Ship Constructors and Shipwrights Association

Badge of the Ship Constructors and Shipwrights Association.  

Badge of the Ship Constructors and Shipwrights Association.

As shipbuilding made the switch from wood to iron and sail to steam, the old established shipwrights’ associations found themselves a minority union behind the United Society of Boilermakers and Iron and Steel Shipbuilders.

Their answer was to federate, and in the decade from 1872 onwards an Associated Society of Shipwrights largely succeeded in bringing together most of the local and specialised societies under a single banner.

But despite growing rapidly in private dockyards and establishing a 48-hour week for its members in 1894, the society proved unable to win recognition in the naval dockyards, where a separate Ship Constructive Association was formed.

Between 1900 and 1910 the Associated Society succeeded in consolidating union organisation further by absorbing local organisations in Newport, Gloucester and on the Wear – and taking over smaller national bodies, including the Ship Constructive Association.
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Amalgamated Society of Woodcutting Machinists

ASWS badge.

Amalgamated Society of Woodcutting Machinists badge.

The Amalgamated Society of Woodcutting Machinists took its name in 1877, having grown out of the Birmingham and District Mill Sawyers and Planing Machine Workers Trade Society.

The Birmingham society had been founded in 1866 by a group of 80 sawyers. By the time it changed its name, it had more than 250 members, and by the end of the century it had grown large enough – partly through absorbing other local societies – to appoint its first full-time secretary.

By the turn of the century the union had changed its name once again, becoming the Amalgamated Society of Mill Sawyers and Woodcutting Machinists. The name would be changed back again within a few years, and after 1919 settled into the form of words shown on the badge pictured here.

In 1971, the society merged with the National Union of Furniture Trade Operatives to form the Furniture, Timber and Allied Trades Union (FTAT). FTAT itself merged with the GMB in 1993.

Dock, Wharf, Riverside and General Labourers Union

A badge of the Dock, Wharf, Riverside and General Labourers Union. 
 A badge of the Dock, Wharf,
Riverside and General
Labourers Union.

More commonly known simply as the Dockers Union, the Dock, Wharf, Riverside and General Labourers Union was originally formed in 1887 as the Tea Operatives and General Labourers Union.

The union recruited 2,300 members by the end of 1888, and in 1889 became involved in the Great Dock Strike which brought the Port of London to a halt. The dispute won widespread public support for the dockers, and achieved its aim of establishing a rate of 6d an hour.

In the wake of the strike, the union changed its name and membership grew rapidly to 30,932 by the end of 1889, and to 57,000 by the end of 1890. However, a dispute between dockworkers north and south of the Thames also led to the creation of a separate South Side Labour Protection League.

With the dockers split, and many remaining outside any union, by 1904, the Dockers Union had almost disappeared in London. It remained strong elsewhere in the countryhowever, and in 1922, the Dockers Union was one of 14 organisations which merged to form the Transport and General Workers Union.

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Association of Women Clerical Staff

Badge of the Association of Women Clerical Staff.

Badge of the Association of Women Clerical Staff.

Founded in April 1903 with just 64 members, and originally known as the Association of Shorthand Writers and Typists, the union’s first president was the Fabian intellectual and trade union historian Sydney Webb.

It became the Association of Women Clerks and Secretaries in 1912, and from that point on organised only women workers. Its badge shows not a penguin as it might appear but an auk – the union’s name being abbreviated to AWCS.

Though never large, the union survived until 1941, when it amalgamated with the Clerical and Administrative Workers Union. In 1972, it became the Association of Professional, Executive, Clerical and Computer Staff or APEX (and has since 1989 been part of the GMB).

One of the AWCS’ leading members, Anne Godwin (1897-1992), who had become general secretary of the CAWU in the 1950s, became only the third woman president of the Trades Union Congress, serving in 1961-62, shortly before her retirement.

The union’s surviving records can be found in the Working Class Movement Library.

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National Asylum Workers Union

Badge of the National Asylum Workers Union

The National Asylum Workers Union was founded in 1910, largely as a result of dissatisfaction with a new national pension scheme introduced for mental health workers the previous year.

Though heralded as a breakthrough by the then dominant Asylum Workers Association, the scheme was considerably worse for some asylum workers than the discretionary schemes it replaced. Their frustration came to a head in Lancashire, where agitation and petitions to improve the new scheme’s terms failed to sway members of the county asylums board.

The new union’s slogan, “All for one and one for all: thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”, was adopted early on at the same meeting, at the Boar’s Head Hotel, Preston, on 24 September 1910, at which the union was named. The first half of the slogan can be seen on the union’s badge.

By July 1912, the NAWU had 5,400 members and a paid general secretary, the Rev HMS Bankart, a former mental hospital chaplain. It affiliated to the Labour Party in 1915 and to the TUC in 1923.

One of its first disputes, at Bodmin Asylum in October 1918, broke out when nurses were ordered to remove their union badges and refused to do so. Five nurses were sacked, and 34 more walked out in sympathy (from a staff of 70).

Within a week, male staff at the hospital had joined the strike, and the visiting committee was forced to back down, reinstating all those who had been dismissed and permitting them to wear their union badges.

The union changed its name in 1930 to the Mental Hospital and Institutional Workers Union and, with the backing of the TUC, began to recruit in opposition to the National Association of Local Government Officers (NALGO).

In 1946, the MHIWU merged with the smaller Hospital and Welfare Services Union to form the Confederation of Health Service Employees, under which name it continued to operate until 1993, when it was one of three founder unions of the new Unison public services union. Its partners were the National Union of Public Employees and NALGO.

More on the history of the National Asylum Workers Union and its successor unions can be found on Michael Walker’s COHSE blog.

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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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