The so-called Whitley Councils system was envisioned as a means of working out agreements on wages, working conditions, adjustment of grievances, and all other matters of concern to industry Those involved in reconstruction planning saw the councils as an essential means of achieving their main postwar objectives: the twin goals of industrial peace and increased output.
The Whitley Committee made it clear that the system of joint council s it was recommending was to be based on the complete cooperation of existing organizations of workers and employers and that Whitley Councils "should be composed only of representatives of Trade Unions and Employers' Associations [emphasis added]" already in existence.
The Whitley Councils scheme attracted a good deal of attention in the United States.
Although the system developed in the American needle trades put more emphasis on dispute settlement than did the Whitley Councils scheme and, consequently, utilized full-time, salaried, impartial experts to chair the joint conferences that were set up, it too was predicated on a "positive-sum vision of collective bargaining" in which rationalized production techniques were to go hand-in-hand with more stable wages and profits.
In three of Britain's most important industries, coal, railways, and transport, no Whitley Councils were even established.
In a proposal resembling the British Whitley Councils plan, the AFLdominated Labor delegation called for each of the nation's industries to create a "national conference board" on which "the organized workers and associated employers" would be equally represented.
Efforts to form Whitley Councils proved to be disappointing, as most industries, including mining and engineering, failed to establish any joint councils at all.