Unity (trade union)

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CATU logo.png
Full name Unity
Founded 1827
Date dissolved 16 April 2015
Merged into GMB
Members 3,906 (2013)[1]
Affiliation TUC, Labour Party[2]
Key people Harry Hockaday, general secretary
Office location Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom
Country United Kingdom
Website www.unitytheunion.org.uk

Unity was a British trade union, created in the early 19th century to protect pottery workers from dangerous conditions of their field.

The union was founded in 1827 as the National Union of Operative Potters, affiliated to the National Association for the Protection of Labour. Based in the Potteries, it was the first union to actively recruit members from outside the area, and focused its efforts on building its strength, and opposing the worst truck shops.[3] While the union collapsed in 1837, a loose federation named the United Branches of Operative Potters, which had been founded by some of its members three years before, ensured trade unionism survived in the industry.[4]

The United Branches thrived, and in 1845 it was a major shareholder in the National Association of United Trades for the Employment of Labour. Secretary William Evans formed the controversial Potters Emigration Society, taking up fears around mechanisation to encourage potters to move to Pottersville, Wisconsin, although the scheme foundered by 1848.[5]

The union later became the National Society of Male and Female Pottery Operatives, and in 1919 the National Society of Pottery Workers. In 1970, it became the Ceramic and Allied Trades Union,[6] and in 2006 it changed its name to Unity.

In 2015, the union merged into the GMB.[7]

General Secretaries[edit]

1906: Joseph Lovatt
1918: Samuel Clowes
1928: Arthur Hollins
1947: Harold Hewitt
1964: Alf Dulson
1975: Les Sillitoe
1980: Alf Clowes
1996: Geoff Bagnall
2012: Harry Hockaday


  1. ^ Unity: annual returns. UK Certification Officer.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 11, 2012. Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  3. ^ John Thomas, The Rise of the Staffordshire Potteries, p.191
  4. ^ John Thomas, The Rise of the Staffordshire Potteries, p.197
  5. ^ Martin Crawford, "Back to the Future? The Potters' Emigration Society and the Historians", Labour History Review, vo.76 no.2, p.81
  6. ^ Wolodymyr Maksymiw et al, The British Trade Union Directory (1990), p.92
  7. ^ GMB, "Unity Votes To Merge With GMB", 12 January 2015

External links[edit]