The minutes of Edinburgh Trades Council, the former name of Edinburgh TUC, between 1859 and 1873 were published in 1968 in a book edited by Ian MacDougall MA, the Secretary of the Scottish Labour History Society.

Except for a minute book of Glasgow Trades Council for 1858-9, no other Scottish trades council minutes survive for this or any earlier period.

There was an Edinburgh trade union committee in the 1830s. This is known because the press refer to a march and rally organised to celebrate the passage of the Reform Bill in 1832. However, it seems probable that the formation of a permanent trades council in Edinburgh took place in 1853. It has met continuously since then. Edinburgh Trades Council is the oldest existing trades council in Britain after Liverpool.

For a flavour of those days have a look at extracts from the minutes. Back to Home Page.


The minutes of the meeting held on15 March 1859 in Burden's Coffee House, High Street, Edinburgh.

Delegates present: Brass Founders, Mr. George Smith; Joiners, Mr John Borrowman, Mr William Caw; Tailors, Mr William Troup, Mr Alexander Taylor.

The Secretary read a letter from the city clerk , Mr John Sinclair, intimateing that he communication from the previous meeting regarding the erecting of wells in East Princes Street Gardens had been considered by the Magistrates, who had resolved that the consideration be delayed in the meantime.

Oweing to the smallness of the Meetting it was agreed to remit the rest of the business on the paper till next meeting. viz., the vote on the grant to Mr Glover, and the consideration of the Concilliation Bill. Mr John Borrowman then gave notice that he would at next Meetting Move the consideration of the propriety of Establishing a Co-Operative Store in Edinburgh. Mr William Troup also gave notice that he would move the Propriety of haveing A Library for the use of the Working Classes, with suitable accomodation for the same.

An extract from the minutes of the meeting held on 28th September 1859. This meeting was called to discuss ' The Document'. This declared that the signatory was not and would not during his engagement become a member or supporter of a trade union.

A Special Meeting was held. Vice-President in the chair. Resolved that 200 bills announcing the meeting to be held on the 6th proximo be printed.

The following Resilutions were then agreed to be submitted to the Public Meeting on the 6th inst: 1st That this meeting is of the opinion that the Document issued by the Employers in the Building Trades of London for thier Workmen to sign before giving them employment is an unjust and tyranical interferance with their rights as citizens and Freemen. 2ns That this meeting desire to record their sympathy with the Workmen of London for the Noble stand they have made in resisting the Master's Document and hereby resolve to aid them by subscriptions among the Working Classes of Edinburgh. 3rd That a Committee be appointed to Co-operate with the Trades Delegates to carry the above Resilutions into effect.

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