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GMB union

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GMB union

Full name GMB - Britain's General Union
Founded 31 March 1889[1]
Members 617,000
Country United Kingdom
Affiliation TUC, ICTU, STUC, CSEU, Labour Party[2]
Key people Paul Kenny, General Secretary
Office location London, England

GMB is a general trade union in the United Kingdom, and has more than 617,000 members. Its members are drawn from many sectors, with particular strength amongst manual workers in local government including schools, health care and the ambulance service, security, retail, distribution and the utilities.


GMB originates from a series of mergers, beginning when the National Amalgamated Union of Labour (NAUL), National Union of General Workers (NUGW) and the Municipal Employees Association in 1924 joined into a new union, named the National Union of General and Municipal Workers.

The union merged with many others including the Association of Professional, Executive, Clerical and Computer Staff (APEX), the Furniture, Timber and Allied Trades Union (FTAT) and the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers (NUTGW).

In 1982, following a merger with the Amalgamated Society of Boilermakers, Shipwrights, Blacksmiths and Structural Workers (ASBSBSW), the union was renamed the General, Municipal, Boilermakers and Allied Trade Union, from the initials of which its present name is derived.

Political activity

GMB is one of the three largest affiliates to the Labour Party in the UK alongside UNISON and Unite. It is a significant financial contributor to the party's national and local organisation.[3] The GMB gives Labour more than £2m a year in affiliation fees and other funds, making it the third largest union donor to the party.[4]

In 2008 GMB Congress voted to withdraw local funding from around a third of the 108 Labour MPs whose constituencies received support from the union, due to the perception that some MPs within the party were treating workers with "contempt" and generally not working in the interests of the working class and GMB members.[5] Despite this the Congress opposed disaffliation from the party.

In 2013 it announced it was cutting its affiliation fund from £1.2m to £150,000 by reducing the number of members it affiliates from 420,000 to 50,000.[6]

GMB has two representatives on the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Labour Party; Mary Turner and Andy Worth.

In Ireland, GMB is affiliated to the Irish Labour Party.[7]


GMB is led by a general secretary. In 2005, Paul Kenny was appointed the acting general secretary, in place of Kevin Curran who stepped down after being suspended on full pay during an inquiry into ballot-rigging during the union's leadership election. The episode was seen as a power struggle between the national office and powerful regional heads, led by Kenny, who opposed centralisation. Kenny had lost the 2003 vote to Curran. In May 2006, Kenny was elected unopposed as general secretary.

List of general secretaries of the GMB

Sports sponsorship

GMB are sponsors of the Nottingham Panthers ice hockey team.[8]

Until May 2011 they sponsored Swindon Town Football Club, but when Paolo Di Canio was appointed manager they terminated the relationship because of his political views. A GMB spokesman said "He has openly voiced support for Mussolini so it beggars belief that Swindon could have appointed him, especially given the multi-ethnic nature of the team and the town.".[9] They sponsored League One club Port Vale for the 2013–14 season.[10]

See also

Organized labour portal


External links

  • GMB official website
  • Trade Union Ancestors website
  • GMB Southern Region website
  • GMB Union in AA Automobile Association Website
  • GMB ReachOut Project (North West and Irish Region)
  • Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick
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