Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive of the GCHQ Trade Unions includes minutes of members' meetings, 1984-97; Campaign Team minutes, 1992-6; subject files (including re disciplinary action, 1986-9); general correspondence, 1984-97; Warning Signal, 1984-97; and campaign leaflets, 1984-97.

Administrative / Biographical History

The GCHQ campaign began after the decision by the Conservative government in January 1984 to banunions at the GCHQ (Government Communications Head Quarters) intelligence gathering centre inCheltenham. Eventually 14 workers were dismissed because of their refusal to resign their unionmembership. The GCHQ campaign became one of the most important trade union issues during the 1980sand 1990s. With the election of a Labour government in May 1997, the rights of trade unionists at GCHQ were partially restored and the campaign ended.

Reference: Hugh Lanning and Richard Norton-Taylor, A conflict of loyalties : GCHQ 1984-1991, (Cheltenham, 1991)

Conditions Governing Access


The archive is open for research without restriction.

Archivist's Note

The arrangement of this catalogue of the GCHQ Trade Unions archive follows the Centre's standard system of classification. Researchers will also find material on the GCHQ campaign in the registry files of the TUC, which are held at the Centre (ref. MSS.292D/253.144, boxes 905-911), though a ten year closure restriction applies to TUC files. In addition, there is a small deposit of campaign publications, 1984-7, in the Miscellaneous Series (ref. MSS.21/2018/1-8).

Custodial History

The GCHQ Trade Unions archive was deposited at the Centre in December 1997 by Mike Grindley and Brian Johnson, two of the most prominent members of the campaign.