Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union

The Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union, known as the EETPU, was a British trade union formed in 1968 as a union for electricians and plumbers, which went through three mergers from 1992 to now be part of Unite the Union.

Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union
Merged intoAEEU
FoundedJuly 1968
Dissolved1 May 1992
HeadquartersHayes Court, Bromley, London[1]
425,000 (1970s)
Key people
Frank Chapple, Eric Hammond
AffiliationsTUC, NFBTO, Labour
Now part of Unite the Union


The union was formed in July 1968 with the merger of the Electrical Trades Union and the Plumbing Trades Union to form the Electrical, Electronic & Telecommunications Union & Plumbing Trades Union, which became the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications & Plumbing Union in 1973.[2] Archives of government papers show that "a period of severe industrial unrest" began in September 1970.[3] Local authority manual workers wanted a £30 minimum weekly wage. A Committee of Inquiry recommended a 14.5 per cent increase, but the government considered it to be too high. In the winter that followed (i.e. winter of 1970/1971) an electricity power workers strike caused the Cabinet to declare a national emergency. The first miners' strike followed in 1972.

For many years the EETPU owned and operated its own Technical Training Department which was based at Cudham Hall in Kent. This received much acclaim and press attention in its day.

In September 1982, Chapple became President of the Trades Union Congress and was succeeded by Eric Hammond in 1984. Chapple was elevated to the House of Lords as Lord Chapple of Hoxton in 1985.[4][5]

In 1986 the union's members replaced print workers that had been sacked by News International, prompting the Wapping dispute that led to the irrevocable change of Fleet Street.

Expulsion from the TUC

The union had its own approach to making deals with companies, and thus often clashed with the TUC from which it was expelled for violating the Bridlington Agreement governing the transfer of members between TUC unions. The EETPU had developed a policy of signing single union agreements in companies where it had few members. In 1987, the TUC asked the EETPU to retract from these agreements at Yuasa (a Japanese battery company), Thorn-EMI and Orion (a Japanese electronics company). The EETPU refused and its 225,000 workers were expelled. Around 5,000 members, led by John Aitkin, decided to split away in order to remain within the mainstream trade union movement, and founded the Electrical and Plumbing Industries Union.[6] It has since been revealed that the union colluded with the Thatcher government in the 1980s, giving advice to ministers about how to 'deal' with left wing unions, and possibly supplied a list of left wing members to the government and security services


The union merged with the Amalgamated Engineering Union to become the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union (AEEU) in May 1992, so the electricians were now part of the TUC. The AEEU was led by Ken Jackson, who belonged to the EETPU. The AEEU merged with the Manufacturing, Science and Finance (MSF) to become Amicus in 2001. Amicus, the largest private sector union with 1.2m workers, was led by Derek Simpson since June 2002. Tony Dubbins, of the NGA in the Wapping dispute, became Joint Deputy General Secretary in 2004. Amicus merged with the Transport and General Workers' Union in May 2007 to become Unite the Union.


A large number of small unions amalgamated with the EETPU:[7]

  • 1980: Steel Industry Management Association, Telecommunications Staff Association, United Kingdom Association of Professional Engineers
  • 1982: British Transport Officers' Guild
  • 1983: Association of Management and Professional Staffs
  • 1984: Rolls-Royce Management Association
  • 1989: Association of British Professional Divers, Ministry of Defence Staff Association, National Association of Senior Probation Officers, Nelson and District Power Loom Overlookers' Association, Springfield Foreman's Association
  • 1990: Haslingden and District Power Loom Overlookers' Association, Institute of Journalists Trade Union, National Association of Fire Officers, National Association of Power Loom Overlookers, Nationally Integrated Caring Employees, Prison Service Union, Television and Film Production Employees' Association
  • 1991: Colne and District Power Loom Overlookers' Association
  • 1992: British Cement Staffs Association

Election results

The union sponsored many Labour Party candidates in each Parliamentary election.

1970 general electionSwindonDavid Stoddart25,73155.51[8]
WakefieldWalter Harrison27,35258.11[8]
Wandsworth CentralTom Cox19,77654.01[8]
Feb 1974 general electionSwindonDavid Stoddart24,09347.91[9]
TootingTom Cox18,79548.31[9]
WakefieldWalter Harrison27,03251.31[9]
Oct 1974 general electionSwindonDavid Stoddart24,12451.81[10]
TootingTom Cox18,53054.31[10]
WakefieldWalter Harrison25,61654.81[10]
1979 general electionIslington CentralJohn Grant13,41551.51[11]
SwindonDavid Stoddart25,21850.22[11]
TootingTom Cox18,64251.91[11]
WakefieldWalter Harrison27,12450.91[11]
1982 by-electionBirmingham NorthfieldJohn Spellar15,90436.31
1983 general electionBirmingham NorthfieldJohn Spellar19,83637.52[12]
Caithness and SutherlandDanny Carrigan3,32514.33[12]
Kingston upon Hull WestStuart Randall15,36141.91[12]
SwindonDavid Stoddart20,91536.72
TootingTom Cox19,64042.71[12]
WakefieldWalter Harrison19,16640.41[12]
1987 general electionBirmingham NorthfieldJohn Spellar20,88939.22
Kingston upon Hull WestStuart Randall19,52751.91
TootingTom Cox21,45744.21
1991 by-electionLangbaurghAshok Kumar22,44242.91
1992 general electionFolkestone and HythePeter Doherty6,34712.13[13]
GosportM. F. Angus7,27513.63[13]
Kingston upon Hull WestStuart Randall21,13957.31[13]
LangbaurghAshok Kumar28,45443.12[13]
TootingTom Cox24,60148.21[13]
Warley WestJohn Spellar21,38650.61[13]


General Secretaries

1968: Frank Chapple
1984: Eric Hammond

General Presidents

1968: Les Cannon
1972: Frank Chapple (jointly with general secretary post)
1975: Tom Breakell
1986: Paul Gallagher

Plumbing National Secretaries

1968: Charles Lovell
1988: Bill Gannon


  1. Eaton, Jack; Gill, Colin (1981). The Trade Union Directory. London: Pluto Press. pp. 126–134. ISBN 0861043502.
  2. Lloyd, John (1990). Light & liberty : a history of the EETPU. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-79662-3.
  3. "Government archives". www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/cabinetpapers/themes/industrial-unrest.htm. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  4. Goodman, Geoffrey (22 October 2004). "Obituary: Lord Chapple". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  5. "Union leader Lord Chapple dead". BBC News. 20 October 2004. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  6. John B. Smethurst and Peter Carter, Historical Directory of Trade Unions, vol.6, p.207
  7. Gary N. Chaison, Union Mergers in Hard Times: The View from Five Countries, pp. 175–184.
  8. Labour Party, Report of the Sixty-Ninth Annual Conference of the Labour Party, pp. 289–312.
  9. Labour Party, Report of the Seventy-Third Annual Conference of the Labour Party, pp. 371–390.
  10. Labour Party, Report of the Seventy-Third Annual Conference of the Labour Party, pp. 391–411.
  11. Labour Party, Report of the Seventy-Eighth Annual Conference of the Labour Party, pp. 406–431.
  12. General Election Guide. BBC Data Publications. 1983. ISBN 094635815X.
  13. The Times Guide to the House of Commons April 1992, pp. 32–249.