Cambs TUC – History

The History of Cambridge & District TUC

There has been a trades council recorded in Cambridge since 1912.

8 Hour working day demand – 1913 (Cambridge Independent Press)

As the Trades and Labour Council, it played a role in the 1926 General Strike, when one of its problems was the University with its strike-breaking undergraduates. A few of the latter got some rough treatment!

In the 1930s, relations with the University improved as many students joined the Communist Party and took part in trade union activity and worker education. The Trades Council led a large anti-war demonstration through the city in 1939, a filmed record of which still exists. After the War, the Council was able to extend its influence as it became part of the growing Labour and Trade Union movement of the fifties and sixties.

In the 1970s the Council co-ordinated local support both for the student demos and for the many public sector disputes, especially the “Winter of Discontent” of council workers in 1979. One of these council workers, Andrew Murden, later became Chair of Cambridge TUC and initiated the first local unemployed centre, which has survived as the successful Cambridge Benefit Advice Centre.

Cambridge TUC actively supported the miners in 1984/5 and “adopted” two of the striking mining communities in Nottinghamshire, Blidworth and Rainworth. Many lasting friendships were formed.

In the late 1980s, Cambridge TUC became very active in the campaign to end apartheid in South Africa. It made many links with SA trade unionists, particularly the BTR Sarmcol strikers in Natal, and organised a national tour of the “Sisters of the Long March”, a group of NUMSA women who told the story of the strike in a singing and dancing performance.

Since the closure of the Regional TUC office in 1994, the Council has had to play a more prominent role as the voice of trade unionism in the local community.