Identity Statement for Irish Shoe and Leather Workers' Union

  • Reference code: IE UCDA TU7
  • Title: Records of the Irish Shoe and Leather Workers' Union
  • Dates: 1900-1977
  • Level of description: Fonds
  • Extent: 31 boxes
  • Context
  • Content and Structure
  • Conditions of Access and Use

Institutional History

This collection contains not only the records of the Irish Shoe and Leather Workers' Union (ISLWU) but also a substantial body of material originating from its predecessor, the British-based National Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives (NUBSO). 

The NUBSO began the organisation of operatives in the footwear industry in Ireland as early as 1885 in Cork, but it was not until rapid expansion of the Irish industry in the early 1930s that attention was focused on Irish membership. This expansion in the workforce meant that repeated visits to Ireland by the union national organiser to ease the workload of the two Irish area officers were a necessity. Membership increased from 378 in 1932 to 4,224 in 1937. This lead to the reorganisation of the Irish branches and the introduction of a third Irish area officer. 

In 1941, due to war time restrictions and changes in Irish trade union legislation, there was a move towards establishing a separate Irish boot and shoe union. However due to shortage of raw materials and the threat of unemployment, the idea of independence was postponed. The idea was raised again at the 1949 delegate conference and the Irish delegates decided to explore with their members the possibility of establishing an Irish-based union. The executive council would have rathered see their members establish an independent union than join one of the Irish general union, a generous subvention from the NUBSO towards establishing the ISLWU reflects this. When members were put to a ballot, southern members voted 2:1 in favour of an

Irish union while northern members voted overwhelmingly against the move. Because of this, the executive council decided to retain the Northern Irish membership within NUBSO and to support the establishment of a 26 county Irish union.

With the dwindling of membership caused by redundancies, consequent loss of income and inflation, the possibility of an amalgamation was considered in 1971. Subsequent measures, such as reorganisation of union administration and finances, halted further decline and put the idea of amalgamation on hold. However in 1977 a ballot vote by members was in favour of amalgamation with the Irish Transport and General Workers'

Union (ITGWU) and the creation of the Shoe and Leather and Allied Trades Group within the union.      

Archival History

This collection was deposited in UCD Archives in September 1977.

Scope and Content

Administration records: organisation and membership; constitution, registry of members, bye-laws, annual returns, minutes, reports, conference proceedings, national agreements.

Financial records: half-yearly and yearly statements, accounts, benefit registers.


  • Access: Available by appointment to holders of a UCD Archives reader's ticket. Produced for consultation in original format. Original material will be retrieved at 11am and 2pm only.  
  • Language: English
  • Finding aid: Descriptive catalogue
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