Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union

The Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union, known as the EETPU, was a British trade union formed in 1968 as a union for electricians and plumbers, which went through three mergers from 1992 to now be part of Unite the Union.

Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union
EETPU logo.jpg
Merged intoAEEU
FoundedJuly 1968
Dissolved1 May 1992
HeadquartersHayes Court, Bromley, London[1]
425,000 (1970s)
Key people
Frank Chapple, Eric Hammond
AffiliationsTUC, NFBTO, Labour
Now part of Unite the Union


The union was formed in July 1968 with the merger of the Electrical Trades Union and the Plumbing Trades Union to form the Electrical, Electronic & Telecommunications Union & Plumbing Trades Union, which became the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications & Plumbing Union in 1973.[2] Archives of government papers show that "a period of severe industrial unrest" began in September 1970.[3] Local authority manual workers wanted a £30 minimum weekly wage. A Committee of Inquiry recommended a 14.5 per cent increase, but the government considered it to be too high. In the winter that followed (i.e. winter of 1970/1971) an electricity power workers strike caused the Cabinet to declare a national emergency. The first miners' strike followed in 1972.

For many years the EETPU owned and operated its own Technical Training Department which was based at Cudham Hall in Kent. This received much acclaim and press attention in its day.

In September 1982, Chapple became President of the Trades Union Congress and was succeeded by Eric Hammond in 1984. Chapple was elevated to the House of Lords as Lord Chapple of Hoxton in 1985.[4][5]

In 1986 the union's members replaced print workers that had been sacked by News International, prompting the Wapping dispute that led to the irrevocable change of Fleet Street.

Expulsion from the TUCEdit

The union had its own approach to making deals with companies, and thus often clashed with the TUC from which it was expelled for violating the Bridlington Agreement governing the transfer of members between TUC unions. The EETPU had developed a policy of signing single union agreements in companies where it had few members. In 1987, the TUC asked the EETPU to retract from these agreements at Yuasa (a Japanese battery company), Thorn-EMI and Orion (a Japanese electronics company). The EETPU refused and its 225,000 workers were expelled. Around 5,000 members, led by John Aitkin, decided to split away in order to remain within the mainstream trade union movement, and founded the Electrical and Plumbing Industries Union.[6] It has since been revealed that the union colluded with the Thatcher government in the 1980s, giving advice to ministers about how to 'deal' with left wing unions, and possibly supplied a list of left wing members to the government and security services


The union merged with the Amalgamated Engineering Union to become the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union (AEEU) in May 1992, so the electricians were now part of the TUC. The AEEU was led by Ken Jackson, who belonged to the EETPU. The AEEU merged with the Manufacturing, Science and Finance (MSF) to become Amicus in 2001. Amicus, the largest private sector union with 1.2m workers, was led by Derek Simpson since June 2002. Tony Dubbins, of the NGA in the Wapping dispute, became Joint Deputy General Secretary in 2004. Amicus merged with the Transport and General Workers' Union in May 2007 to become Unite the Union.


A large number of small unions amalgamated with the EETPU:[7]

  • 1980: Steel Industry Management Association, Telecommunications Staff Association, United Kingdom Association of Professional Engineers
  • 1982: British Transport Officers' Guild
  • 1983: Association of Management and Professional Staffs
  • 1984: Rolls-Royce Management Association
  • 1989: Association of British Professional Divers, Ministry of Defence Staff Association, National Association of Senior Probation Officers, Nelson and District Power Loom Overlookers' Association, Springfield Foreman's Association
  • 1990: Haslingden and District Power Loom Overlookers' Association, Institute of Journalists Trade Union, National Association of Fire Officers, National Association of Power Loom Overlookers, Nationally Integrated Caring Employees, Prison Service Union, Television and Film Production Employees' Association
  • 1991: Colne and District Power Loom Overlookers' Association
  • 1992: British Cement Staffs Association

Election resultsEdit

The union sponsored many Labour Party candidates in each Parliamentary election.

Election Constituency Candidate Votes Percentage Position
1970 general election Swindon David Stoddart 25,731 55.5 1[8]
Wakefield Walter Harrison 27,352 58.1 1[8]
Wandsworth Central Tom Cox 19,776 54.0 1[8]
Feb 1974 general election Swindon David Stoddart 24,093 47.9 1[9]
Tooting Tom Cox 18,795 48.3 1[9]
Wakefield Walter Harrison 27,032 51.3 1[9]
Oct 1974 general election Swindon David Stoddart 24,124 51.8 1[10]
Tooting Tom Cox 18,530 54.3 1[10]
Wakefield Walter Harrison 25,616 54.8 1[10]
1979 general election Islington Central John Grant 13,415 51.5 1[11]
Swindon David Stoddart 25,218 50.2 2[11]
Tooting Tom Cox 18,642 51.9 1[11]
Wakefield Walter Harrison 27,124 50.9 1[11]
1982 by-election Birmingham Northfield John Spellar 15,904 36.3 1
1983 general election Birmingham Northfield John Spellar 19,836 37.5 2[12]
Caithness and Sutherland Danny Carrigan 3,325 14.3 3[12]
Kingston upon Hull West Stuart Randall 15,361 41.9 1[12]
Swindon David Stoddart 20,915 36.7 2
Tooting Tom Cox 19,640 42.7 1[12]
Wakefield Walter Harrison 19,166 40.4 1[12]
1987 general election Birmingham Northfield John Spellar 20,889 39.2 2
Kingston upon Hull West Stuart Randall 19,527 51.9 1
Tooting Tom Cox 21,457 44.2 1
1991 by-election Langbaurgh Ashok Kumar 22,442 42.9 1
1992 general election Folkestone and Hythe Peter Doherty 6,347 12.1 3[13]
Gosport M. F. Angus 7,275 13.6 3[13]
Kingston upon Hull West Stuart Randall 21,139 57.3 1[13]
Langbaurgh Ashok Kumar 28,454 43.1 2[13]
Tooting Tom Cox 24,601 48.2 1[13]
Warley West John Spellar 21,386 50.6 1[13]


General SecretariesEdit

1968: Frank Chapple
1984: Eric Hammond

General PresidentsEdit

1968: Les Cannon
1972: Frank Chapple (jointly with general secretary post)
1975: Tom Breakell
1986: Paul Gallagher

Plumbing National SecretariesEdit

1968: Charles Lovell
1988: Bill Gannon


  1. ^ a b Eaton, Jack; Gill, Colin (1981). The Trade Union Directory. London: Pluto Press. pp. 126–134. ISBN 0861043502.
  2. ^ Lloyd, John (1990). Light & liberty : a history of the EETPU. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-79662-3.
  3. ^ "Government archives". www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/cabinetpapers/themes/industrial-unrest.htm. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  4. ^ Goodman, Geoffrey (22 October 2004). "Obituary: Lord Chapple". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  5. ^ "Union leader Lord Chapple dead". BBC News. 20 October 2004. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  6. ^ John B. Smethurst and Peter Carter, Historical Directory of Trade Unions, vol.6, p.207
  7. ^ Gary N. Chaison, Union Mergers in Hard Times: The View from Five Countries, pp. 175–184.
  8. ^ a b c Labour Party, Report of the Sixty-Ninth Annual Conference of the Labour Party, pp. 289–312.
  9. ^ a b c Labour Party, Report of the Seventy-Third Annual Conference of the Labour Party, pp. 371–390.
  10. ^ a b c Labour Party, Report of the Seventy-Third Annual Conference of the Labour Party, pp. 391–411.
  11. ^ a b c d Labour Party, Report of the Seventy-Eighth Annual Conference of the Labour Party, pp. 406–431.
  12. ^ a b c d e General Election Guide. BBC Data Publications. 1983. ISBN 094635815X.
  13. ^ a b c d e f The Times Guide to the House of Commons April 1992, pp. 32–249.

External linksEdit