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HUGH CLEGG - OBITUARY

 
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Greg Bamber g.bamber@q...
Sat Jan 27 13:43:20 NZDT 1996


The following anon. obit. might be of interest?
Regards 
Greg Bamber

The Times, UK, 13 Dec 95: PROFESSOR HUGH CLEGG - OBITUARY. 
Hugh Clegg, Professor of Industrial Relations at Warwick University,
1967-79, died on December 9 aged 75. He was born on May 22, 1920.
A PIONEER in the academic study of industrial relations, Hugh Clegg was
also, for a dozen years before 1979, a dominant contributor to government
wages policy. In the second sphere he is particularly remembered for his
chairmanship of two bodies, the Civil Service Arbitration Tribunal in
1968-71, and the Standing Commission on Pay Comparability (known as the
Clegg Commission) in 1979-80; in both cases he was appointed by a Labour
Government and given his marching orders (in the second case along with the
whole commission, but only after its recommendations had been accepted) by a
succeeding Conservative administration.
Clegg will also be remembered for the remarkable minority report he prepared
as a member of the Donovan Royal Commission on Trade Unions and Employers'
Associations, which sat from 1965 to 1968. His input was so influential that
in the end it swung the whole thrust of the Donovan Commission's massive
report away from the much-favoured notion of legal regulation in the
direction of reform by agreement of the system of collective bargaining much
to the later chagrin of Barbara Castle when she came the following year to
produce her famous White Paper In Place of Strife.
In the academic sphere, amid numerous contributions to the literature of
labour relations, his A History of British Trade Unions (Vol I with A.Fox
and A.F.Thompson, 1964; Vol II, 1985; Vol III, 1994) is pre-eminent in its
field. As a scholar, Clegg was essentially pragmatic, a methodical
accumulator of detail, and he made the generalisations of an historian
rather than the conceptual leaps of a theoretician. He had a talent for
deflating pomposities from either Left or Right a quality which earned him
the trust of many managers and most trade unionists and was wholly without
pretension in his own work.
Any tendency to the cautious and prosaic was balanced by a devastating
clarity when he had made up his mind about the facts of a situation. A
typical example, which brought him to early notice, was the little book he
wrote with R.Adams about the shipbuilding and engineering dispute of 1957
under the title The Employers' Challenge. As a lecturer he tended to plod,
but he was an excellent tutor and an infinitely patient and amusing chairman.
Some of his best seminars were after hours over a pint of beer. When he
eventually gave up table tennis for long walks, his total recall and
uncompromising judgments took his guests' breath away almost as much as his
brisk stride.
The son of a clergyman, Hugh Armstrong Clegg was educated as Kingswood
School, Bath, and Magdalen College, Oxford, a career punctuated by five
years in the Army during the Second World War. He once commented that the
most important thing he learnt in the Army, and one that helped to
illuminate his later work in industrial relations, was "the effective
pattern of activity that officially did not exist". He was naturally
attracted to the study of such large and relatively unrecorded bodies as
trade unions.
He became a Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford, in 1949, and a year later
published Labour Relations in London Transport, which remains a highly
readable account of the interplay of employment and politics. In 1964 there
appeared the first volume of A History of British Trade Unionism, and in
1967 he was appointed first Professor of Industrial Relations at the new
University of Warwick.
Between Nuffield and Warwick Clegg served a year as a full-time member of
the Prices and Incomes Board, established by the Wilson Government, and a
couple of years later was appointed chairman of the Civil Service
Arbitration Tribunal. In 1970, after the Conservatives returned to power, he
was the trade union nominee on the inquiry into council workers' pay under
Sir Jack Scamp, who settled the "dirty jobs strike" with an award that
infuriated the Prime Minister, Edward Heath; he was accused by Harold Wilson
of "government by vendetta" when he refused to re-appoint Clegg to the
tribunal on the ground that he was not impartial.
Clegg was unperturbed, and with the return of the Labour Government served
on the council of the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service and was
appointed chairman of the Standing Commission on Pay Comparability in the
last days of the Labour Government, in 1979. It was in the course of his
work on comparability that there occurred what was unfairly called "the
Clegg mistake", when an error originating in the Civil Service led to
excessive pay awards to teachers. The incident led to an investigation by
Sir Alan Marre, who refused to apportion blame at which Clegg commented: "No
shop steward would get away with that one." The incoming Conservative
Government of Margaret Thatcher, which had pledged itself during the
election campaign to accept the awards, felt obliged to honour them, but
ensured that the commission was abolished not long afterwards.
During his period out of official favour, Clegg had built up the SSRC
research unit at Warwick. He gave up its direction in 1974, and in 1979
retired from his chair to give time particularly to complete the History,
the second volume of which was published in 1985 and the third, finally,
last year. The System of Industrial Relations in Great Britain (1970) was
succeeded by The Changing System in 1979. Colleagues wedded to their
preconceptions were, sometimes understandably, apt to consider his analyses
over-flexible.
He married Mary Matilda Shaw in 1941 and is survived by her and their two
sons and two daughters.
THE TIMES



Best wishes
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