Back to the future

This story goes back over fifty years. In September 1963, a small group of white collar steelworkers – 24 in number – had a meeting in the upper floor of a Public House in the small town of Shotton in North Wales, just a short distance from the huge steelworks in which they worked.

The reason they were meeting was they were considering to join a Trade Union, the same union as the other blue collar workers at the works. The Divisional Officer [nowadays called the Regional Secretary] of the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation was there by invitation of those wanting a discussion about joining the ISTC.

After an hour or so there was a unanimous decision to join the ISTC and those 24 workers, all from the Wages Office and the Time Office, were the start of a new future for employees of the U.K. steel industry.

The Steelworks in Shotton in 1963 was a large one with over 13,000 employees. The way the company was run was not a bad one, in fact, it was a very good one, and had organised a Staff Guild which had members in every department and met regularly and could raise issues with the Board.

The Guild, however, was not an organisation with any power. The staff had just two weeks holiday, any staff overtime was unpaid, and while the staff salaries were a little better than other industries, the grading system was only paying adult rates to workers over 25 years of age. Women employees were paid  80% of the male salaries. This was why joining a trade union was so important.

Over the next two years the holidays were improved to three weeks, and the pay grades were looked at and changed by the Board. Many other changes gradually took place over the subsequent few years, by which time the 24 original members joining had increased to just over 1,800.

Forty years later the ISTC and other unions had merged together Community was alive and strong. And the future had arrived!

If you are a member of Community and need help or advice, please contact us at or on 0800 389 6332.

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