws 1800.
The Weavers; Declaration Ned Ludd, 1812.
The Luddites in the West Riding a Barnsley Weaver, 1812.
Report of Luddite activity in Yorkshire Earl Fitzwilliam, 1812.
The strike wave which broke out after the repeal of the Combination Act was replaced by a new Combination Act in 1825. The new Act narrowly defined the rights of trade unions as meeting to bargain over wages and conditions. Anything outside these limits was liable to prosecution as criminal conspiracy in restraint of trade. Trade unionists were not allowed to "molest", "obstruct", or intimidate" others.
Initiation Ceremony of The Woolcomber’s Union, circa 1834.
The Tolpuddle Martyrs, 1834.