Iron and Steel Trades Confederation

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Iron and Steel Trades Confederation
Iron and Steel Trades Confederation logo.png
Founded 1 January 1917 (1917-01-01)
Date dissolved 2004
Merged into Community
Members 110,000 (1978)[1]
Affiliation TUC, CSEU
Office location Swinton House, Gray's Inn Road, London
Country United Kingdom

The Iron and Steel Trades Confederation (ISTC) was a British trade union for metal-workers and allied groups. It was formed on 1 January 1917 as a merger of existing steel-workers' unions and it is now part of Community.


In 1917 Minister of Labour, John Hodge passed the Trade Unions' Amalgamation Act, which simplified the process whereby Trade Unions merged, amalgamated or federated. This was in response to both the difficulty of mergers under the previous legislation (requiring two-third majorities in favor in all participant unions), as well as a desire to push craft unions into general trade unions to cover entire industries.[2] However, difficulties still remained. When the first three members federated in 1917, they were legally prevented from accepting any new members. The ISTC focused on industrial negotiations, and new members joined its subsidiary, the British Iron, Steel and Kindred Trades Association (BISAKTA); formally, unions which federated after 1917 joined this association.[3]

Trade unions that have amalgamated with or transferred engagements to the ISTC or BISAKTA and year it occurred:

The resultant union was named the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation. Both the Amalgamated Association of Steel and Iron Workers of Great Britain and the Tin and Sheet Millmens' Association balloted their members[vague] unsuccessfully in 1916 but were later successful. The Wire Workers Union joined the confederation in 1922 but left in 1924, rejoining in 1991. Other members left in 1924 to form the Constructional Engineering Union.[3]

In 1984, the existing ISTC was legally absorbed by BISAKTA, which took on the ISTC name.[3]

In later years the union also built up representation amongst workers in the electronics industry, plastics and glass, the manufacture of kitchen furniture, carpet production, and call centres. Expansion was especially strong in areas with major steel industry installations.

Responding to the contraction of the British manufacturing sector, the ISTC expanded into new areas in 2000. Both the NLBD and PLCWTWU pre-dating the ISTC having been formed as a trade union in 1899 and 1866 respectively.[4]

In 2004, the ISTC merged with the National Union of Knitwear, Footwear & Apparel Trades (KFAT) to form a new organisation called Community.

General Secretaries[edit]

1917: Arthur Pugh
1936: John Brown
1946: Lincoln Evans
1953: Harry Douglass
1967: Dai Davies
1975: Bill Sirs
1985: Roy Evans
1993: Keith Brookman
1999: Michael J. Leahy

Assistant General Secretaries[edit]

1935: John Brown
1936: Lincoln Evans
1945: Harry Douglass
1953: Dai Davies
1967: E. Roberts
1973: Bill Sirs
1975: Roy Evans
1985: Keith Brookman
1993: Michael J. Leahy
1999: Eddie Lynch
2004: Roy Rickhuss


  1. ^ Yves Mény, The Politics of Steel, p.323
  2. ^ pg. 245 Men of Steel, Iron Steel Trades Confederation
  3. ^ a b c University of Warwick Modern Records Centre, "Iron and Steel Trades Confederation (ISTC), the British Iron, Steel and Kindred Trades Association (BISAKTA) and predecessors, (1865)-2004"
  4. ^ pg 74 The Carpet Weavers of Kidderminster. Arthur MarshMalthouse Press Oxford

External links[edit]