General Federation of Trade Unions (United Kingdom)

Full name General Federation of Trade Unions
Founded 1899
Members 214,000
Key people Doug Nicholls, General Secretary
Ben Marshall, president
Office location London, England
Country United Kingdom

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".


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.

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


Year Name Union
1899Curran, PetePete CurranNational Union of Gasworkers and General Labourers
1910Gee, AllanAllan GeeGeneral Union of Weavers and Textile Workers
1912O'Grady, JamesJames O'GradyNational Amalgamated Furnishing Trades Association
1918Mallalieu, ThomasThomas MallalieuAmalgamated Society of Journeymen Felt Hatters
1922Short, AlfredAlfred ShortNational Union of Docks, Wharves and Shipping Staffs
1924Birchenough, FredFred BirchenoughAmalgamated Association of Operative Cotton Spinners and Twiners
1926Hutchison, AlexAlex HutchisonNational Union of Stove Grate Workers
1928Sime, JohnJohn SimeDundee and District Union of Jute and Flax Workers
1930Kean, CharlesCharles KeanWallpaper Workers' Union
1932Aucock, WilliamWilliam AucockNational Society of Pottery Workers
1934Saxon, WilliamWilliam SaxonAmalgamated Machine, Engine and Iron Grinders' and Glazers' Society
1936Frayne, JosephJoseph FrayneAmalgamated Association of Card and Blowing and Ring Room Operatives
1938Naesmith, AndrewAndrew NaesmithAmalgamated Weavers' Association
1940Lee, JohnJohn LeeAmalgamated Textile Warehousemen's Association
1942Taylor, AlbertAlbert TaylorRossendale Union of Boot, Shoe and Slipper Operatives
1944Moulden, Horace M.Horace M. MouldenNational Union of Hosiery Workers
1946Dickinson, FrankFrank DickinsonYorkshire Association of Power Loom Overlookers
1948Worthington, FredFred WorthingtonFelt Hatters' and Trimmers' Unions of Great Britain
1950Knowles, AlbertAlbert KnowlesAmalgamated Association of Operative Cotton Spinners and Twiners
1952Robertson, ArchibaldArchibald RobertsonNational Association of Card, Blowing and Ring Room Operatives
1954Heap, CecilCecil HeapWallpaper Workers' Union
1956Head, Albert E.Albert E. HeadChain Makers' and Strikers' Association
1958Wigglesworth, JackJack WigglesworthIron, Steel and Metal Dressers' Society
1959Tomkins, AlfAlf TomkinsNational Union of Furniture Trade Operatives
1961Driver, RobertRobert DriverRossendale Union of Boot, Shoe and Slipper Operatives
1963Titherington, FredFred TitheringtonGeneral Union of Associations of Loom Overlookers
1964Jackson, L.L. JacksonNational Society of Pottery Workers
1965Whitworth, JamesJames WhitworthAmalgamated Association of Operative Cotton Spinners and Twiners
1966Sleeman, Edwin D.Edwin D. SleemanYorkshire Association of Power Loom Overlookers
1967Doyle, RobertRobert DoyleUnion of Jute, Flax and Kindred Textile Operatives
1968Henry, Frederick CharlesFrederick Charles HenryWaterproof Garment Workers' Trade Union
1969Hague, FredFred HagueAmalgamated Weavers' Association
1970Browning, JamesJames BrowningUnited Textile Factory Workers' Association
1971Howcroft, ArthurArthur HowcroftGeneral Union of Associations of Loom Overlookers
1972Arnold, J. K. W.J. K. W. ArnoldCeramic and Allied Trades Union
1973Tullock, EdwardEdward TullockAssociated Metalworkers' Union
1974Gibson, HaroldHarold GibsonNational Union of Hosiery and Knitwear Workers
1975Whittaker, ThomasThomas WhittakerRossendale Union of Boot, Shoe and Slipper Operatives
1976Fenwick, MargaretMargaret FenwickUnion of Jute, Flax and Kindred Textile Operatives
1977Hill, D.D. HillSociety of Lithographic Artists, Designers and Engravers
1978Coates, DavidDavid CoatesFurniture, Timber and Allied Trades Union
1979Martin, JohnJohn MartinNational Union of Lock and Metal Workers
1980Wareham, Harry M.Harry M. WarehamAmalgamated Union of Asphalt Workers
1981Smith, Leslie R.Leslie R. SmithNorthern Carpet Trades Union
1982Quinn, J. J.J. J. QuinnAmalgamated Textile Workers Union
1983Spencer, AnneAnne SpencerNational Union of Tailors and Garment Workers
1984McCarthy, C. P.C. P. McCarthyNational Society of Metal Mechanics
1985Lambert, DavidDavid LambertNational Union of Hosiery and Knitwear Workers
1987McChristie, JamesJames McChristieGMB Union
1989Murray, MichaelMichael MurrayRossendale Union of Boot, Shoe and Slipper Operatives
1991Edmondson, KeithKeith EdmondsonNorthern Carpet Trades Union
1993Hitchmough, AlfredAlfred HitchmoughAmalgamated Society of Textile Workers and Kindred Trades
1995Marron, RonRon MarronAssociated Metalworkers Union
1997McCarthy, TonyTony McCarthyNational Union of Domestic Appliances and General Operatives
1999Pye, TerryTerry PyeManufacturing, Science and Finance
2001Leahy, Michael J.Michael J. LeahyCommunity
2003Farrell, DesDes FarrellGMB Union
2005Oakes, GarryGarry OakesCeramic and Allied Trades Union
2007Nicholls, DougDoug NichollsCommunity and Youth Workers' Union
2009Marino, JoeJoe MarinoBakers, Food and Allied Workers' Union
2011Mann, JoeJoe MannCommunity
2013Fray, JohnJohn FrayNational Union of Journalists
2015Marshall, BenBen MarshallProspect

See also


    External links

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