Between 1921 and 1937 there were two competing international co-ordinating bodies for trade unions - one Communist, the other democratic socialist. The International Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) was founded in 1901, broke down during the First World War, and was re-formed in 1919 (as its headquarters were in Amsterdam, it was also known as the Amsterdam International). Democratic socialist organisations, such as the British Trades Union Congress, were represented on this organisation. Communists in the Soviet Union condemned the ITFU as a nest of reformists and class traitors, branding it the 'Yellow International', and in 1921 formally established the Red International of Labour Unions (or Profintern) to co-ordinate Communist activities in trade unions across the world. In Britain the National Minority Movement (a Communist organisation) was formed in 1924 to work within the British trade union movement and replace 'reformist' trade union leaders with revolutionaries.
In 1924 a delegation from the British Trades Union Congress visited Soviet Russia and attended the Congress of the All-Russian Central Council of Trade Unions. As a result of this visit, the TUC agreed to try to improve relations between the IFTU and the RILU and the Anglo-Russian Joint Advisory Council was formed in 1925. The TUC's attempts to bring the two Internationals together failed, due to a combination of the hostility of other IFTU members to the Communists and the tendency of Communist organisations to attack the IFTU as betrayers of the working class in a range of publications and speeches.
Disagreements over the conduct of the British General Strike of May 1926 - in particular the TUC's refusal to accept financial aid from Soviet trade unions and stoppage of the strike before demands had been met - led to increasingly antagonistic meetings of the Anglo-Russian Joint Advisory Council, and in 1927 the ARJAC finally collapsed, amidst mutual recrimination. A successor, the Anglo-Russian Trade Union Council, was formed during the Second World War.
The Trades Union Congress and Communism at home:
- Statement on organisation and policy, Red International of Labour Unions London Committee, 1921. Outline of the objectives of the RILU in Britain, written by Harry Pollitt.
- Manifesto to the delegates of the Trades Union Congress from the British Bureau of the Red Trade Union International, [1921?]. It attacks the TUC as bureaucratic, dull and inadequate.
- International Trade Union Unity, March 1924. Communist Party of Great Britain pamphlet. It describes trade union unity as "the answer to the capitalists' mad race to drive the workers into deeper and deeper poverty", and attacks the International Federation of Trade Unions and the "treachery of the reformist trade union leaders, their betrayal of the workers during the war, and their policies of class truce".
- Important conference to promote international trade union unity, December 1924. Circular produced by the National Minority Movement, welcoming the formation of an Anglo-Russian trade union unity committee, and announcing a conference to be held in January 1925.
- 'British "Reds": Rebuff by Congress Council', December 1924. The Times report of the refusal of the Trades Union Congress General Council to send representatives to the National Minority Movement conference.
- The Minority Movement, special supplement to the Workers' Weekly, December 1924. The supplement to the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Great Britain includes a report on the Russian Trade Union Congress and welcomes the "bold and dramatic step towards the unity of the world workers' movement" taken by the Russian and British trade union movements.
- The Minority Movement, special supplement to the Workers' Weekly, January 1925. The follow-up supplement, headlined 'Forge the weapon of unity', simultaneously welcomes the TUC General Council's proposals for international trade union unity and attacks the International Federation of Trade Unions.
- Programme of the National Minority Movement unity conference, held at Battersea Town Hall, 25 January 1925.
- What the Minority Movement stands for, 1925. This pamphlet outlines the principles of the National Minority Movement and attacks the right-wing trade union leaders.
- The "Minority" Octopus, August 1925. Red Conspiracy Leaflet no.2, attacking the work of the National Minority Movement in the trade unions.
- How the Reds gain control of the Unions, September 1925. Red Conspiracy Leaflet no.3, continuing the attack on the work of the National Minority Movement.
- Report of the National Conference of the Friends of Soviet Russia, 1928. The founding conference of the Friends of Soviet Russia, held in Poplar, London, included many trade union delegates and was highly critical of the Trades Union Congress General Council's break with the Soviet Union.
The Trades Union Congress and Anglo-Soviet trade union relations:
- Trades Union Congress and Russia. Summary of resolutions on Russia passed by the TUC between 1917-1925.
- Report of reception with Russian delegates at Gatti's restaurant, London, May 1924. The meeting saw leading members of the British and Soviet trade union movements, including A.A. Purcell and Mikhail Tomsky, discuss conditions in the Soviet Union and the proposed trade agreement between the two governments. It concluded with the British attendees expressing a wish "that this meeting might be the commencement of a connecting link between the British Trade Union Movement and Russia". A report of a meeting of the Soviet delegation with the Industrial Group of Labour Members of Parliament is also available.
- Relations with Russia: a speech in favour of international trade union unity delivered by Fred Bramley, 1925. Fred Bramley was General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress until his death in 1925, and had visited the Soviet Union with the TUC delegation in 1924.
- International trade union unity: special supplement to the Monthly Circular of the Labour Research Department, 1925. The supplement includes reports on the TUC's campaign to improve relations between the International Federation of Trade Unions and the Red International of Labour Unions.
- Russia and international unity: report of meeting of General Council of International Federation of Trade Unions on 5-7 February 1925. The report records the unenthusiastic reception given by many members of the General Council to the TUC's suggestion that they should hold a conference with members of the Soviet International, and includes reproductions of correspondence between the IFTU and RILU.
- Russia and international unity: report of Anglo-Russian Conference held on 6-8 April 1925. Report of the conference which resulted in the formation of the Anglo-Russian Joint Advisory Council, published by the Trades Union Congress.
- Minutes of the first meeting of the Anglo-Russian Joint Advisory Council, London, 17 September 1925. The meeting established procedure and heard congratulatory telegrams from several other national trade union organisations.
- Letter to Fred Bramley from Mikhail Tomsky, 19 September 1925. The Soviet trade union leader pays fulsome tribute to the General Secretary of the TUC, and expresses grief over a disagreement over procedure at the first meeting of the Anglo-Russian Joint Advisory Council (not mentioned in the minutes).
- Report on plenary session of the Moscow Provincial Council of Labour Unions, October 1925. The meeting was attended by Walter Citrine, acting General Secretary of the TUC, and paid tribute to Fred Bramley, the recently deceased TUC General Secretary.
- Daily Herald Soviet Trade Union Supplement, November 1925. Illustrated supplement which includes articles on the Soviet trade union movement by leading Soviet trade unionists and an editorial on 'British and Russian trade unions'. The Daily Herald newspaper was funded by the Trades Union Congress.
- Draft report of meeting of the General Council of the International Federation of Trade Unions on 4-5 December 1925. It includes a report of the debate over relations with Russia.
- Minutes of the second meeting of the Anglo-Russian Joint Advisory Council, Berlin, 8-9 December 1925. It includes a response to the IFTU's rejection of a "proposal for a preliminary and unconditional conference with the All-Russian Council of Trade Unions on the question of the participation of the Russian trade union movement in international trade union organisation".
- Contributions to the relief fund for the British miners, May-November 1926. Statistical data relating to money raised for the striking miners in the Soviet Union.
- Red Money: a statement of the facts relating to the money raised in Russia during the General Strike and mining lock-out in Britain, October 1926. Pamphlet prepared by the All-Russian Council of Trade Unions and published in the UK by the Labour Research Department.
- Statement made by Walter Citrine, Trades Union Congress General Secretary, to Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister, about the TUC's non-acceptance of Soviet financial aid, June 1926.
- Reports of the third and fourth meetings of the Anglo-Russian Joint Advisory Council, held in Paris and Berlin on 30-31 July and 23-25 August 1926. The conduct of the British General Strike, and the Soviet response, was the main topic at the ARJAC meetings. Typescript copies of the minutes are also available (July 1926, August 1926).
- Published correspondence between the All-Russian Central Council of Trade Unions and the TUC, September 1926.
- British and Russian workers by A. Lozovsky, 1926. Pamphlet written by the General Secretary of the Red International of Labour Unions and published by the National Minority Movement. It puts forward the Soviet view of the origins and work of the Anglo-Russian Joint Advisory Council, and attacks the TUC for their conduct during the General Strike.
- Correspondence and photographs relating to the 1926 visit of Percy Collick, railwayman, to the Soviet Union, 1925-1927. The collection includes letters from Soviet trade union officials after the General Strike, condemning the Trades Union Congress and asking for information on the rank and file response to the TUC's actions.
- Minutes of the fifth meeting of the Anglo-Russian Joint Advisory Council, Berlin, 29 March-1 April 1927.
- Letter for the Trades Union Congress from the All-Russian Council of Trade Unions, 3 June 1927. It calls for the Anglo-Russian Joint Advisory Committee to act following the British government's break of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.
- Report of meeting between representatives of the General Council of the Trades Union Congress and the All-Russian Council of Trade Unions, 18-19 June 1927. The meeting was called to discuss proposals for the Anglo-Russian Joint Advisory Committee to meet again as "Russia was almost already in a state of war, because of the cumulative effect of the breaking off of relations with Great Britain; the bombing outrages in Leningrad; the attempts to blow up munition centres; and the assassination of M. Voikov, in Poland". It didn't.
- Trades Union Congress draft statement on relations between the TUC General Council and the All-Russian Council of Trade Unions, July 1927. The All-Russian Council of Trade Unions also sent a declaration regarding the Anglo-Russian Joint Advisory Council in July.
- Newspaper articles about the breakdown in relations between the Trades Union Congress and All-Russian Council of Trade Unions, June-July 1927.
- Letter for the Trades Union Congress from the All-Russian Council of Trade Unions, 30 August 1927. As well as attacking the "betrayal" of the General Strike, the letter includes the accusation that, following the ARCOS raid, the TUC General Council were "preparing to break up the Anglo-Russian Joint Advisory Committee in order to assist the Conservative Government to continue its military preparations [against the USSR] unhampered".
- Anglo-Russian Joint Advisory Council supplementary statement, September 1927. Reproduction of correspondence, etc., from August-September 1927 which relates to the ARJAC. It was published for the annual Congress of the TUC.
- Telegram for the Trades Union Congress from the All-Russian Central Council of Trade Unions, September 1927. Fraternal addresses from overseas trade union organisations were sent to be read out at the annual Congress. The Soviet contribution in 1927 was an extensive attack on the TUC General Council as class traitors and "lackeys of capitalism".
- Summarised history of Anglo-Russian Joint Advisory Council. Summary of the establishment, development and end of the Council, compiled by the Trades Union Congress in 1936.