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ONOZUKA, Tomoji Personal Website
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Faculty of Economics,
The University of Tokyo,
7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-0033
Research Field
Economic History of the Western World
Research Theme
After analyzing more than 400 biographical data of engineers from the eighteenth century till the inter-war period, the origin of Craft Regulations in the British Engineering Industry is found at latest in the 1830-40s, when it was made a custom between employers and workers that only those who have served more than five years at the engineering trade can enter into the trade legally or regularly. Even with some exceptions, such custom has been prevailing in Britain and Ireland for a century. Though the early engineers' unions relaxed the entrance rules based on apprenticeship in the 1800-20s, engineering employers did not define at all what competence they required of engineers and how to train it, and they were obliged to depend almost entirely upon apprenticeship as an existing training system in order to procure necessary workforce. The fact was that engineering apprenticeship was newly formed in the new branches of the trade such as turners, fitters, machine-joiners etc., and even in the old engineering trades such as millwrights and smiths apprenticeship was transformed into the modern version which did not require strict seven years but only five years apprenticeship with two years experience in the trade and /or being rated as craft (skilled) worker. James Nasmyth remarkably broke down apprenticeship and the entrance regulations, but his 'non-apprenticeship' did not define engineer's competence and its training process too.

In the mid nineteenth century not only the entrance rules into the trade but various regulations on the number of apprentices, demarcation, new processes and machinery, working hour and overtime, paying method, etc. as a whole made the Craft Regulations established in the engineering industry. Employers' associations, which developed their power and organization in accordance with engineering trade unions such as the Amalgamated Engineers and the Boilermakers in the 1860-70s and the following decades, stood upon the Craft basis. And they were empowered to restrict individual managerial prerogatives. Engineering employers attained subjective issues of factory management and administration, though they did not define the competence and the shop floor power authorized by themselves with which engineering workers were made capable of regulating the trade. As a result Craft Regulations survived unchanged through the latter half of the century. For a better management the employers followed non-unionization of foremen as key person on shop floor matter, while foremen pursued their own organization as benefit and educational society by which they appealed and assumed that they retained 'the engineers' culture' which was now neglected by both employers and workers.

In the inter-war British engineering industry there can be found a possibility for defeating Craft Regulations, but the employers did not actually defeat it because they were restricted by the industrial relations system and their own associations, not solely by trade unions. The employers condemned the unjustifiable Craft Regulation set by the collective workers on the one hand, and depended upon it on the other hand, thinking that craftsmanship was the important heritage of the British engineering industry.