Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union
|Full name||Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union|
|Office location||110 Peckham Road, London|
The history of the union can be traced back to the formation of the Journeymen Steam Engine, Machine Makers and Millwrights Friendly Society, in 1826. Popularly known as the "Old Mechanics", it decided to form a new union to bring together skilled workers from all engineering trades. It invited a large number of other unions to become part a new Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE), although the only other large union to join was the Smiths Benevolent, Sick and Burial Society. Together with various small, local unions, they brought 5,000 members into the ASE on its creation in 1851.
The ASE was one of the 'New Model Unions' of the 1850s–1870s. These unions, which also included the Ironfounders, Builders, and Carpenters' societies, rejected Chartism and the ideas of Robert Owen in favour of a more moderate policy based on 'prudence', 'respectability' and steady growth. Great importance was attached to the question of finance, as substantial funds would not only provide maintenance for members involved in strike action, but also help to deter the employers from attacking the organisation. Since its members were skilled and relatively highly paid, it was possible for the ASE to charge contributions of one shilling a week and to build up a fund of unprecedented proportions.
The ASE was an immediate success, and within a year, membership had more than doubled to 11,000. However, in 1852, it was involved in an extended national lockouts, which greatly weakened the organisation, an event repeated in 1896. But it maintained its pre-eminent position in the industry, and many local and regional unions joined.
In 1920, the ASE put out a fresh call for other unions to merge with it in a renamed Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU). More than twenty unions balloted their members on a possible merger, and nine voted in favour of amalgamation:
- Amalgamated Association of Brass Turners, Fitters, Finishers and Coppersmiths
- Amalgamated Instrument Makers' Society
- Amalgamated Society of General Tool Makers, Engineers and Machinists
- East of Scotland Brass Founders' Society
- London United Metal Turners', Fitters' and Finishers' Society
- North of England Brass Turners', Fitters' and Finishers' Society
- Steam Engine Makers' Society
- United Kingdom Society of Amalgamated Smiths and Strikers
- United Machine Workers' Association
The resulting union had a membership of 450,000.
In 1922 employers, represented by the Engineering Employers' Federation, launched an industry-wide lockout in an attempt to reverse the gains made by the AEU during WWI and its aftermath. Exploiting the downturn in economic conditions in the engineering industry, they demanded the union forfeit control over overtime. The lockout lasted from 11 March to 13 June and involved 260,000 workers, 90,000 of them represented by the AEU. The lockout ended with the union conceding some of the employers' demands.
The AEU continued to grow and absorb smaller unions. Its largest membership growth came during the Second World War when its all-male membership voted to admit women for the first time and 100,000 joined almost immediately. However, the AEU also lost its overseas branches in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, who became independent unions.
The AEU merged with the Amalgamated Union of Foundry Workers (AUFW) in 1967 to form the Amalgamated Union of Engineering and Foundry Workers, and with the Draughtsmen and Allied Technicians' Association (DATA) and Constructional Engineering Union in 1971 to form the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers, AUEW. That merger was torn apart by political and industrial differences between the blue- and white-collar sections and the former DATA became Technical, Administrative and Supervisory Section, TASS before merging with the white-collar union ASTMS, led by Clive Jenkins, to form Manufacturing Science Finance, MSF.
The rest of the AUEW returned to the AEU name, absorbing the small British Roll Turners Trade Society. The AEU became a mainstay of the moderate right in the trade union movement through the 1980s and 1990s, leading the manufacturing unions in 1989–91 in a successful push for a shorter working week, but failing to merge with a number of unions, notally the building workers union UCATT.
In 1992 the AEU finally achieved a merger with the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union, EETPU, after a hundred years of off and on discussions.  The new union took the name Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union.
- 1851: William Allan
- 1875: John Burnett
- 1886: Robert Austin
- 1891: John Anderson
- 1896: George Nicoll Barnes
- 1909: Jenkin Jones
- 1912: Robert Young
- 1919: Tom Mann
- 1921: Albert Smethurst
- 1933: Fred A. Smith
- 1943: Benjamin Gardner
- 1956: Cecil Hallett
- 1965: Jim Conway
- AUEW Engineering Section
- 1975: John McFarlane Boyd
- 1982: Gavin Laird
- 1992: Gavin Laird and Paul Gallagher
- 1994: Paul Gallagher
- 1995: Ken Jackson
- 2002: Derek Simpson
- 1893: Alfred Sellicks
- 1903: David Gardner
- 1910: Albert Taylor
- 1913: James Thomas Brownlie
- 1920: James Thomas Brownlie
- 1931: William Harold Hutchinson
- 1933: John C. Little
- 1939: Jack Tanner
- 1954: Robert Openshaw
- 1956: William Carron
- 1968: Hugh Scanlon
- 1978: Terence Duffy
- 1986: Bill Jordan
- 1996: Davey Hall
- Smethurst, John B.; Carter, Peter (2009). Historical Directory of Trade Unions: Including unions in building and construction, agriculture, fishing, chemicals, wood and woodworking, transport, engineering and metalworking, government, civil and public service, shipbuilding, energy and extraction in the United Kingdom and Ireland. 6. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7546-6683-7. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- Arthur Marsh and Victoria Ryan, Historical Directory of British Trade Unions, vol.3, pp.12-15
- Haydu, Jeffrey (1988). Between Craft and Class: Skilled Workers and Factory Politics in the United States and Britain, 1890-1922. University of California Press. p. 168. ISBN 9780520060609.
- Lloyd, John (1990). Light and Liberty: A History of EEPTU. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 9780297796626.
- Catalogue of the ASE archives, held at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick
- Catalogue of the AEU archives, held at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick
- Catalogue of the AUEW archives, held at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick
- Catalogue of the ETU archives, held at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick
- Catalogue of the AEEU archives, held at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick