List of trade unions in the United Kingdom

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This is a list of trade unions in the United Kingdom formed under UK labour law. The criteria for being an independent trade union, free from employer influence and domination, are set out in the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 section 5. The body which oversees unions, and awards a certificate of independence for the purpose of collective bargaining is the Trades Union Certification Officer. For the context and history see Trade unions in the United Kingdom.

Union confederations[edit]

Independent unions[edit]

The following is a list of trade unions that are Certificated as independent by the Certification Officer, as of 14 July 2020.[1]

Name G.S. Est. Members Description Const. National Affiliation International Affiliation
App Drivers & Couriers Union James Farrar 2015 6,351 The ADCU objective is to organise and represent all app based transport workers whose work is predominately digitally intermediated. IAATW
Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen Mick Whelan 1880 18,500 ASLEF TUC, STUC Labour ITUC
Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union Sarah Woolley 1847 20,496 BFAWU TUC, Labour ITUC
British Air Line Pilots Association 1935 10,000 BALPA TUC ITUC
British Medical Association Mark Porter 1832 152,200 BMA
Communication Workers Union Dave Ward 1995 201,900 The CWU was formed from a merger of the UCW and the NCU. 2012[permanent dead link] TUC, STUC Labour ITUC
Community Roy Rickhuss CBE 2004 27, 587 TUC, STUC, Labour ITUC
Educational Institute of Scotland Andrea Bradley 1847 60,000 The EIS represents teachers, college lecturers, university lecturers, instrumental music tutors, head teachers and educational psychologists working in Scotland. TUC, STUC ITUC
Equity Paul W. Fleming 1930 46,000 Actors, Stage Managers, Dancers, Variety performers, Creative workers TUC, STUC ITUC
Fire Brigades Union 1918 44,000 FBU 2011 TUC, STUC, Labour ITUC
The FDA 1918 19,000 Managers and professionals in the public service TUC, STUC ITUC
GMB Gary Smith 1982 600,000 Formed from General, Municipal, Boilermakers and Allied Trade Union, as a general workers' union. It includes the International Union of Sex Workers as a branch. 2016 TUC, STUC, Labour ITUC
Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association 1944 3,255 HCSA TUC ITUC
Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain Henry Chango Lopez 2012 3,810 IWGB
Industrial Workers of the World 1905 1,730 IWW; Britain and Ireland region membership current
Musicians' Union 1893 30,000 MU 2009 TUC, STUC, Labour ITUC
National Association of Probation Officers 1912 5,000 NAPO TUC, GFTU ITUC
National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers Dr Patrick Roach 1976 333,223 NASUWT 2016 TUC, STUC ITUC
National Union of Journalists 1907 35,000 NUJ TUC, STUC ITUC
National Union of Mineworkers 1945 1,283 NUM has very few members, given the dismantling of the industry after the UK miners' strike (1984–1985). TUC, Labour ITUC
National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Mick Lynch 1990 80,000 RMT was formerly the National Union of Railwaymen and National Union of Seamen, and absorbed the Offshore Industry Liaison Committee. 2010 TUSC, TUC, STUC ITUC, ITWF, WFTU
National Education Union Kevin Courtney and Mary Bousted 2017 510,000 NEU, representing members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, is the product of the recent merger between NUT and ATL 2012 TUC ITUC
Nautilus International 1857 22,000 A cross-border union for maritime professionals. Main offices are in London, Wallasey, Rotterdam and Basel. Previously known as NUMAST in the UK and FWZ in the Netherlands. TUC ITUC
The POA: Professional Trades Union for Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers 1939 27,500 POA TUC ITUC
Professional Footballers' Association 1907 4,000 PFA TUC, GFTU ITUC
Prospect Mike Clancy 2001 145,000 Engineering, scientific, management and professional staff. 2013 TUC, STUC ITUC, ITWF
Public and Commercial Services Union Mark Serwotka 1998 262,800 PCS 2012 TUC, STUC ITUC, ITWF
Royal College of Nursing Donna Kinnair (interim) 1916 432,000 Royal College of Nursing 2012
Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists Steve Jamieson 1945 8,154 SCP TUC ITUC
Society of Radiographers 1920 18,635 SoR TUC, STUC ITUC
Transport Salaried Staffs' Association Manuel Cortes 1897 32,000 TSSA 2011 TUC, STUC, Labour ITUC
Undeb Cenedlaethol Athrawon Cymru 1948 3,879 UCAC; National Union of Teachers of Wales TUC ITUC
Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers Paddy Lillis 1946 425,700 USDAW 2016 TUC, STUC, Labour ITUC
UNISON Christina McAnea 1993 1,369,114[2] Formed from merging NALGO, NUPE and COHSE as a union for public services workers. 2016 TUC, STUC, Labour ITUC
Unite the Union Sharon Graham 2007 1,291,017[3] Formed in 2007 by a merger between Amicus and TGWU. Amicus was formerly AEEU and Manufacturing Science and Finance and Graphical, Paper and Media Union and UNIFI. UCATT merged in 2017. 2015 TUC, STUC, Labour ITUC
United Voices of the World 2014 3,510 UVW ICL
University and College Union Jo Grady 2006 115,800 UCU; amalgam of the AUT and NATFHE. 2012 TUC ITUC
Voice 1970 20,124 Formerly the Professional Association of Teachers, it refuses to take strike action. GFTU
Writers' Guild of Great Britain Sandi Toksvig president 1959 2,005 WGGB TUC, GFTU ITUC

Other independent unions[edit]

Scotland only

Northern Ireland only[4]

Non-independent unions[edit]

The following is a list of trade unions that have not been certificated as independent by the Certification Officer 31 March 2017.[5]

Scotland only

Northern Ireland[4]

Historical unions[edit]

See also[edit]

Key - Asterisk after name = Trade unions known to the Certification Officer but not applying to be included in the list for 31 March 2014


  1. ^ "Trade unions: the current list and schedule". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2022-02-22.
  2. ^ "UNISON: The Public Service Union: 2018 Annual Return" (PDF). Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  3. ^ "Unite the Union: 2018 Annual Return" (PDF). Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Northern Ireland Certification Officers Report 2012-13, Accessed 25 January 2015" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 February 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  5. ^ Certification officers Annual Report for 2016-17, Accessed 25 July 2018


  • E McGaughey, 'Democracy or Oligarchy? Models of Union Governance in the UK, Germany and US' (2017)

External links[edit]