White collar unionism


The period 1945-1995 saw a major increase in white collar employment with a parallel expansion in the union organisation of those workers as a specific and separate group with different values and concerns. There were rivalries between manual and non-manual workers over status, salaries and other benefits. Problems of definition led to disputes over union recruitment, but by the end of the period many white collar unions had disappeared or merged to form general unions.

Resources available on this site related to white collar unionism:

Read a learning narrative on white collar unionism, a paper written by Professor Robert Carter, De Montfort University.

View images relating to white collar unionism.

Hear audio interviews.

Search the collection for resources relating to "White collar unionism or non-manuel workers").

Examples of interview resources:

I wanted to form a chapel. And that was contrary to rule, you know, you needed more than three people, five or ten or something, so I went to the annual delegate meeting when it was called and succeeded in moving a rule change, so that rule five now says, 'If there are three or more journalists at one place, they can form a chapel.

Chris Birch, former journalist, describing his experience as a union steward. Read and hear more


My dad put me into it. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I just wanted to leave school at sixteen. None of my family had ever been to university. We hardly knew what universities were! I thought universities were Oxford and Cambridge where people of the aristocracy went! We didn’t know anything about universities at all. And also I was a bit fed up with school and I just wanted to get out of school and get a job. My father thought it was a good idea to go and work for a bank because he’d been unemployed a bit before the war and security was his main aim for his son. I had an uncle, my favourite uncle called Uncle Jack. And he lived in Nottingham. And I used to go up there and see him sometimes. And he said, ‘What you going to do, John, when you leave school?’ And I said, ‘Oh, I don’t know, Uncle Jack.’ ‘Well, whatever you do,’ he said, ‘get a job where you don’t have to take your jacket off!’

John Grigg, bank manager. Read and hear more