The Transport and General Workers' Union, also known as the TGWU and the T&G, was one of the largest general trade unions in the United Kingdom and Ireland - where it was known as the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers' Union (ATGWU) - with 900,000 members (and was once the largest trade union in the world). It was founded in 1922, and its final general secretary was Tony Woodley.
In 2007 it merged with Amicus to form Unite.
At the time of its creation in 1922, the TGWU was the largest and most ambitious amalgamation brought about within trade unionism. Its structure combined regional organisation, based on Districts and Areas, with committee organisation by occupation, based on six broad Trade Groups. Trade groups were not closely linked to trades, but were elected by activists. Officials of the union were grouped by region, and could be asked to serve each or any trade group. The amalgamating unions were:
Administrative, Clerical and Supervisory Group
noted for an enquiry by the Certification Office in 2006 into board members who had joined the union within six months of being elected to senior posts
Passenger Services and Road Transport (Commercial) Groups
General Workers' Group
The Dundee Pilots was a trade union in the United Kingdom. It merged with the Transport and General Workers' Union in 1945.
The Scottish Union of Dock Labourers and National Union of Dock, Riverside and General Workers in Great Britain and Ireland initially voted not to amalgamate, but joined before the end of 1922 nonetheless. The Greenock Sugar Porters' Union, Dundee Flax and Jute Stowers' Society, National Union of British Fishermen, and Belfast Breadservers' Association had also joined before the end of the year.
Several specialised unions voted later to merge with the TGWU, the last being the Community and Youth Workers' Union, whose members approved the merger on 13 September 2006, with the formal merger being approved by the Trades Union Certification Officer on 8 January 2007. For a full list, see the list of TGWU amalgamations.
The Transport and General Workers' Union spearheaded the campaign for the registration of Gangmasters in the UK, sponsoring an Act of Parliament which received the Royal Assent on 8th July 2004.
discussions started between the TGWU, Amicus
and the GMB
about the possibility of merging the three unions into one organisation with potentially 2.5 million members covering almost every sector of the economy. On 14 June 2006
the GMB Conference voted not to continue with discussions although the other two unions are proceeding, with delegates approving the proposed 'Instrument of Amalgamation' at a special conference on December 18 2006. The ballot of both unions' membership during February and early March 2007, also approved the merger. The result of the ballot was announced on 2007-03-08
: 86.4% of T&G members and 70.1% of Amicus members voted to support the merger, from a turnout of 27%. The press release announced that the resulting union had the working title "New Union" and the name would be decided by a ballot of the membership.
However, on 2007-04-02
, The Times
reported that the name Unite
had been chosen.
Regions - particularly Region One which covered London, the South East and Eastern England, also had a tradition of donating to other causes, as did branch committees, which controlled a substantial proportion of membership income.
- Ernest Bevin, 1922-1945
- Arthur Deakin (acting), 1940-1945
- Arthur Deakin, 1945-1955
- Jock Tiffin, 1955
- Frank Cousins, 1956-1969
- Harry Nicholas (acting), 1964-1966
- Jack Jones, 1969-1978
- Moss Evans, 1978-1984
- Ron Todd, 1985-1992
- Bill Morris, 1992-2003
- Tony Woodley, 2003-2007
The list of TGWU amalgamations
highlights the scale of the TGWU policy of mergers, amalgamations and transfers of engagements, which contributed to its membership growth and the spread of its membership base.