Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) Archive
Reference codes, titles and dates of Archive
Reference Code: GB1847 STUC
Title:Records of the Scottish Trades Union Congress
Date of Creation of material: 1897-present
Level of description: Fonds
Extent: 170 metres
Name of Creator: The
Scottish Trades Union Congress
Administrative History: The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) is a completely independent and autonomous trade union centre for Scotland. It is not a Scottish regional organisation of the TUC. It was established in 1897 largely as a result of a political dispute with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) of Great Britain regarding political representation for the Labour movement. A number of meetings were held by the various Scottish trades councils to discuss the situation, resulting in the formation of the STUC in Glasgow, Scotland, in March 1897. From the outset, the STUC was not in competition with the TUC, nor was it a political movement, but sought to ensure that "in any scheme for the government of Scotland provision should be made for the same industrial legislation being applied throughout Great Britain." Close contact was retained with the TUC with reciprocal arrangements existing for mutual assistance and co-operation when the occasion warranted.
The STUC originally had a rented office at 58 Renfield Street, Glasgow, Scotland, in a building belonging to the Scottish Council for Women's Trade. Between 1900 and 1949 they had offices in various locations in Glasgow city centre and the Govanhill area of Glasgow before moving to Woodlands Terrace in the west end of the city in 1949. In 1998, the offices moved to Woodlands Road.
The Annual Congress is the Governing Body of the STUC. From the earliest days, the Congress concerned itself with a wide range of economic and social questions, lobbying British Members of Parliament, and from 1999 the Scottish Parliament and executive, on major issues. Hours and conditions of work and the battles around these issues were always a central preoccupation of the Congress, but it also concerned itself with wider issues such as international affairs, housing, education, transport, peace, racism, and social and economic issues, as well as promoting and supporting joint trades union councils (later re-named trade union councils).
The struggle for independent working class political representation was one of the concerns on which the Congress was founded and in 1900, the Congress was instrumental in establishing the Scottish Workers' Parliamentary Election Committee, a forerunner of the Scottish Council of the Labour Party, which would nominate and support candidates for Parliamentary elections. The Congress was also involved with the Scottish Workers' Representation Committee which continued to function until 1909 when its duties were taken over by the national Labour Party. A Scottish Council of the Labour Party was formed in 1915. Despite this involvement in the process which established the Labour Party, the STUC is not, and has never been, affiliated to any political party.
The STUC has always had active women members. In 1897 a female delegate, Miss M H Irwin, obtained the highest vote in the election of the first Parliamentary Committee (later re-named the General Council), the governing body of the Congress. She was nominated for chairman but declined nomination on the grounds that to appoint a woman chairman at that time was too premature. However, she acted as the Parliamentary Secretary and was also Secretary of the Scottish Council for Women's Trade. The first female President, Miss Bell Jobson, presided at the 1937 Congress. In 1926, the Organisation of Women Committee (later the Women's Advisory Committee, now the Women’s Committee) was established by the Congress, specialising in issues relating particularly to women.
In 1937 the Congress agreed a motion to establish youth fellowships as a way of attracting young people to join the unions, and therefore encourage union membership regardless of sex or age. It was realised that to create separate youth fellowships was restrictive, suggesting that the old and young should work separately. Therefore, in 1938, it was decided to establish the Trade Union Youth Advisory Committee (now called the Youth Committee) encouraging youth sections within the existing unions. The Committee is elected by an annual conference of young trade unionists that deals with youth related issues, and elects a delegation to the Annual Congress which submits 3 motions and amendments like other affiliates. It also organises day and weekend schools and other activities for young trade unionists.
From the 1930s onwards, probably the most important concern of the Congress has been the Scottish economy. The STUC has played its part in the legend of Red Clydeside 1910-1922; the period of militancy and protest by the working people of Glasgow and elsewhere. It has played a role in many historic struggles of the Scottish people including the General Strike of 1926, the post-war reconstruction of Scottish industry, and more recent events like the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders work-in of 1971-1972, the 1984-1985 miners strike and the defeat of the poll tax in the early 1990s. The Congress was instrumental in bringing the motor industry to Bathgate and Linwood, Scotland, in the 1960s the STUC played a central role for many decades in the campaign which established the Scottish Parliament.
By 1947 the STUC consisted of 83 affiliated trades unions with a membership of 671,630. In addition 51 trades councils were affiliated. Membership was made up of members of the Scottish unions and Scottish members of unions covering the British Isles. The period 1977 to 1980 saw membership of the STUC peak to over one million with 80 affiliated unions and 45 trades union counils. A gradual decline of membership then occurred to a total of 634,797 in 2001 with 46 affiliated unions and 33 trades union councils.
The focal point of the STUC is its Annual Congress held in April and attended by delegates from affiliated organisations. It is the Annual Congress which sets down the policy of the STUC and which elects the General Council (known as the Parliamentary Committee until 1923). Between Congresses, it is the General Council which implements policy. The affiliates are divided into seven sections: transport, mining and distribution; steel, engineering and electrical; manufacturing; municipal, general and building; financial, scientific and technical services; civil and public services; education and cultural services; and trades union councils. Each of these sections is represented on the General Council (with a number of places in each section reserved for representatives of women workers), approximately on the basis of its proportion of the total STUC membership. There are also 2 places on the General Council for representatives of black workers, and 2 places for representatives of young (under the age of 26) workers. Whilst the General Council is elected by the whole of Congress, candidates are restricted to standing for election to the section to which their organisation belongs.
In 2007 the STUC has its main offices in Woodlands Road, Glasgow, and a sub office located in the offices of Unison in Belford Road, Edinburgh.
Archival history: Retained by STUC (part retained by NLS).
Immediate source of acquisition: Transferred from STUC, 16 Woodlands Terrace, Glasgow in spring/summer of 1998 with an ongoing moving wall. In 2006 the STUC holdings held by the National Library of Scotland (NLS) were added to the Archive held at GCU.
What is in the Archive
Scope and Content Abstract: The Archive holds all the surviving documentation relating to the STUC and its business from 1897 onwards. The scope of the Archive covers the business of the STUC and its annual Congress , the General Council and its Committees, surviving General Secretary files, STUC publications, non STUC publications relating to STUC business, surviving Trades Councils documentation and a vast selection of issue and subject based folders relating to the work of the STUC. The Archive also holds ephemera, posters and photographs. To date one third of the Archive is catalogued (see details below) and some lists exist for other parts of this large collection. This scope and content will be updated as more material is sorted and listed.
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Identified material to date includes -
Appraisal, Destruction and Scheduling Information:
- Parliamentary Committee minutes 1897-1923 becoming General Council and its Committees minutes and papers 1923 onwards (moving wall with past 8 years kept at STUC offices in Glasgow)
- STUC annual reports 1897-1989 (last annual report published 1989)
- STUC correspondence relating to Congress 1964 to 1980
- General Council reports 1957 onwards (incomplete)
- Congress proceedings on audio tapes 1989-2003
- Annual Congress programmes 1990 onwards
- President's address to Congress 1999 onwards
- Women’s Advisory Committee (WAC) minutes and papers 1926 onwards
- Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) minutes and papers 1938 onwards
- Disputes Committee minutes and papers 1970s to 1980s
- Economic Committee minutes and papers 1950s to 1980s
- Whisky Industry Sub Committee 1970s to 1980s
- Transport Sub Committee 1970s to 1980s
- Energy Sub Committee 1970s to 1980s
- Education Committee minutes and papers 1960s to 1980s
- Entertainment and Arts Sub Committee 1970s to 1980s including material on Mayfest, Scottish Opera, SNO, Scottish Theatre Trust, GFT, Scottish Ballet, Arts Council, and the Glasgow International Jazz Festival
- General Purposes Committee and Finance and General Purposes Committee minutes and papers 1970s to 1980s
- Health and Social Services Committee minutes and papers 1980s
- Organisation Committee minutes and papers 1926 to 1968
- James Jack (General Secretary 1963 to 1965) papers and correspondence 1960s to 1970s
- James Milne (General Secretary 1976 to 1986) papers and correspondence 1970s to 1980s
- The speeches of Campbell Christie (General Secretary 1986 to 1998) 1985 to 1998
- John Henry (Depute General Secretary 1978 to 1988) papers and correspondence 1970s to 1980s
- STUC issues: issues and subject folders relating to STUC business 1960s to 1980s (alphabetic list)
- Further subject papers relating to: electricity privatisation 1987-1988; Scotch Whisky Combined Committee 1977-1981; Work Time Debate Seminar 1996; Petrochemical industry, Grangemouth 1984-1985; Petrochemicals: Highlands and Islands Development Board Committee 1979; Gay and lesbian issues 1993-1995; STUC Lesbian, Gay & Bisexual Forum 1995; Trade Union delegation for Central America 1985; Robert Smillie Fund 1933-1944; Devolution campaign 1970-1984; NHS privatisation 1984-1990; Anti racist march and rally 1999 onwards; and the STUC constitution 1988-1989
- STUC publications 1897 onwards including annual reports, GC reports, Congress programmes, subject specific publications, STUC published histories, circulars 1970s to 1980s, press statments 1970s to 1980s and circulars and statments from 2006 onwards
- Scottish TUC Bulletin 1950-1971
- Scottish Trade Union Review 1978 onwards
- Non STUC publications 1912 to 1990 including TUC reports 1912-1987 (incomplete), TUC General Council reports 1940-1985 (incomplete), Labour Party annual reports 1914-1976 (incomplete), ICTU [Irish Congress of Trade Unions] annual reports 1952-1958 (incomplete), ICTU 1963-1981 (incomplete). Labour Research (publication) 1960-1990
- Trades Councils minutes, correspondence and papers 1880s to 1980s (incomplete) - geographical summary list with dates
This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 1847 procedures.
System of Arrangement:
The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received. Download a summary heirarchy for catalogued material
Getting & using the Archive
Conditions Governing Access: Open by arrangement with the Archivist. The majority of documents can be consulted however permission must be sought for certain areas of the collection.
Copyright/Conditions Governing Reproduction: Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist. Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.
Language of Material: English.
Physical Characteristics: None which affect the use of this material.
Finding Aids: Various handlists exist.
One third of the Archive is electronically catalogued (item level details listed in the individual record's content note) available through GCU's library catalogue.
Other collections of similar subject matter
Location of Originals: This material is original.
Existence of Copies: No known copies.
Related Units of Description: Part of Glasgow Caledonian University Research Collections -
- Research Collections holds various archives and collections which deal with subjects covered by the STUC Archive.
Further details of external organisations and related material can be found on the appropriate links page.
Publication Note: Tuckett, Angela. The Scottish Trades Union Congress :the first 80 years 1897-1977, Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing, 1986.
Aitken, Keith. The bairns o' Adam :the story of the STUC, Edinburgh: Polygon, 1997.
Carole McCallum (University Archivist)
Telephone - +44 (0)141 273 1188
Email - C.McCallum@gcal.ac.uk
Notes relating to the preparation of this description
Description Compilation Details: Compiled by Carole McCallum, University Archivist, 21 February 2002.
Description Alterations: Updated by David Powell, HUB Archivist, 22 July 2002, updated by Carole McCallum, 23 September 2002, 9 April 2003, 11 April 2007, 21 June 2007 (including work by Project Archivist, Kathryn Mackenzie).
18 August, 2009
Edited by: firstname.lastname@example.org