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International Federation of Textile Workers' Associations

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The International Federation of Textile Workers' Association (IFTWA) was a global union federation bringing together unions of textile workers, principally in Europe.


The federation's origins lay in the International Textile Congress, held in Manchester, in England, in 1894. The congress was organised on the initiative of James Mawdsley and David Holmes, and of the 179,000 workers represented, 150,000 were covered by the British unions. Other representatives came from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and the United States. The European delegates pushed a more socialist approach, focusing on political action. The congress agreed to establish an international organisation, and to campaign for a maximum eight-hour working day.[1]

For the first few years, the federation did little beyond organise further conferences. The European delegates argued unsuccessfully for the creation of an international strike fund, and successfully for the appointment of a general secretary to organise action. William Marsland was appointed in 1905, and initially proved successful, learning French and publishing a quarterly newsletter. However, his decision to publish an obituary for Edward VII proved highly controversial, and he stood down, to be replaced by Tom Shaw.[1]

The organisation became inactive during World War I, but was re-established in 1920, and affiliated to the International Federation of Trade Unions. Reductions in the working week were achieved over the next few years, and the federation agreed to establish a full-time secretariat, to be based in Manchester. James Bell was appointed as general secretary, but after a year was replaced by Shaw. Shaw was in government between 1929 and 1931, but continued on an unpaid basis, and then resumed the full-time position.[1]

Under Shaw's leadership, the federation investigated working conditions in India and China, and made some limited efforts to encourage trade unionism in India. An international 40-hour working week was agreed by the International Labour Organization, but never enacted, due to the outbreak of World War II.[1] After the war, James Stott led successful efforts to reconstruct the federation.[2]

In 1960, the federation merged with the International Garment Workers' Federation, forming the International Textile and Garment Workers' Federation.[3]


In 1954, the following unions were affiliated to the federation:[4]

Union Country Affiliated membership
All India Federation of Textile Unions India 90,000
Danish Textile Workers' Union Denmark 26,299
General Industrial Union of Textiles and Clothing Netherlands 10,110
Italian Federation of Textile Workers Italy 200,000
Japan Federation of Textile Workers' Unions Japan 200,000
National Federation of Textiles France 18,000
National Textile Workers' Union Italy 20,000
National Union of Dyers, Bleachers and Textile Workers United Kingdom 74,000
Norwegian Union of Textile Workers Norway 11,879
Pakistan Textile Workers' Federation Pakistan 20,000
Swedish Textile Workers' Union Sweden 44,239
Textile and Clothing Union West Germany 275,000
Textile and Knitting Workers' Union Finland 6,000
Textile Workers Union of America United States 264,000
Union of Belgian Textile Workers Belgium 65,190
Union of Textile, Clothing and Leather Workers Austria 65,000
Union of Textile and Factory Workers Switzerland 12,000
United Textile Factory Workers' Association United Kingdom 172,770

General Secretaries

1893: James Mawdsley[5]
1895: Ferdinand Hardijns[5]
1897: William Henry Wilkinson[5]
1905: William Marsland[5]
1911: Tom Shaw[5]
1924: James Bell[5]
1925: Tom Shaw[5]
1938: Arthur Shaw (acting)[5]
1939: James Stott[5]
1949: Jack Greenhalgh[5]


  1. ^ a b c d Fowler, Alan (2018). Lancashire Cotton Operatives and Work, 1900-1950. Routledge. ISBN 1351753207.
  2. ^ "Obituary". Bulletin of the International Federation of Textile Workers' Associations. 1957.
  3. ^ "International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation (ITGLWF)". Union of International Associations. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  4. ^ Mitchell, James P. (1954). Directory of International Trade Union Organisations. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Labor. pp. 135–139.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Yearbook of the International Free Trade Union Movement. London: Lincolns-Prager. 1957–1958. pp. 577–578.
This page was last edited on 8 November 2021, at 02:43
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