Finance and Legal - history

Chronology of the history of finance sector trade union activism

1913 > The Technical, Administrative and Supervisory Staffs had its origins in the Association of Engineering and Shipbuilding Draughtsmen. This Association later became the Draughtsmen and Allied Technicians Association (DATA) which formed the basis for MSF.

1914 > Engineer Surveyors Association (ESA) formed on December 4th in Birmingham, with Mr J.R. Pollock being the first General Secretary. An attempt was made in 1910 to form an association but the difficulties in organising 400 to 500 men scattered across the Country was immense. In 1912 a society of Engineer Surveyors was formed in Glasgow, it devoted its activities to Educational & social work.

1918 > Meeting of 26 Bank clerks took place in Sheffield. They contributed a gold sovereign each to start what became the Bank Officers Guild. The Amalgamated Managers’ and Foremen’s Association was also founded this year. The first ESA president, Mr T.Bertie was elected.

1919 > Scottish Bankers Association formed.  In England employers retaliated against the Guild by launching internal company associations, some with compulsory or free membership.  National Amalgamated Union of Life Assurance Workers was founded. Engineer Surveyors Association (ESA) registered as a Trade Union on September 9th. Guild of Insurance Officials founded. National Amalgamated Union of Life Assurance Workers founded.

1924 > Bank Officers Guild membership reached 25,000.

1930’s > Scottish Bankers Association affiliated to the TUC and STUC.

1940 > Bank Officers Guild affiliates to TUC. Members of the Engineer Surveyors Association (ESA) vote to affiliate to the TUC. The ESA also affiliated to the NFPW in the same year.  

1941 > Barclays were the first major employer to recognise the Guild.  The first non-clerical staff were recruited.

1942 > Association of Supervisory Staff, Executives and Technicians founded.

1944 > Engineer Surveyors Association (ESA) had 1044  members with 34 branches.

1946 > The Bank Officers Guild and the Scottish Bankers Association merged to form the National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE).  National Union of Insurance Workers founded.

1947/48 > Recognition agreements with Trustee Savings Bank and SCWS.

1950 > Nearly 60,000 bank staff sign pay petition. Followed in 1954 by Conference agreeing ‘Programme for Progress’ and calling for an entirely new salary structure.

1951 > The Liverpool branch of the Engineer Surveyors Association (ESA) donated 30 Guineas for the purchase of an "insignia of office". At the 1957 Annual Conference the ESA President, Mr R.H. Bull was invested with the "Chain of office & Insignia". The purchase of the chain had been made possible by donations from members into a special fund created for this purpose.  

1960 > NUBE won rights in the British Linen, Royal Bank of Scotland, Westminster and William Deacons banks.

1963 > A.G. Brooks appointed NUBE General Secretary.

1964 > Engineer Surveyors Association (ESA) celebrates its Golden Jubilee. 2409 members, 47 branches, 3 sub-branches and 3 Head Office Engineers Sections. The ESA published a book detailing its history and activities over the last 50 years.

1967 > Industrial action in Wales, Blackpool, Bolton, Doncaster and Nottingham over national negotiations.

1968 > National negotiations conceded for the first time in the English banking industry. Scottish banks closed on Saturday mornings.

1969/70 > London clearing banks closed on Saturday mornings. Formal negotiating agreements with Barclays and DCO were followed soon after by other major clearing banks.

1969 > Members of the Engineer Surveyors Association (ESA) vote against a merger with the ASTMS. Guild of Insurance Officials changed its name to the Union of Insurance Staffs.

1971 > Job evaluation structure covering English clearing banks agreed. Negotiating structure in Scotland extended. Union of Insurance Staffs transferred engagements to the ASTMS.

1971 > Technical Administrative and Supervisory Staffs founded. The Industrial Relations Act 1971 came into force during August and it was claimed that the first agency shop agreement made under this act was made by the Engineer Surveyors Association (ESA).

1972 > Leif Mills became General Secretary of NUBE on the retirement of Alf Brooks (who received the OBE). NUBE membership reached 100,000. Engineer Surveyors Association (ESA) suspended from TUC affiliation for registering under the Industrial Relations Act 1971, this was confirmed at the 1973 TUC Congress. At the 1974 ESA conference members voted to re-affiliate with the TUC.

1973/75 > The Bank of Scotland Staff Association and the Royal Bank of Scotland Staff Association merged with NUBE. After a brief period outside, NUBE re-affiliated to the TUC and STUC.

1975 > In July, members of the Engineer Surveyors Association (ESA) voted 1547 for & 283 against over the instrument of transfer of engagements of the ESA to the ASTMS, the turnout was 81.33%. Following this the ESA became the Engineer Surveyors Section (ESS) of ASTMS.  

1976 > NUBE affiliated to the international white-collar organisation FIET.

1977 > Norman Arnold receives the Queens Jubilee medal; he joined the Engineer Surveyors Association (ESA) in 1947 and was the ESA president during its Golden Jubilee year of 1964 to 1965.                    

1978 > GRE members voted to join NUBE.

1979 > NUBE Annual Conference agreed to change the name of the Union to BIFU (the Banking Insurance and Finance Union).  Phoenix Staff Union voted to merge with BIFU.

1980 > Union made legal history by backing the case of two women members in Lloyds claiming equal pension treatment.

1981 > The Eagle Star Staff Union transferred membership to BIFU. The Union’s new Head Office in Wimbledon was opened by TUC General Secretary, Len Murray.

1982 > BIFU membership passed 150,000. Royal Liver and Composite staff joined BIFU.

1984 > Staff association at the Coventry building society merged with BIFU.  TUC established Financial Services Committee under the chairmanship of Leif Mills.

1985 > BIFU became first ever union to petition Parliament to secure better terms for members in BBI on the merger with Barclays Plc.  Midland withdrew from English Clearing Bank Federation. Clearing Bank Union withdrew from talks with BIFU.

1986 > Expansion of financial companies in the City of London with ‘Big Bang’ de-regulation and general hostility to trade union recognition.

1987 > Bank of England Staff Organisation merged with BIFU.  BIFU moves to new Head Office in Raynes Park.

1988 > BIFU membership passes 165,000. Pay negotiations now entirely company based.  BIFU launches major campaigns to spotlight job losses in the City and the threat to credit card jobs posed by a Monopolies and Mergers Commission inquiry.

1988 > Manufacturing, Science and Finance Union founded following merger with ASTMS and TASS. Ken Gill becomes General Secretary of MSF.

1989 > BIFU rules changed to comply with the law to enable election by ballot of top officials and national officers.  Leif Mills elected unopposed as General Secretary.  Northern Rock Staff Association transfers to BIFU. Midland Bank opens first of planned 300 workplace nurseries.

1990 > BIFU membership passes 170,000. Major public campaign – Raidwatch – launched to tackle armed raids on banks and building societies.  Major job losses affect the finance sector.

1991 > BIFU launches Job Safe campaign to highlight the threat to thousands of finance jobs.

1992 > Major campaigns launched to fight job losses – with 70,000 jobs at risk over three years – included a lobby of Parliament.  BIFU run a vigorous and ultimately successful campaign against the hostile bid from Lloyds Bank for the Midland which threatened a further 30,000 jobs. Roger Lyons becomes General Secretary of MSF.

1993 > ‘Year of Equality’ to mark BIFU’s 75th birthday. Equality projects run at all levels throughout the year.  On-going campaign against job losses and attacks on pay and conditions.  Nationwide leafleting of Royal Bank of Scotland customers to protest at compulsory redundancies.  One day national strike on jobs at TSB closed hundreds of branches.

1994 > Designated the ‘Year of Job Protection’ to mark the continuing attack on jobs and High Street branches.  BIFU’s Disablement Advisory Committee organised a lobby of MPs to press for anti-discrimination laws to be extended to people with disabilities.  Campaigns included a highly visible protest at more than 400 sackings in Barclays Bank.

1995 > Industrial action taken in Clydesdale and Barclays over pay.  Two-part campaign is launched against Repetitive Strain Injuries – to persuade employers to take preventative action and to increase government funding of NHS physiotherapy.

1996 > Major campaign launched by BIFU to protect jobs and customer service in Lloyds TSB following the merger of the two banks. Ed Sweeney is elected to the position of General Secretary following the retirement of Leif Mills in March.  Leif is awarded a CBE.

1999 > Nat West Staff Association, Unifi and BIFU merge to form UNIFI.

2001 > MSF and AEEU merge to form Amicus.

2004 > UNIFI merges with Amicus. The Engineer Surveyors Section (ESS) of Amicus celebrates its 90th anniversary.

2004: The Cheltenham & Gloucester Staff Association merges with Amicus (retaining C&GSA name until the merger creating Unite in 2007).

2006 > Amicus ESS convenor at Allianz, Geoff Hayward, became the first UK employee to be elected as a non-executive director on to the Supervisory Board of a European Company (SE) located in Germany.

2007 > Amicus merges with TGWU to form Unite.

If you have any comments, additional dates or further information you would wish to add to this timeline please email Elizabeth Cairns.