CLWTC came out of Trades Councils in Marylebone and Paddington and bodies in Victoria, Millbank and Smithfield. It emerged as CLWTC in 1953.

As the centre of London. it inherited a long and distinguished history. From the Peasants Revolt in the 14th century, through the Levellers in the 17th, the Cato Street "Conspirators" & the Chartists in the early 19th there has been a strong radical tradition. The area has been a cockpit of key events - including those in Trafalgar Square, Westminster and Whitehall.

In the middle and late 1800s there was a great deal of trade union and political activity. Campaigns about dock work, local health, unemployment and poverty marked the century. Agitation over democracy and the vote, international issues, education and medical provision were high on the local agenda. Women's suffrage developed as a big issue in the area at the end of the century.

Social conditions were also harsh - the typhoid and cholera outbreaks of the mid-19th century, the "rookeries" from St Giles to Covent Garden and modern day Aldwych, the famous workhouses such as Marylebone. All this is part of what we inherit.

In the big industrial battles of the 20th century Westminster was prominent - from the battles before the First World War, through the General Strike, the unemployed protests of the 30s and the fight against fascism at home and abroad,

Since 1953 the TC has been a focus for working class activity and support of trade unionists in struggle. In the late 60s it took a role in the fight against the attempts to shackle the unions - In Place of Strife under Labour and the Industrial Relations Act under the Tories. Important disputes were supported like the sewing machinists at Ford in the mid-1960s, Trico equal pay strike in West London in the early 70s, disputes at Fords, in the print & engineering, the miners strikes of 72 & 74, the whole campaign against the Industrial Relations Act and in particular the fight to free the Pentonville 5 in 1972. The links forged then led  to CLWTC taking on the Annual Commemoration of the Pentonville 5.


The Trades Council was also closely involved in the various struggles for national liberation. The Vietnam struggle, the fight against the apartheid regime in South Africa (particularly with South Africa House in the middle of Westminster), liberation struggles in Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Zimbabwe, Cuba, East Timor all featured in our work. Several delegates had played leading roles in opposing British policy in Malaya, India and Burma. There was always a strong link to struggles in Ireland having established ties with Dublin Trades Council in the early 1970s and then a twinning arrangement with the newly formed Craigavon Trades Council in 1973-4 leading to delegation exchanges. These involved meetings with Trades Councils in Strabane, Dungannon, Newry and Belfast.

Locally there has been a continual battle with the Tory administration running Westminster City Council and the undemocratic oligarchy who run the City of London. For many years Westminster council services and jobs have been under attack through cuts and privatisation.

Local hospitals have seen similar cuts. There have been campaigns to defend the NHS services in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and continue today. Similar experiences come from education, post, telecoms, transport and the ciivil service.

The demise of manufacturing in the area - once covering trades like furniture making (particularly north of Oxford Street), garment making, the print centre around Fleet Street, skilled engineering in the Paddington area - has made the whole area the weaker for it.

In the City we have seen the massive loss of jobs in banking and insurance through the 80s and 90s and the changes in the telecom industry.

We have seen the squeeze on the fire services in the area - most recently the closure of Manchester Square station. Victoria bus garage has gone along with numerous other jobs. Aldwych tube closed.

CLWTC was intimately involved in the Miners Strike of 1984-5, the battle for Fleet Street a year or so later, the big campaign against council cuts in the 80s, various civil service battles in the 80s and 90s and which continue today. Transport has always been a key concern for CLWTC given the large numbers who have to travel in to the area for work.


Workers and the services they provide have been under continuous attack by our current economic system and there have been stunning victories and bitter defeats. Throughout the trade union movement has sustained a strong and vigorous struggle. CLWTC has been a key part of that in Westminster and the City.

CLWTC was closely involved in the struggle for equality for women from its earliest years. Support for disputes such as Fords machinists, Trico, print clerical workers, and civil service pay & conditions were part of the TC work over the years.

CLWTC was a supporter of many key disputes in London including Grunwick, Bus workers, fight against Murdoch from Fleet Street to Wapping, Hillingdon hospital, builders strikes, Garners Steak Houses, Claridges kitchen staff, cleaning & service workers, Shelter staff,  BT privatisation, tube strikes, Ford workers, NHS struggles and so on - the full list is very long.

Some of the struggles and campaigns are covered n the History picture gallery.

© 2019 contact: 07818 421 327 email: [email protected] address: CLWTC, Ruskin House, 23 Coombe Road, CRO 1BD