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Engineering unions

A brief history

Amalgamated Society of Engineers, Machinists, Millwrights, Smiths and Pattern Makers emblem1851 - The Amalgamated Society of Engineers, Machinists, Smiths, Millwrights and Pattern Makers was formed as a merger of several engineering unions. The name was shortened to the Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE)

The union’s immediate objectives included:

* that systematic overtime be abolished;

* that the number of apprentices be restricted to one per four journeymen; and

* that there be opposition to entry into the trade of ‘illegal men’ who had not served their time in the industry.

Marsh and Ryan’s Historical Directory of Trade Unions states that people wishing to join the society had to be a ‘sober and efficient workman and to be free from any physical defects likely to affect his ability as a workman’. For example men who wore spectacles were not admitted, and the Bridgwater Branch felt it necessary to consult the Executive Committee before admitting ‘a worker who is a little round shouldered’.

1920 - The ASE amalgamated with nine other unions to form the Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU).

  • Steam Engine Makers Society
  • United Kingdom Society of Amalgamated Smiths and Strikers
  • United Machine Workers Association
  • Amalgamated Association of Brass Founders, Turners, Fitters, Finishers and Coppersmiths
  • North of England Brass Turners, Fitters and Finishers Society
  • London United Metal Turners, Fitters and Finishers Society
  • East of Scotland Brass Founders Society
  • Amalgamated Society of General Tool Makers, Engineers and Machnists
  • Amalgamated Instrument Makers Society

1968 - the Amalgamated Union of Foundry Workers joined and the name was changed to the Amalgamated Union of Engineering and Foundry Workers (AEF).

1970 - amalgamation with the Draughtsmen and Allied Technicians Association and the Constructional Engineering Union to form the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers (AUEW).

1986 - name changed to Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU).

1992 - amalgamated with the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunication and Plumbing Union to form the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union (AEEU).

2001 - merged with the Manufacturing, Science and Finance Union to form Amicus.

2007 - Amicus merged with the Transport and General Workers Union to form Unite.

Unite still exists today, click here to visit their Web site


Resources in the Library
Amalgamated Engineering Union badge

AEU badge

Given Library founder Eddie Frow's involvement in the AEU it is not surprising that the Library has a large amount of engineering union material. At national level there are good runs of the Amalgamated Engineering Union's monthly journal and reports and National Committee reports. Reports and minutes of the Amalgamated Machine, Engine and Iron Grinders and Glazers' Society date from the late nineteenth century and are possibly unique as they came from the union's head office. AEU divisional and district records include attendance registers, correspondence and minutes. Those of the Stockport District relate to the strike at Roberts-Arundel (textile machinery manufacturers) in the 1960s and are accompanied by three volumes of press cuttings compiled by the strike committee.

There is an interesting run of aircraft engineering shop stewards' newspaper New Propellor from the mid-1930s to mid-1940s.

The records of a number of local branches of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers and the Amalgamated Engineering Union are mainly minutes.

One very early item of interest in our collection is Rules and orders to be observed by the Friendly Society of Journeymen Millwrights held at the house of Mr Halletts, the sign of The Britannia, Little Britain, 1807 (Shelfmark: J30)

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