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Trades Union Congress

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Trades Union Congress
TUC Logo.png
Full name Trades Union Congress
Founded 1868
Members Nearly 7 million (2008)
Country United Kingdom
Affiliation ITUC
Key people Brendan Barber, ( General Secretary)
Dougie Rooney, President
Office location Congress House, London

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is a national trade union centre, a federation of trade unions in the United Kingdom, representing the majority of trade unions. There are fifty-eight affiliated unions with a total of about 6.5 million members, around half of whom are represented by Unite or UNISON.

The TUC's decision-making body is the Annual Congress, which takes place in September. Between congresses decisions are made by the General Council, which meets every two months. An Executive Committee is elected by the Council from its members. The senior paid official of the TUC is the General Secretary, currently Brendan Barber.


The TUC was founded in the 1860s. The United Kingdom Alliance of Organised Trades, founded in Sheffield, Yorkshire, in 1866, was the immediate forerunner of the TUC, although efforts to expand local unions into regional or national organisations date back at least forty years earlier; in 1822, John Gast formed a "Committee of the Useful Classes", sometimes described as an early national trades council. However, the first TUC meeting was not held until 1868 when the Manchester and Salford Trades Council convened the founding meeting in the Manchester Mechanics' Institute (located on David St, now Princess St: the building is at no. 103). The fact that the TUC was formed by Northern Trades Councils was not coincidental. One of the issues which prompted this initiative was the perception that the London Trades Council (formed in 1860 and including, because of its location, many of the most prominent union leaders of the day) was taking a dominant role in speaking for the Trade Union Movement as a whole.

Arising out of the 1897 Congress, a decision was taken to form a more centralised trade union structure that would enable a more militant approach to be taken to fighting the employer and even achieving the socialist transformation of society. The result was the General Federation of Trade Unions which was formed in 1899. For some years it was unclear which body (the GFTU or the TUC) would emerge as the national trade union centre for the UK and for a while both were recognised as such by different fraternal organisations in other countries. However, it was soon agreed amongst the major unions that the TUC should take the leading role and that this would be the central body of the organised Labour Movement in the UK. The GFTU continued in existence and remains to this day as a federation of (smaller, often craft-based) trade unions providing common services and facilities to its members (especially education and training services).

As the TUC expanded and formalised its role as the "General Staff of the Labour Movement" it incorporated the Trades Councils who had given birth to it, eventually becoming the body which authorised these local arms of the TUC to speak on behalf of the wider Trade Union Movement at local and County level. Also, as the TUC became increasingly bureaucratised, the Trades Councils (often led by militant and communist-influenced lay activists) found themselves being subject to political restrictions and purges (particularly during various anti-communist witch-hunts) and to having their role downplayed and marginalised. In some areas (especially in London and the South East) the Regional Councils of the TUC (dominated by paid officials of the unions) effectively took over the role of the County Associations of Trades Councils and these paid officials replaced elected lay-members as the spokespersons for the Trade Union Movement at County and Regional level. By the end of the 20th century local Trades Councils and County Associations of Trades Councils had become so ineffective and weak that many had simply faded into effective dissolution.

The TUC was the body which initiated the Labour Representation Committee in the late 19th century (which went on to become the Labour Party). The major TUC affiliated unions still make up the great bulk of the British Labour Party affiliated membership, but there is no formal/organisational link between the TUC and the party.

The Scottish Trades Union Congress, which was formed in 1897, is a separate and autonomous organization.


Make Poverty History banner in front of Trades Union Congress.
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  • Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF)
  • Association for College Management (ACM)
  • Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP)
  • Association of Flight Attendants (AFA)
  • Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL)
  • Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU)
  • Britannia Staff Union (BSU)
  • British Air Line Pilots Association (BALPA)
  • British Association of Colliery Management - Technical, Energy and Administrative Management (BACM-TEAM)
  • British Dietetic Association (BDA)
  • British Orthoptic Society Trade Union
  • Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU)
  • Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP)
  • Communication Workers Union (CWU)
  • Community
  • Community and District Nursing Association (CDNA)
  • Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS)
  • FDA
  • Fire Brigades Union (FBU)
  • GMB
  • Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA)
  • Musicians' Union (MU)
  • NAPO
  • National Association of Colliery Overmen, Deputies and Shotfirers (NACODS)
  • National Association of Co-operative Officials (NACO)
  • National Association of Stable Staff NASS
  • National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT)
  • National Union of Journalists (NUJ)
  • Nautilus, formerly National Union of Marine, Aviation and Shipping Transport Officers (NUMAST)
  • National Union of Mineworkers (NUM)
  • National Union of Teachers (NUT)
  • Nationwide Group Staff Union (NGSU)
  • One Union of Regional Staff (OURS)
  • Prison Officers Association (POA)
  • Professional Footballers Association (PFA)
  • Prospect
  • Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS)
  • RMT (National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers)
  • SURGE, formerly SKISA (Skipton Staff Association)
  • Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists (SCP)
  • Society of Radiographers (SoR)
  • Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA)
  • Undeb Cenedlaethol Athrawon Cymru (UCAC)
  • Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT)
  • Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW)
  • Unite the Union
  • United Road Transport Union (URTU)
  • Unity (ceramics industry workers, formerly CATU)
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  • Writers' Guild of Great Britain (WGGB)
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Former members

  • Alliance and Leicester Group Union of Staff (merged into CWU, 2007)
  • Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union (merged into Amicus, 2002)
  • Amicus (merged into Unite, 2007)
  • Association of Magisterial Officers (merged into PCS, 2005)
  • Association of University Teachers (merged into UCU, 2006)
  • Associated Metalworkers Union (merged into AEEU, 2001)
  • Card Setting Machine Tenters Society (dissolved 2008)
  • Cheshire Group Staff Union (merged into OURS, 2010)
  • Community and Youth Workers' Union (merged into TGWU, 2006)
  • Connect (merged into Prospect, 2010)
  • Derbyshire Group Staff Union (merged into OURS, 2010)
  • Diageo Staff Association (dissolved 2010)
  • Engineering and Fastener Trade Union (dissolved 2004)
  • Engineers and Managers Association (merged into Prospect, 2001)
  • General Union of Loom Overlookers (dissolved 2007)
  • Graphical, Paper and Media Union (merged into Amicus, 2005)
  • Institution of Professionals, Managers and Specialists (merged into Prospect, 2001)
  • Iron and Steel Trades Confederation (merged into Community, 2004)
  • Manufacturing, Science and Finance (merged into Amicus, 2002)
  • NATFHE (merged into UCU, 2006)
  • National Union of Domestic Appliances and General Operatives (merged into Community, 2006)
  • National Union of Knitwear, Footwear and Apparel Trades (merged into Community, 2004)
  • National Union of Lock and Metal Workers (merged into TGWU, 2004)
  • Sheffield Wool Shear Workers Union (dissolved 2007)
  • Transport and General Workers Union (merged into Unite, 2007)
  • UBAC (merged into Advance, 2009)
  • UNIFI (merged into Amicus, 2004)
  • Union for Woolwich Staff (merged into UNIFI, 2002)
  • Union of Textile Workers (merged into Amicus, 2002)
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