Amalgamated Union of Operative Bakers and Confectioners

Badge of the Amalgamated Union of Operative Bakers and Confectioners   




Badge of the Amalgamated Union of Operative Bakers and Confectioners.

Today’s Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union is one of the oldest trade unions in continuous existence. Founded in Manchester, its roots go back to the middle years of the 19 th century.

Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries the union was never more than a few thousand strong and suffered a number of problems in organising on behalf of its members, who worked long hours, in bad conditions and for low pay. The union was highly localised, and did not hold its first national delegate conference until 1910, master bakers were not excluded from membership until 1935, and as late as 1937, no more than 16% of bakers were in membership.

The name change to the Amalgamated Union of Operative Bakers, Confectioners and Allied Workers of Great Britain in Ireland took place in 1914, but lasted barely a decade until, in 1925, it dropped the words “…of Great Britain and Ireland” from the title. 

In 1964, the name changed once again to the Bakers Union before being expanded later to the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union. It currently has more than 23,000 members.

Website of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union.

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National Agricultural Labourers and Rural Workers Union

Badge of the National Agricultural Labourers and Rural Workers Union.

It had always been hard to organise farm workers, with early victories for the National Agricultural Labourers’ Union (formed 1872) turned into later defeats as much by the effect of bad harvests and migration from the country to the city as by employer lockouts.

However, in 1906, the Eastern Counties Agricultural Labourers and Smallholders Union was formed with George Edwards, a veteran of earlier farmworkers’ unions, as general secretary and George Nicholls, a Liberal MP, as president.

By 1910 it had recruited some 10,000 members by focusing on individual disputes and providing legal assistance for members in trouble. In 1912, the union had built sufficient confidence to become the National Agricultural Labourers and Rural Workers Union. The badge shown here dates from that period.

This new identity brought in carters, roadmen, gardeners navvies and others alongside the union’s core of farm workers. For the first time, women were also to be admitted.

By the time the union changed its name again in 1920, it had 180,000 members. It continued to operate as the National Union of Agricultural Workers (from 1968 the National Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers) until 1981, when it merged with the Transport and General Workers Union.

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TUC UnionReps badge 2008

TUC Union Reps badge
TUC Union Reps badge

The TUC has produced a badge for trade union reps who sign up for its new UnionReps website.

The badge was produced in spring 2008 with a limited run, and is currently available only to union activists who sign up to the online community site and request it, although a few have been handed out at TUC fringe meetings.

The badge is not currently available through the TUC shop.

The UnionReps site is built by reps and for reps, with lots of people putting in some serious effort to help out their fellow reps (and get helped in return). The network is very active, but it still only has maybe 5% or 6% of the reps who are out there. The badge aims to give reps a thank you for all the hard work they put into the site, letting them identify themselves as online reps if they want, and helping to advertise membership of the network to other reps.

The UnionReps badge is 30mm x 20mm, chrome/orange, with the TUC logo and the text “UNIONREPS.ORG.UK” on the front, and the name of the manufacturer, Badges Plus, on the reverse.

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TUC 2008 – the new badge

TUC 2008 delegates badge.

TUC 2008 delegates badge.

This is the badge issued by the TUC to delegates to the 2008 Congress, which took place in the Brighton Centre from 8 to 11 September.

The badge is 35mm x 35mm square, chrome/cream, with the TUC logo and the words “Fair pay for all” picked out of the chrome background in red. On the white rectangle are the words “Dave Prentis, President, Congress 2008, Brighton”.

The reverse has the name of the manufacturer, Badges Plus, and the telephone number     0121 236 1612    .

There is further information about Congress 2008 on the TUC website.

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NUR Orphan Fund

Fund raising flags

Fund raising flags

In 1875 leaders of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants were deeply concerned about the number of fatalities amongst their members in the course of their duties. They were also worried about the prospects of the children left behind as a result of the deaths of their fathers at work. The union decided to contribute £3,000 from its funds to set up a Railway Orphanage in Derby and initially the orphanage was maintained by voluntary contributions of the ASRS membership.

The Derby orphanage policy was to take individual orphans from their families, board them and provide their education until they reached working age. However in 1879 the union felt that it would be far better to keep families intact and give support to the mother on behalf of each child.

The ASRS decided to cut its ties with the orphanage and set up an Orphan Fund. A halfpenny each week was set aside from the contributions of every union member and union activists also began fund raising to boost the amount of money available to the widows. Both the NUR and the RMT have followed in that tradition, only the amount of money involved has changed.

Fundraising flags - reverse side.

Originally the union only made payments to the mother when their husbands were killed on duty but in 1883 the ASRS decided to include the families of all its members who died including those who had died of natural causes. In 1928 the NUR had 6,052 children on its books and 50 years later despite the rundown of the railways and a much lower membership was still responsible for more than a thousand children. Each branch of the union was responsible for its own “orphans” and branch secretaries had the task of visiting families and handing over the money they had received from head office.


"Help" the railway dog raised more than £1,000.

One of the very early methods of fund raising arranged by branches was the “meat tea” and the record attendance for one of these occasions was held by the Middlesborough Branch which managed to attract 1,717 people to the crypt of the Town Hall in 1897. Whist drives, rummage sales, concerts, football and cricket matches, flower days, socials and dances were all popular ways to boost the funds in the early days. The dog “Help” owned by a guard managed to collect over £1,000 from passengers between 1882 and 1889. Less well known was a monkey called Jacko a “member” of West Brompton Branch which was used to raise funds in 1894. Sponsored runs, raffles, car boot sales and the proceeds of fruit machines are more recent fundraising methods.

Money however came and still comes from all kind of directions, including the wills of sympathisers, strike pay donations and gifts from individual members. An interesting example is a donation in 1982 of £1528.19 from the Hull Railwaymen’s Silver Band, which ceased to exist in that year. The last two members of the band passed over the remaining band funds to the NUR Orphan Fund.

NUR silver badge

Badges have played a part over the years in helping to boost the fund. Orphan Fund Medallions in silver and gold were produced to be presented to members who were considered to have done exceptional work on behalf of the orphans. Silver and gold brooches were produced for women. The NUR Women’s Guild played a very prominent role in arranging fund raising events, outings and parties for children. The London Orphan Fund Committee have used a variety of badges to great effect to raise money and still sell them today. They also produced a button badge for identification purposes to be worn on their annual outings. In 2004 the London Committee took its youngsters to Skegness for their annual outing and held a Christmas party for them in the capital.

NUR gold badge

NUR gold badge

At some stage in the funds history an Orphan Fund Challenge Cup was introduced to be presented by the General Secretary each year to the branch raising the most money, and over the years there has been great competition between branches of the union in the annual bid to win the trophy. In 1968 to celebrate the TUCs Centenary at Belle Vue, Manchester, models of 1869 locomotives were made in the railway workshops and were manned by local orphan boys dressed in driver and firemen uniforms of the period. The young ‘locomen’ also took part in TUC celebrations in London and the TUC Cavalcade in Blackpool later that year.

RMT London Orphans Fund badge

RMT London Orphans Fund badge

Attitudes have changed and certainly the rules covering the orphan fund have change since its inception. In the early years a mother could be disqualified from benefits “for misconduct” and children “born out of wedlock” were not covered by the fund. Happily those sanctions were withdrawn many many years ago and all members or their partners who are parents of young children and lose their spouses are still assisted by the union in a tradition that has lasted over 130 years.

National Guild of Telephonists

Night and day

Badge of the National Guild of Telephonists

Badge of the National Guild of Telephonists

The National Guild of Telephonists was formed on 5 March 1928 as a breakaway from the Union of Post Office Workers (UPW).

In 1927 a large number of night telephonists began with holding their subscriptions from the UPW. These members demanded the right to handle their own negotiations and wanted to form a separate branch in the General Post Office. The UPW agreed a separate branch but not separate negotiations. The telephonists decided to withdraw from the UPW and formed the National Guild of Telephonists.

The members persuaded their representative on the UPW Executive Council, Edgar Lansbury (who was the nephew of Labour politician George Lansbury) to leave the UPW as well.

The NGT joined together with other breakaway post office unions in the National Federation of Post & Telegraph Clerks.

In 1928 the NGT secured recognition for night telephonists in London where they had 1,000 members. A year later they gained national recognition jointly with the UPW and in 1934 recognition in Northern Ireland.

Throughout its existence the NGT failed to obtain recognition for its women members even though, up until the 1950s it had more women members than the UPW.

Lansbury, who was a Guild Socialist and a strong supporter of strike action was appointed London Secretary and in 1945 General Secretary. The NGT was different to the majority of breakaway unions because in Lansbury they had a capable officer who was more left wing than most of the leaders of TUC unions. Most of the other breakaways were “non-political” or right wing.

Although the NGT never had more than 12,000 members it successfully ran its own insurance scheme, sick fund, mutual aid fund and education courses for branch officers.

The Post Office attempted to rationalise the number and structure of the trade unions it negotiated with and encouraged conciliation and merger between the unions. In 1960 the UPW offered the NGT merger on the basis of separate branches, separate voting at a sectional conference and employment of NGT officers. The NGT refused the offer.

The UPW tried again in 1969 by offering the previous deal plus two seats on the UPW reserved for telephonists and the employment of the NGT General Secretary as UPW Assistant Secretary. The NGT leadership recommended acceptance, however the membership voted a year later to reject the deal by 2 to 1.

The Post Office then decided to derecognise the weakened union.

Badge of the Telecommunications Staff Association

Badge of the Telecommunications Staff Association

The NGT responded by changing its name to the Telecommunications Staff Association (TSA) so broadening its potential membership base.

Using the 1971 Industrial Relations Act the TSA pursued recognition through the courts until 1974 when it lost the case.

In 1978 the TSA transferred its engagements to the Engineering and Electrical Staff Association, the white collar section of the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union (EETPU).

Union of Railway Signalmen

Safe passage for the railway traveller

Badge of the Union of Railway Signalmen

In the aftermath of the 1924 rail strike acrimony existed between the National Union of Railwaymen (NUR) and the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) and within the NUR itself.

The National Signalmen’s Movement, a pressure group within the NUR, were unhappy with the pay deals achieved by the NUR for signalmen. A.E. Rochester, a NUR signalman, sent an article critical of the NUR leadership to the NUR journal ’Railway Review’. The journal refused to publish it, so Rochester took the article to ASLEF General Secretary John Bromley who made money available to publish the article as a leaflet. The NUR responded by threatening Rochester with legal action and ordering him to appear before the Executive Council.

George Richards, a prominent member of the National Signalmen’s Movement, met the ASLEF General Secretary and was told ASLEF would loan a substantial amount of money to any signalmen who decided to form a breakaway union.

Thirteen men met at the home of a Mr Charles Breton and formed the Union of Railway Signalmen (URS). The URS received £1,000 from ASLEF followed by a further £2,000.

The National Signalmen’s Movement issued a manifesto proclaiming loyalty to the NUR and condemning sectional unionism. Support for the URS was so poor that by 1925 it could only claim 250 signalmen out of all the signalmen in the country.

The NUR continued to represent the vast majority of signalmen and in 1931, probably in response to the URS, introduced national signalmen’s conference.

In 1945 a Charles Holloway formed the Federation of Power Signalmen, which due to the fact that it could only attract 30 of the 1500 power signalmen in the London area was very short lived.

Holloway later surfaced as General Secretary of the URS.

The URS membership hit an all time high of 8333 in 1950 organised in to 180 branches or 32% of all signalmen. The URS declined after that, 3690 in 87 branches in 1960 and 2075 in 16 branches in 1970.

In 1970 a closed shop was introduced in British Rail and all signalmen were required to be members of the NUR. URS membership fell to 150 by 1973, even though there was no reason signalmen could be members of both unions.

Like many breakaway unions the URS acted partly as a home for those signalmen who wanted to avoid strike action. The URS membership climbed to 220 half of who had joined during the signalmen’s strike of 1974. Membership dropped to 70 in 1975 and to 18 a year later.

The last return lodged with the Registrar General of Trade Unions and Employers Associations was in 1978 when the membership was four.

In May 1979 Charles Holloway, the URS General Secretary for the previous 10 years, died and the URS died with him.The NUR later received a cheque for £6.60 from the Co-operative Bank. The bank, unable to contact the URS had closed the URS account and forwarded the cheque to the NUR. The NUR sent the cheque to the URS’s auditors and the Union of Railway Signalmen was no more.