National and Local Government Officers' Association

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National and Local Government Officers' Association
Nalgo.jpg
Founded 1905
Date dissolved 1993
Merged into Unison
Members 739,000 (1981)[1]
Affiliation TUC (from 1965)
Office location 1 Mabledon Place,
London WC1H 9AJ
Country United Kingdom

The National and Local Government Officers' Association was a British trade union representing mostly local government "white collar" workers. It was formed in 1905 as the National Association of Local Government Officers, and changed its full name in 1952 while retaining its widely used acronym, NALGO. By the late 1970s it was the largest British union, with over 700,000 members. It was one of three unions which combined to form UNISON in 1993.

Early history[edit]

The National Association of Local Government Officers, or NALGO, was founded in 1905 as an association of local guilds of municipal officers. The main impetus came from Herbert Blain (1870–1942), later to become national agent for the Conservative Party. Blain had formed the first local guild in Liverpool in 1896 and, on moving to London, arranged the national conference in 1905 at which NALGO was formed. In 1909, the first full-time General Secretary, Levi Hill (1883–1961), was appointed, and by 1914 NALGO’s membership included almost 70% of all British local government officers.

Blain and Hill organised NALGO with a national delegate conference and regional and local branch structures. Its first aims were the setting up of a pension scheme; the improvement of the pay, conditions and status of local government officers; the abolition of nepotism (at the time rife in local government); and the welfare of members and their families.

In 1917, a parliamentary committee chaired by J.H.Whitley MP recommended setting up joint committees of employers and workers throughout industry for consultations on pay and working conditions, and in 1919 the first Whitley Council for local government was formed on NALGO’s insistence. After a prolonged process of negotiations, NALGO and the employers agreed a national charter of pay scales in local government in 1946.

Although Hill had previously remarked that "anything savouring of trade unionism is nausea to the local government officer", NALGO sought a certificate from the Registrar of Friendly Societies confirming its status as a trade union in 1920. Discussion on affiliation to the Trades Union Congress began as early as 1921, however, it would take until 1964 to be agreed.

It amalgamated with various smaller unions including the National Association of Poor Law Officers in 1930. Membership continued to grow rapidly, reaching some 100,000 by 1940.

Levi Hill retired as General Secretary in 1943, and was replaced by John Simonds.

National and Local[edit]

With the growth in membership in sectors outside local government such as health, gas and electricity, the union changed its full name in 1952, to the National and Local Government Officers' Association, while still retaining the acronym NALGO. It amalgamated with various smaller unions including the British Gas Staff Association in 1963. It reached 300,000 members by 1964. It finally became a TUC affiliate, after many years of fractious internal argument, in 1964.

As the public sector expanded in importance through the 1950s-70s, and British Government legislation such as the Industrial Relations Act 1971 simultaneously sought to curb trade union powers, some parts of the union became more radicalised. NALGO organised its first official strike in Leeds in 1970, and its first national strike, of social workers, was in 1978/79. It also led the way as a campaigning organisation over equal pay and wider equality and international issues. Total membership rose to over 700,000 by 1977, by which time it was by far the largest UK public sector union.

After the election of the Thatcher government in 1979, NALGO organised strongly in opposition to many of its policies, in particular privatisation, deregulation, and restructuring with the introduction of market mechanisms in local government, education, and the National Health Service.

At the same time, at local level in much of the country many members maintained the old idea of NALGO as a staff association, and this explains why many so-called "NALGO" social clubs, sports teams and so on remained popular. NALGO provided a wide range of benefits for its members, including one of the first holiday camps at Croyde in north Devon and shortly afterwards a second, larger camp at Cayton Bay near Scarborough. (Cayton Bay was sold in 1976 but Croyde Bay is still owned and run by UNISON, NALGO's successor).

NALGO merged with NUPE (the National Union of Public Employees) and COHSE (the Confederation of Health Service Employees) in 1993 to form UNISON.

General Secretaries[edit]

1905: Frank Ginn (Honorary Secretary)
1909: Levi Hill
1943: John Simonds
1945: Haden Corser (acting)
1946: John Warren
1957: Walter Anderson
1973: Geoffrey Drain
1983: John Daly
1990: Alan Jinkinson

Deputy General Secretaries[edit]

1936: John Simonds
1943: Haden Corser
1950: Walter Anderson
1957: Geoffrey Drain
1973: George Newman
1976: Bill Rankin
1982: John Daly
1983: Alan Jinkinson
1990: Dave Prentis

Presidents[edit]

1906: Edward Ralph Pickmere
1907: Homewood Crawford
1924: Arthur P. Johnson
1931: Sam Lord
1932: Fred Marsden
1933: C. G. Brown
1934: Allan Wotherspoon
1935: G. W. Coster
1936: W. E. Lloyd
1937: W. W. Armitage
1938: J. L. Holland
1939: E. J. Stead
1943: Colin A. W. Roberts
1944: Alfred A. Garrard
1945: Frank Henry Harrod
1946: D. J. Parry
1947: Cyril J. Newman
1948: Philip H. Harrold
1949: Ernest A. S. Young
1950: Edward L. Riley
1951: Lewis Bevan
1952: Watson Strother
1953: Thomas Nolan
1954: L. H. Taylor
1955: Philip H. Harrold
1956: John Pepper
1957: Alfred E. Odell
1958: Alfred E. Nortrop
1959: Norman W. Bingham
1960: Tom Belton
1961: Raymond Evans
1962: George R. Ashton
1963: Leslie W. G. Hetherington
1964: Charles A. Smallman
1965: Stephen Duncan
1966: Marian W. Curtin
1967: James G. Iles
1968: Edward J. Varley
1969: Tim J. Hutton
1970: Neil McLean
1971: Ellery H. Clayton
1972: Joe Besserman
1973: Jimmy J. Gardner
1974: Ron W. E. Hill
1975: Arthur H. Buckley
1976: Harold S. Corden
1977: Glyn J. Phillips
1978: Edward Alderton
1979: John A. Meek
1980: Peter Morgan
1981: John Allan
1982: Peter Holt
1983: Arthur Steer
1984: Bill Gill
1985: Norrie Steele
1986: Sheila Smith
1987: John Saunders
1988: Bill Seawright
1989: Rita Donaghy
1990: David Stockford
1991: Mike Blick
1992: Ralph Gayton

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mike Ironside and Roger V. Seifert, Facing Up to Thatcherism: The History of NALGO, 1979-1993, p.162

Sources[edit]

  • Alec Spoor (1967) White Collar Union – sixty years of NALGO
  • George Newman (1982) Path To Maturity – NALGO 1965-1980
  • Mike Ironside and Roger Seifert (2001) Facing Up to Thatcherism: The History of NALGO 1979-93

External links[edit]