Reference number
  • NPW
  • 1913-1982
  • Collection
  • This collection contains: agendas, minutes and papers of national council, executive committee, various sub-committees, special, annual and general conferences, 1919-1982; annual reports, 1921-1982; financial records, 1920-1981; correspondence on a range of subjects, 1913-1980; publications of the NFPW and other bodies, 1921-981; records concerning proposed National Federation of Clerks, 1916; fringe benefits questionnaire, 1963.
  • 30 boxes
Admin history
  • The National Federation of Professional Workers (NFPW) was founded in 1920, largely at the behest of G.D.H. Cole and his colleagues. A slightly earlier attempt to form a federation of professional workers, in the form of the National Federation of Clerks, had been aborted. The inauguration of the NFPW was intended both to encourage white-collar trades union representation and to anticipate the danger of white-collar movements developing, which would be hostile towards traditional trades unionism. Though recognised as an independent body by both the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and by government departments, the NFPW remained true to these intentions. As a result, the declared policy of the NFPW remained to advise non-TUC affiliated members to join the TUC.

    The main function of the NFPW was that of a lobbying organisation, with particular emphasis on the issues of pension rights and safety in the office. Indeed, the NFPW was involved in the promotion of most of the twelve private member Bills on office safety that occurred between its inauguration and the legislation on the issue in the early 1960s. In addition, the NFPW provided statistical and information services for its members. The development of the NFPW was initially hindered by the 1927 Trades Disputes Act, which prompted the disaffiliation of all civil service unions from the Federation. After the war, the repeal of the Act, together with significant affiliations, such as that of NALGO in 1963, resulted in the NFPW representing well over a million workers by 1967. The final annual report of the NFPW revealed that thirty-two bodies were affiliates, representing nearly two million workers.

    Three factors contributed significantly to the demise of the NFPW. The finances of the NFPW had deteriorated to such an extent by 1981 that only a 20% increase in affiliation fees would have ensured that the Federation remained viable. In addition, a majority of the Executive Committee believed both that the NFPW's activities had declined significantly in its last years and that its remaining functions would be better incorporated within the TUC. Finally, the NFPW had suffered a heavy blow in June 1981, with the death of its long-serving General Secretary, John Fryd. The formal decision to dissolve the NFPW was taken at a special conference in March 1982.
  • The reference codes of these records were determined by a superseded catalogue arrangement. The codes are therefore not necessarily in order in the catalogue.
Access status
  • Open