Issue Date: 01/06/2018
Issue Name: 150th Anniversary of the Trade Union Congress
Producer: Buckingham Covers
The Trade Union Congress celebrates 150 years in 2018 and to commemorate this occasion Royal Mail are issuing a 150th Anniversary TUC commemorative stamp sheet. It is celebrating 150 years of standing up for working people, and is a chance to celebrate its proud history and reach out to a new generation. Our lovely cover feaures an engraving of the Mechanic's Institute in Manchester along with a single 1st class Royal Seal stamp and TUC label (our choice of label), and has a Manchester postmark. This is also available as a pair of covers with all 10 stamps and labels split over two covers.
150th Anniversary of the TUC
Unions in Britain were considered criminal until 1824, but were already widespread in large cities such as London. The growing numbers of factory workers joined these associations in an attempt to achieve better wages and working conditions. From the 1850s more permanent trade unions were established, better resourced but often less radical than their earlier incarnations. The London Trades Council was founded in 1860. The legal status of trade unions in the United Kingdom was established by a Royal Commission on Trade Unions in 1867, which agreed that the establishment of the organisations was to the advantage of both employers and employees.
In 1868, trade unionists from all over the UK gathered at the Mechanics’ Institute in Manchester to hold the first meeting of the Trades Union Congress (TUC). A resolution was passed “that it is highly desirable that the trades of the United Kingdom should hold an annual congress, for the purpose of bringing the trades into closer alliance, and to take action in all Parliamentary matters pertaining to the general interests of the working classes”.
The second TUC meeting took place in 1869 at the Oddfellows Hall, Temple Street, Birmingham where delegates discussed the eight-hour working day, election of working people to Parliament and the issue of free education.
Over the years the TUC grew. In its first decades, they concentrated on influencing government policy, but from the 1920s onwards it took a more active role in industrial matters, playing a key part in co-ordinating the 1926 General Strike. In 1958, the TUC moved into Congress House in central London.
Now Grade II* listed, it was built as a modernist memorial to the trade unionists who died in the two world wars.
150 years on, the TUC continues as a federation of trade unions in England and Wales, representing the majority of trade unions.
There are about fifty affiliated unions, with approximately 5.6 million members. Consulted by governments on policy, the TUC leads opposition to any that it believes attempt to undermine the rights and living standards of working people.