Showcase: Transport and General Workers' Union
The Transport and General Workers' Union came into being on 1 January 1922 with the amalgamation of fourteen trade unions involved in the transport industry. During the next eighty-six years it absorbed nearly one hundred further unions, becoming the largest trade union in British history and possibly the largest in the free world. It expanded its interests from the transport industry to encompass members in almost every industry in the country. Such was its influence that its first General Secretary, Ernest Bevin, who held office for twenty-three years, was invited by Winston Churchill to serve as Minister of Labour throughout the Second World War, and went on to serve as Foreign Secretary in Clement Attlee's Labour Government. The fourth General Secretary, Frank Cousins, followed in Bevin's political footsteps by serving as Minister of Technology in Harold Wilson's first government. Cousin's successor, Jack Jones, who headed the union at the height of its power in the 1970s, was often described as the most powerful man in Britain. Bill Morris, who headed the union from 1992 to 2003, was the first black General Secretary in British trade union history and was succeeded by Tony Woodley. On 1 May 2007, eighty-five years after its creation, the T&G amalgamated with Amicus to form a new union - Unite.
The Transport and General Workers' Union archive comprises over 1,100 boxes of material, of which over 500 boxes comprises the archive of T&G Central Office, nearly 400 boxes comprise the archive of the T&G Research Department, and the remainder comprise the archives of three former General Secretaries (Ernest Bevin, Jack Jones and Bill Morris) and some eighty predecessor unions, although some are only represented by a handful of documents. The full catalogue of the T&G archive is available online.
All researchers must obtain prior permission from the Transport and General Workers' Union section of Unite in order to examine unpublished material within the T&G archive. Personal permission from Lord Morris is required to examine his papers during his lifetime. Please contact the Modern Records Centre for details.