Our history

We have always been a part of the trade union movement in the UK’s industrial towns and cities. Over the decades, as the world of work has changed, we have changed too – Read our story.

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Our story

Community was formed in 2004 when the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation and the Knitwear, Footwear and Apparel Trade Union joined together. These two traditional unions had deep roots and strong regional identities in the UK’s steel, textiles and footwear towns. Their members had experienced large-scale de-industrialisation through the eighties and nineties.

Traditionally, once a factory or steelworks closed the union would leave too. Community’s founding unions took a different approach, particularly in the steel industry.

They stayed to help their members retrain and find new work and continued to represent people in their new jobs, in new industries. The union became a voice for those communities, not just the people still working in the traditional industries.


Our history stretches back over 100 years.

This approach attracted other unions to join with the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation. Carpet weavers, based around Kidderminster and Axminster, had also seen their industry transform as production moved overseas.

The Power Loom, Carpet Weavers and Textile Workers union joined the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation in 2000 as it began to change into a community union.

The National League of the Blind and Disabled (NLBD) also joined in 2000. It was founded in 1899 as the first organisation for disabled people in the UK.

It had a strong record of political campaigning to win rights, recognition and support for disabled people, so the idea of being part of a community-focused union appealed to its members.

Since Community was formed, other smaller, like-minded unions joined us, helping to create the diverse union that we are today. The National Union of Domestic Appliance and General Operatives, the union for people manufacturing white goods, joined us in 2006. And in 2008 the British Union of Social Work Employees, which included NSPCC employees, also made the decision to be part of Community.

Members of the Prison Service Union joined us in 2013. This means that Community now represents more people in privatised justice, custodial and immigration services than any other trade union.

Community’s Justice Sector Committee campaigns on the issues that matter to our members.

Most recently, our membership has extended into office and professional sectors. UFS, which represents finance staff, primarily within Zurich, transferred into Community in 2017. One year later, members of the West Bromwich Building Society Staff Union voted to join us.

In 2019, Community continues to welcome unions into the family, with members of the Blue Chip Staff Association (BCSA) transferring into Community.

Together, we are Community. The modern union for a changing world.

This video was produced to mark the centenary of one of Community’s founding unions – the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation. It tells the union’s story from its early roots through to the formation of Community and our aims for the future of work.

2017 marks 100 years since the creation of one of Community's predecessor unions - the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation. This video looks at the past century, and towards the next chapter of our journey as the modern union for a changing world.
Our future

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