Iron and Steel Trades Confederation (ISTC), the British Iron, Steel and Kindred Trades Association (BISAKTA) and predecessors

Scope and Content

Rules and related records, 1912-1995; records concerning the formation of the ISTC and other amalgamations, 1890-1997; executive council and finance committee records, 1917-1999; education sub committee records, 1958-1962; consultative committee minutes, 1917-1922; annual and biennial delegate conference records, 1976-1998; area committee reports, 1927-1953; divisional conference and sub committee records,1922-1997; rough cash books, 1945-1949; records relating to branches, negotiations with employers, aspects of the iron and steel industry and other issues, organisations and indviduals, (1865)-2000; records relating to the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and industrial tribunals, 1898-2000; records relating to other trade unions, including records of predecessors, and related bodies (1872)-2000; records relating to countries outside the United Kingdom, 1903-2000; records relating to the British Steel Corporation (BSC) and related bodies, 1967-1999; divisional correspondence and related records, 1917-1991; general correspondence with branches and related records, 1921-c1994; circulars, 1919-1997; members' journals (various titles), quarterly and annual reports and other publications, 1917-2004; records concerning staffing, 1916-1993; records concerning compensation claims arising from industrial accidents and illness, c1897-1999; records concerning a range of legal issues, 1965-1999; records of Central 1 branch, 1932-1939, and a Newport branch, 1924-1957; records of convalescent homes, 1946-1981

Administrative / Biographical History

The Iron and Steel Trades Confederation (ISTC), which was the largest union in the steel industry, was formed in 1917. The British Steel Smelters, Mill, Iron, Tinplate and Kindred Trades Association (BSSMITKTA) (founded 1886), the Associated Iron and Steel Workers of Great Britain (AISWGB) (founded 1887) and the National Steel Workers' Association Engineering and Labour League (NSWAELL) (founded 1888) formed the Confederation and agreed to transfer their industrial relations functions to the new organisation. The confederated unions were restricted thereafter to membership and benefit administration and recruited no new members. New members joined the British Iron, Steel and Kindred Trades Association (BISAKTA), the central association of the ISTC. By means of these complicated arrangements the legal restrictions on amalgamations, imposed by the Trade Union (Amalgamation) Act 1917, were circumvented.

The Amalgamated Society of Steel and Iron Workers (founded 1888) and the Tin and Sheet Millmen's Association (founded 1899) joined the ISTC in 1919 and 1921 respectively. In 1924 the Constructional Engineering Union was formed by the transfer of members to it by ISTC confederated unions. On 1 January 1984 BISAKTA assumed the name of the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation and took over all the functions and assets of the body formerly holding that name. In 1985 the National Union of Blastfurnacemen, Ore Miners, Coke Workers and Kindred Trades transferred its engagements to the ISTC.

With effect from 1 July 2004, the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation merged with the National Union of Knitwear, Footwear & Apparel Trades to form Community, the Union for Life. ISTC became the ISTC Section of the new union.

Reference: Sir Arthur Pugh, 'Men of steel' (London, 1951) and Jack Owen 'Ironmen. A short story of the history of the Union', National Blastfurnacemen, Ore Miners, Coke Workers and Kindred Trades, 1953.

ISTC quarterly reports for 2004 held at the Modern Records Centre (MSS.36/ISTC/4/15).


All the records received under reference MSS.36 were recatalogued in 2006 and 2007. Most of those which were records of predecessors of the ISTC or of unions which later merged with it or of other related bodies have been catalogued separately (see related material below), but this catalogue still includes records which pre-date the formation of the ISTC and the BISAKTA. Some files opened by the Associated Iron and Steel Workers of Great Britain (AISWGB) were evidently incorporated in the ISTC's system (e.g. MSS.36/R19) but the bulk of the earlier material apparently originated in the offices of the British Steel Smelters, Mill, Iron, Tinplate and Kindred Trades Association (BSSMIKTA).

The records in the first MSS.36 deposit were originally catalogued in the order of the original alpha-numeric file references. These were usually made up of the first letter of the file title plus a number. But since the naming of files was not consistent, related records did not necessarily all get the same file reference whilst sometimes unrelated records did. From the 1970s a decimal classification scheme was introduced. Whilst the original references have been used as the basis for the arrangement in some parts of this revised catalogue, in other parts this was not possible either because an item did not have a reference or because it consisted of documents seemingly taken from a number of original files. In other parts the original references were not the best means of bringing related to material together, for the reasons explained above.

Access Information

This collection is available to researchers by appointment at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick. See

Acquisition Information

The first deposit of records under reference MSS.36 was made by the ISTC in April 1974. Further deposits were received in March 1977, July 1977, September 1977, November 1977, September 1978, February 1979, April 1990, January 1996, December 1997, November 2000 and May 2003. Accession 597 was deposited by Community, the successor trade union, in 2007.

Other Finding Aids

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this archive, apart from the requirements of copyright law.

Appraisal Information

This collection has been weeded for duplicates and for records not deemed to be of long-term research value.

Related Material

The Centre also holds records of: the Associated Iron and Steel Workers of Great Britain; the British Steel Smelters, Mill, Iron, Tinplate and Kindred Trades Association (earlier the British Steel Smelters Amalgamated Association); the National Union of Blastfurnacemen, Ore Miners, Coke Workers and Kindred Trades; Community. Also the papers of Monty Hughes, ISTC official at Shotton steelworks.