Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union

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EETPU logo.jpg
Full name Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union
Founded July 1968
Date dissolved 1995
Merged into AEEU
Members 425,000 (1970s)
Affiliation TUC, NFBTO
Key people Frank Chapple, Eric Hammond
Office location London, England, UK
Country United Kingdom
Now part of Unite the Union

The Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union, known as the EETPU, was a British trade union formed in 1968 as a union for electricians and plumbers, which went through three mergers from 1992 to now be part of Unite the Union.


The union was formed in July 1968 with the merger of the Electrical Trades Union and the Plumbing Trades Union to form the Electrical, Electronic & Telecommunications Union & Plumbing Trades Union, which became the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications & Plumbing Union in 1973.[1] Archives of government papers show that "a period of severe industrial unrest" began in September 1970.[2] Local authority manual workers wanted a £30 minimum weekly wage. A Committee of Inquiry recommended a 14.5 per cent increase, but the government considered it to be too high. In the winter that followed (i.e. winter of 1970/1971) an electricity power workers strike caused the Cabinet to declare a national emergency. The first miners' strike followed in 1972.

For many years the EETPU owned and operated its own Technical Training Department which was based at Cudham Hall in Kent. This received much acclaim and press attention in its day.

In September 1982, Chapple became leader of the TUC and was succeeded by Eric Hammond in 1984. Chapple was elevated to the House of Lords as Lord Chapple of Hoxton in 1985.[3][4]

In 1986 the union's members replaced print workers that had been sacked by News International, prompting the Wapping dispute that led to the irrevocable change of Fleet Street.

Expulsion from the TUC[edit]

The union had its own approach to making deals with companies, and thus often clashed with the TUC from which it was expelled for violating the Bridlington Agreement governing the transfer of members between TUC unions. The EETPU had developed a policy of signing single union agreements in companies where it had few members. In 1987, the TUC asked the EETPU to retract from these agreements at Yuasa (a Japanese battery company), Thorn-EMI and Orion (a Japanese electronics company). The EETPU refused and its 225,000 workers were expelled. Around 5,000 members, led by John Aitkin, decided to split away in order to remain within the mainstream trade union movement, and founded the Electrical and Plumbing Industries Union.[5]


The union merged with the Amalgamated Engineering Union to become the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union (AEEU) in May 1992, so the electricians were now part of the TUC. The AEEU was led by Ken Jackson, who belonged to the EETPU. The AEEU merged with the Manufacturing, Science and Finance (MSF) to become Amicus in 2001. Amicus, the largest private sector union with 1.2m workers, was led by Derek Simpson since June 2002. Tony Dubbins, of the NGA in the Wapping dispute, became Joint Deputy General Secretary in 2004. Amicus merged with the Transport and General Workers' Union in May 2007 to become Unite the Union.


A large number of small unions amalgamated with the EETPU:[6]

  • 1980: Steel Industry Management Association, Telecommunications Staff Association, United Kingdom Association of Professional Engineers
  • 1982: British Transport Officers' Guild
  • 1983: Association of Management and Professional Staffs
  • 1984: Rolls-Royce Management Association
  • 1989: Association of British Professional Divers, Ministry of Defence Staff Association, National Association of Senior Probation Officers, Nelson and District Power Loom Overlookers' Association, Springfield Foreman's Association
  • 1990: Haslingden and District Power Loom Overlookers' Association, Institute of Journalists Trade Union, National Association of Fire Officers, National Association of Power Loom Overlookers, Nationally Integrated Caring Employees, Prison Service Union, Television and Film Production Employees' Association
  • 1991: Colne and District Power Loom Overlookers' Association
  • 1992: British Cement Staffs Association

General Secretaries[edit]

1968: Frank Chapple
1984: Eric Hammond

General Presidents[edit]

1968: Les Cannon
1972: Frank Chapple (jointly with general secretary post)
1975: Tom Breakell
1986: Paul Gallagher

Plumbing National Secretary[edit]

1968: Charles Lovell
1988: Bill Gannon


  1. ^ Lloyd, John (1990). Light & liberty : a history of the EETPU. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-79662-3. 
  2. ^ "Government archives". www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/cabinetpapers/themes/industrial-unrest.htm. 
  3. ^ Goodman, Geoffrey (22 October 2004). "Obituary: Lord Chapple". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  4. ^ "Union leader Lord Chapple dead". BBC News. 20 October 2004. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  5. ^ John B. Smethurst and Peter Carter, Historical Directory of Trade Unions, vol.6, p.207
  6. ^ Gary N. Chaison, Union Mergers in Hard Times: The View from Five Countries, pp.175-184
  • Rogers, Roy (2 March 1989). "Unions Prepare Path For Merger". The Glasgow Herald. p. 5. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  • Rogers, Roy (18 May 1989). "Union's Ban On Communists Stays .". The Glasgow Herald. p. 7. Retrieved 7 January 2013. The moderate leadership of the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union failed yesterday to open the way for the lifting of the 25-year-old ... 
  • Wallace, Alan (18 November 1982). "Join Us, Union Urges Tories". Evening Times. Glasgow. p. 19. Retrieved 7 January 2013. The Right-wing Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications, and Plumbing Union believes it has to take the arguments "beyond the Labour Party and the TUC to those who have influence in our society."