National Federation of Professional Workers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

EC and Conference minutes, 1920-81/2, National Council, 1920-32; inauguration file and some mainly recent subject files; affiliation ledger; annual reports, 1921-82.

Administrative / Biographical 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 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 per cent 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.

Conditions Governing Access


Archivist's Note

The archive has been catalogued to file level. A copy of this catalogue is available in paper format in the Centre's searchroom.

An authority file exists for the National Federation of Professional Workers (GB 152 AAR1281).

Custodial History

17 boxes of selected records were deposited in the Centre on indefinite loan on the 27th July 1982.

Personal Names