Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union

Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union

in 2001.

The history of the union can be traced back to the formation of the "Old Mechanics" of 1826, which grew into the Amalgamated Society of Engineers in 1851. Many local and regional unions joined the ASE in subsequent years and in 1920, after the acquisition of nine fresh member unions, the name of the organisation was changed to the Amalgamated Engineering Union.The AEU continued to grow and absorb smaller unions. Its largest membership growth came during the Second World War when its all-male membership voted to admit women for the first time and 100,000 joined almost immediately. However, the AEU also lost its overseas branches in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, who became independent unions.

The AEU merged with the foundry workers union NUFW in 1967 and the draughtsmen's union DATA in 1971 to form the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers, AUEW. That merger was torn apart by political and industrial differences between the blue- and white-collar sections and the former DATA became Technical, Administrative and Supervisory Staff, TASS before merging with Clive Jenkins' white-collar union ASTMS to form Manufacturing Science Finance, MSF.

The rest of the AUEW returned to the AEU name, absorbing the Construction Engineering Union and the small roll-turners union. The AEU became a mainstay of the moderate right in the trade union movement through the 1980s and 1990s, leading the manufacturing unions in 1989-91 in a successful push for a shorter working week, but failing to merge with a number of unions, notally the building workers union UCATT.

In 1992 the AEU finally achieved a merger with the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union, EETPU, after a hundred years of off and on discussions. [Light and Liberty, John Lloyd, 1990] . The new union took the name Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union []

Amalgamated Society of Engineers

The original ASE was one of the 'New Model Unions' of the 1850s-1870s. These unions, which also included the Ironfounders, Builders, and Carpenters' societies, rejected Chartism and the ideas of Robert Owen in favour of a more moderate policy based on 'prudence', 'respectability' and steady growth. Great importance was attached to the question of finance, as substantial funds would not only provide maintenance for members involved in strike action, but also help to deter the employers from attacking the organisation. Since its members were skilled and relatively highly paid, it was possible for the ASE to charge contributions of one shilling a week and to build up a fund of unprecedented proportions.

In 1852 and 1896, the ASE was involved in extended national lockouts which greatly weakened the organisation.

General Secretaries

*1851: William Allan
*1875: John Burnett
*1890: John Burns
*1896: George Nicoll Barnes
* Jenkin Jones
*1913: Robert Young
*1919: Tom MannAEU
* Ben Gardner
* Jim ConwayAUEW Engineering Section
*1975: John McFarlane BoydAEU
*1982: Gavin H LairdAEEU
* 1992: Joint general secretaries Sir Gavin Laird (trade unionist) CBE and Eric Hammond OBE (trade unionist)
* 1994: Paul Gallagher
*1995: Ken Jackson
*2002: Derek Simpson


*1920: James Thomas Brownlie
*1939: Jack Tanner
*1956: William Carron
*1968: Hugh Scanlon
*1978: Terence Duffy
*1986: Bill Jordan
*1996: Davey Hall

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