General Federation of Trade Unions (UK)

The General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU) is a national trade union centre in the United Kingdom. It has 35 affiliates with a membership of just over 214,000 and describes itself as the "federation for specialist unions".

Full nameGeneral Federation of Trade Unions
Key peopleDoug Nicholls, General Secretary
Ben Marshall, president
Office locationLondon, England
CountryUnited Kingdom


In the 1890s, the development of socialist organisations and socialist thinking also found expression in the British trade union movement. Many of the new unions formed during that period were committed to the socialist transformation of society and were critical of the conservatism of the craft unions. The debate revolved around concept of building "one-big-union" which would have the resources to embark on a militant course of action and even change society. This thinking gained strength after the 1897 Engineering Employers Federation lockout which resulted in a defeat for engineering workers.

The view that it was necessary to develop a strong, centralised trade union organisation by forming a federation, which had been rejected only two years earlier, was now endorsed at the Trades Union Congress of September 1897. This resulted in the establishment of the General Federation of Trade Unions at a special Congress of the TUC in 1899, the principal objective of which was to set up a national organisation with a strike fund which could be drawn upon by affiliated trade unions.

GFTU participated in the foundation of the International Federation of Trade Unions at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam in July 1919.

The federation has seen a large turnover of members, due largely to mergers in the movement. In 1979, its members were:[1]

By 2016, none of the 1979 members remained as independent unions.

Current role

The GFTU now concentrates on servicing the needs of specialist unions. It does this by providing courses, undertaking research for its affiliated Unions and administering a Pension Scheme for officials and staff of affiliated Unions. In keeping with its original objectives, the Federation pays dispute benefit in appropriate cases to affiliated Unions.

The Governing Body is the Biennial General Council Meeting, attended by delegates from affiliated Unions, at which policy and rule changes are debated and an Executive Committee of 14 members elected to meet on a monthly basis between Biennial General Council Meetings.

The Federation undertakes its Parliamentary activities by working closely with John Mann MP, Member of Parliament Bassetlaw constituency, particularly in respect of proposed legislation.

Affiliated unions

Full members

Associate members

General Secretaries

1899: Isaac Mitchell
1907: William A. Appleton
1938: George Bell
1953: Leslie Hodgson
1978: Peter Potts
1991: Michael Bradley
2010: Doug Nicholls


1899Pete CurranNational Union of Gasworkers and General Labourers
1910Allan GeeGeneral Union of Weavers and Textile Workers
1912James O'GradyNational Amalgamated Furnishing Trades Association
1918Joseph CrossAmalgamated Weavers' Association
1920Thomas MallalieuAmalgamated Society of Journeymen Felt Hatters
1922Alfred ShortNational Union of Docks, Wharves and Shipping Staffs
1924Fred BirchenoughAmalgamated Association of Operative Cotton Spinners and Twiners
1926Alex HutchisonNational Union of Stove Grate Workers
1928John SimeDundee and District Union of Jute and Flax Workers
1930Charles KeanWallpaper Workers' Union
1932William AucockNational Society of Pottery Workers
1934William SaxonAmalgamated Machine, Engine and Iron Grinders' and Glazers' Society
1936Joseph FrayneAmalgamated Association of Card and Blowing and Ring Room Operatives
1938Andrew NaesmithAmalgamated Weavers' Association
1940John LeeAmalgamated Textile Warehousemen's Association
1942Albert TaylorRossendale Union of Boot, Shoe and Slipper Operatives
1944Horace MouldenNational Union of Hosiery and Knitwear Workers
1946Frank DickinsonYorkshire Association of Power Loom Overlookers
1948Fred WorthingtonFelt Hatters' and Trimmers' Unions of Great Britain
1950Albert KnowlesAmalgamated Association of Operative Cotton Spinners and Twiners
1952Archie RobertsonNational Association of Card, Blowing and Ring Room Operatives
1954Cecil HeapWallpaper Workers' Union
1956Bert HeadChain Makers' and Strikers' Association
1958Jack WigglesworthIron, Steel and Metal Dressers' Society
1959Alf TomkinsNational Union of Furniture Trade Operatives
1961Robert DriverRossendale Union of Boot, Shoe and Slipper Operatives
1963Fred TitheringtonGeneral Union of Associations of Loom Overlookers
1964Leonard JacksonNational Society of Pottery Workers
1965James W. WhitworthAmalgamated Association of Operative Cotton Spinners and Twiners
1966Edwin D. SleemanYorkshire Association of Power Loom Overlookers
1967Robert DoyleUnion of Jute, Flax and Kindred Textile Operatives
1968Frederick Charles HenryWaterproof Garment Workers' Trade Union
1969Fred HagueAmalgamated Weavers' Association
1970Jim BrowningNational Union of Textile and Allied Workers
1971Arthur HowcroftGeneral Union of Associations of Loom Overlookers
1972Ken ArnoldCeramic and Allied Trades Union
1973Edward TullockAssociated Metalworkers' Union
1974Harold GibsonNational Union of Hosiery and Knitwear Workers
1975Tom WhittakerRossendale Union of Boot, Shoe and Slipper Operatives
1976Margaret FenwickUnion of Jute, Flax and Kindred Textile Operatives
1977D. HillSociety of Lithographic Artists, Designers and Engravers
1978David CoatesFurniture, Timber and Allied Trades Union
1979John MartinNational Union of Lock and Metal Workers
1980Harry M. WarehamAmalgamated Union of Asphalt Workers
1981Leslie R. SmithNorthern Carpet Trades Union
1982Joe QuinnAmalgamated Textile Workers Union
1983Anne SpencerNational Union of Tailors and Garment Workers
1984Charles P. McCarthyNational Society of Metal Mechanics
1985David LambertNational Union of Hosiery and Knitwear Workers
1987James McChristieGMB Union
1989Michael MurrayRossendale Union of Boot, Shoe and Slipper Operatives
1991Keith EdmondsonNorthern Carpet Trades Union
1993Alfred HitchmoughAmalgamated Society of Textile Workers and Kindred Trades
1995Ron MarronAssociated Metalworkers Union
1997Tony McCarthyNational Union of Domestic Appliances and General Operatives
1999Terry PyeManufacturing, Science and Finance
2001Michael J. LeahyCommunity
2003Des FarrellGMB Union
2005Garry OakesCeramic and Allied Trades Union
2007Doug NichollsCommunity and Youth Workers' Union
2009Joe MarinoBakers, Food and Allied Workers' Union
2011Joe MannCommunity
2013John FrayNational Union of Journalists
2015Ben MarshallProspect
2017John SmithMusicians' Union
2019Oshor WilliamsProfessional Footballers' Association

See also


  • Hyman, Richard (1971). The Workers' Union. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press.
  1. Jack Eaton and Colin Gill, The Trade Union Directory (1979), pp.2-3
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.