The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) was formed in 1889 by the merger of the Amalgamated Society of Telegraph and Telephone Construction Men and the Union of Electrical Operatives. In 1968 it amalgamated with the Plumbing Trades' Union to form the Electrical, Electronic and Telecommunication Union - Plumbing Trades Union (later the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunication and Plumbing Union, EETPU).
In 1891, the union conducted its first strike, losing membership as a result. By 1898 the Union had recovered, and had 702 members organised in 18 branches, with reserve funds of £752. In 1905 the Union first published its journal The Eltradion, the name changing to the Electrical Trades Journal in 1909. By 1910 membership remained relatively low, at under 2,000. In 1935, the Union called for the nationalisation of the electrical industry, which came into effect in 1947.
The first General Secretary of the union, on a part-time basis, was R. Steadman, but the post became full-time when A. J. Walker was appointed in 1891. In 1906 the Union joined the Federation of Engineering and Shipbuilding Trades. Leslie Cannon (1920-1970) was a prominent union official and served as General President from 1963 to 1970. He was a Communist activist, and trade union leader; member of Electrical Trades Union Executive Council, North Lancashire and Merseyside, 1948-1954. He left the Communist Party in 1956. In 1961 he uncovered an ETU ballot rigging scandal, and successfully sued the union.
Reference: Arthur Marsh and Victoria Ryan, Historical Directory of Trade Unions Volume 2 ( Gower, 1984). John Lloyd, Light and Liberty: The History of the EETPU( London, 1990).