Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions

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Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions logo.png
Full nameConfederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions
Members5 unions
Key peopleIan Waddell (General Secretary)
Office locationWalworth Road, London, England
CountryUnited Kingdom

The Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions (CSEU), often known as the Confed is a trade union confederation in the United Kingdom.


The confederation was founded in December 1890 as the Federation of Engineering and Shipbuilding Trades by small craft unions, on the initiative of Robert Knight of the United Society of Boilermakers and Iron and Steel Shipbuilders, primarily in response to the formation of a National Federation of Shipbuilders and Engineers by employers.[1] By 1895, sixteen unions were affiliated, with a total membership of 150,000.[2] However, the prominent Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE) refused to join.[3] The ASE finally joined in 1905 but, failing to persuade the other members to unite with it in a single industrial union, withdrew again in 1914.[4] Meanwhile, unions representing unskilled workers were initially excluded; the National Amalgamated Union of Labour was finally admitted in 1908, and the National Union of Gasworkers and General Labourers in 1910, and only after they had given assurances that they would permit the craft unions to retain a leading role in the organisation. Because it would not sign a similar agreement, the Workers' Union was never admitted.[5] In its early years, the Federation focussed on resolving demarcation disputes,[2] but it soon concentrated on making national agreements for the engineering and shipbuilding industries, allowing the largest union in each trade to take the lead in negotiations.[6]

The confederation adopted its current form and name in 1936.[6] From 1941, the CSEU co-operated with the National Union of Foundry Workers and the Amalgamated Engineering Union in the National Engineering Joint Trades Movement, convincing these two unions to affiliate in 1944 and 1946 respectively. The confederation then represented the vast majority of unionised workers in the relevant industries.[7]

By 1977, the CSEU had 23 affiliates and 2.4 million members, with most workers organised in the relevant sections of the Transport and General Workers Union, General and Municipal Workers Union and Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union.[6] Members in 1979 were:[8]

In 1989, membership was still 22 affiliates and 2 million members but, by 2001, this had fallen to 1.2 million members,[7] and a process of union mergers has greatly reduced the number of affiliated unions and the prominence of the organisation. All current affiliates are also members of the Trades Union Congress.

By 2017 the union had no direct members and was functioning as a federation of the Unite, GMB, Community, Prospect and UCATT trade unions.[9] Since the merger of UCATT into Unite the number of member unions has fallen to four.[10]

Current members[edit]

General Secretaries[edit]

1890: William Mosses
1917: Frank Smith
1937: Ernest Gilbert
1942: Gavin Martin
1957: George Barratt
1970: Jack Service
1978: Alex Ferry
1994: Alan Robson
2004: John Wall
2008: Dave Gibbs
2009: Hugh Scullion
2017: Ian Waddell


From Until President[11] Union
1897 c.1900 Robert Knight USB
1900 1912 James Millar Jack AIMS
1912 1922 John Hill USB
1923 1925 Allan Findlay UPA
1925 1933 Will Sherwood NUGMW
1933 1939 William Westwood SCSA
1939 1941 John W. Stephenson PGDEU
1941 1943 Harry N. Harrison NUGMW
1943 1945 Mark Hodgson USB
1945 1947 John Willcocks SSA
1947 1948 Mark Hodgson USB
1948 1958 Harry Brotherton NUSMW
1958 1959 Wilfred Beard UPA
1959 1960 Frank Foulkes ETU
1960 1961 Jim Matthews NUGMW
1961 1962 Harold Poole NUSMWC
1962 1963 George Doughty DATA
1963 1964 John McFarlane Boyd AEU
1964 1965 Ted Hill ASB
1965 1966 Alf Roberts NUVB
1966 1967 William Tallon AEU
1967 1968 William Carron AEF
1968 1969 Leonard Green NUSMWCH&DE
1969 1970 Percy Hanley AEF
1970 1971 Jack Youngs ASW
1971 1972 Frank Briggs NSMM
1972 1973 Jack Higham NUDAGO
1973 1974 Fred McGuffie EETPU
1974 1975 Charles Stewart FTAT
1975 1976 Les Buck NUSMWCH&DE
1976 1977 Len Edmondson AUEW
1977 1978 Marie Patterson TGWU
1978 1979 Hugh Scanlon AUEW
1979 1980 Ken Baker GMWU
1980 1981 Roy Grantham APEX
1981 1982 Gerry Eastwood APAC
1982 1983 Pat Turner GMB
1983 1984 Granville Hawley TGWU
1984 1985 Robert McCusker ASTMS
1985 1986 Tom Crispin TGWU
1986 1987 Gavin Laird AEU
1987 1988 Todd Sullivan TGWU
1988 1989 Ken Gill MSF
1989 1990 Jack Whyman AEEU
1990 1991 John Weakley AEEU
1991 1992 Charlie Kelly UCATT
1992 1993 Bill Jordan AEEU
1993-5: ?
1995-7: Barbara Switzer (MSF)
1999-01: Roger Lyons (MSF)
2000s: Diana Holland (Unite)
John Rowse (TGWU)
2005-7: Doug Collins (Amicus)
2007-9: John Quigley (Unite)
2011-: Ian Tonks (Unite)


  1. ^ Journal, New Zealand Department of Labour (1893), p.72
  2. ^ a b Herbert Tracey, Seventy years of trade unionism, 1868-1938, p.123
  3. ^ Arthur Ivor Marsh and Victoria Ryan, Historical Directory of Trade Unions, p.16
  4. ^ Edmund and Ruth Frow, Engineering struggles, p.32
  5. ^ John P. Lynch, An unlikely success story: the Belfast shipbuilding industry, 1880-1935, p.37
  6. ^ a b c Arthur Ivor Marsh, Trade union handbook, p.84
  7. ^ a b J. C. Doherty, Historical dictionary of organized labor, pp.72-73
  8. ^ Jack Eaton and Colin Gill, The Trade Union Directory (1979), pp.1-2
  9. ^ "Annual Return 2017" (PDF). Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  10. ^ "The CSEU - Confederation of Shipbuilding & Engineering Unions". Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  11. ^ "Past Presidents of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions". Annual Report of the Conference of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions: 12. 1987.

8. Angela Tuckett "The Blacksmiths' History. What Smithy Workers gave Trade Unionism" 1974 p250

External links[edit]