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The 'Union'
A Brief History of the National Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives

By Jack Tear, a retired officer

(for an exhibition on behalf of the Amenities Society, at Rushden Heritage Centre)

National Union of Boot and Soe Rivetters and Finishers


National Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives (NUBSO)


National Union of the Footwear, Leather and Allied Trades (NUFLAT)


National Union of Knitwear, Footwear and Apparel Trades (KFAT)

The Higham and Rushden branch of the Footwear Union was founded in the Swan Public House in High Street, Higham Ferrers, where the first union meetings took place.

Later, the main office was at the Trade Union Club and then in purpose built offices at the junction of Higham Road and Hayway.

Over the years the Union has negotiated the reduction of the working week from 56 hours to 39 hours.

A guaranteed wage of 75% of average earnings.

Holidays totalling 31 days per year at full average earnings.

Agreement making overtime payment progressively higher. First 4 hours at 1¼ average earnings, 5 to 8 hours 1½ average earnings — all in excess of 8 hours overtime paid at double rate. Sunday working absolutely forbidden.

A free "death in service" scheme providing a benefit payment of £2,000.00. for an employee dying, up to 65 years of age. Qualification — just one year's service with the employer.

Offers free convalescent facilities for members recovering from illness, and free legal aid to member claiming damages for accidents causing injuries at work or in the street.

Offers free education courses including all expenses paid, full time scholarship courses at Ruskin College.

Union officers are always available to visit factories to try to rectify problems between union members and factory management.

Union officers also represent members appearing before industrial tribunals.

The Industry's minimum wage is £120.00 for a 39 hour week, but most operatives are piece workers and average earnings are way above the minimum. Wages double the minimum are quite common.

The whole board for display
50 year certifcate
The prepared display certificate
On February 1st 1980 Jack Tear was made an Honorary Life Member in recognition of Fifty Years Continuous Membership of this Union.

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