|Date dissolved||1 May 1992|
|Merged into||Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union|
|Affiliation||TUC, CSEU, IMF, Labour|
|Office location||110 Peckham Road, London|
The Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU) was a major British trade union. It merged with the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union to form the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union in 1992.
The history of the union can be traced back to the formation of the Journeymen Steam Engine, Machine Makers' and Millwrights' Friendly Society, in 1826, popularly known as the "Old Mechanics". They invited a large number of other unions to become part of what became the Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE).
In 1920, the ASE put out a fresh call for other unions to merge with it in a renamed Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU). Seventeen unions balloted their members on a possible merger, and nine voted in favour of amalgamation:
- Amalgamated Association of Brass Turners, Fitters, Finishers and Coppersmiths
- Amalgamated Instrument Makers' Society
- Amalgamated Society of General Tool Makers, Engineers and Machinists
- East of Scotland Brass Founders' Society
- London United Metal Turners', Fitters' and Finishers' Society
- North of England Brass Turners', Fitters' and Finishers' Society
- Steam Engine Makers' Society (SEM)
- United Kingdom Society of Amalgamated Smiths and Strikers
- United Machine Workers' Association
In 1922 employers, represented by the Engineering Employers' Federation, launched an industry-wide lockout in an attempt to reverse the gains made by the AEU during WWI and its aftermath. Exploiting the downturn in economic conditions in the engineering industry, they demanded the union forfeit control over overtime. The lockout lasted from 11 March to 13 June and involved 260,000 workers, 90,000 of them represented by the AEU. The lockout ended with the union conceding some of the employers' demands.
The AEU continued to grow and absorb smaller unions. From 1926, it accepted members who had not completed an apprenticeship. In 1933, it had 168,000 members, and 390,900 by the end of the decade. Its largest membership growth came during the Second World War when its all-male membership voted to admit women for the first time and 100,000 joined almost immediately, membership reaching 825,000 by 1943. However, the AEU also lost its overseas branches in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, which became independent unions.
The AEU merged with the Amalgamated Union of Foundry Workers (AUFW) on 1 January 1968 to form the Amalgamated Union of Engineering and Foundry Workers (AEF), and with the Draughtsmen and Allied Technicians' Association (DATA) and Constructional Engineering Union in 1971 to form the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers (AUEW). The union was now organised on a federal basis, with four sections: Engineering, Foundry, Construction, and Technical, Administrative and Supervisory (TASS). This approach was not a success, as the various sections fell into dispute with each other. In 1984, the Engineering, Foundry and Construction Sections were merged and in 1986 adopted the name Amalgamated Engineering Union once more, while the TASS remained separate and, in 1988, it became entirely independent of the union once more.
Despite this series of amalgamations, declines in the number of workers in heavy industry saw membership drop from a peak of 1,483,400 in 1979, to 858,000 in 1986. The AEU became a mainstay of the moderate right in the trade union movement through the 1980s and 1990s, leading the manufacturing unions in 1989–1991 in a successful push for a shorter working week, but failing to merge with a number of unions, notally the building workers union UCATT.
In 1992 the AEU finally achieved a merger with the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union, EETPU, after a hundred years of off and on discussions.  The new union took the name Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union.
Like the ASE before it, the AEU affiliated to the Labour Party, sponsoring candidates at each election, many of whom won seats in Parliament.
- 1921: Albert Smethurst
- 1933: Fred A. Smith
- 1943: Benjamin Gardner
- 1956: Cecil Hallett
- 1965: Jim Conway
|1968||Created 1971||Jim Conway||William Simpson||Created 1971|
|1971||Eddie Marsden||George Doughty|
|1974||Bob Garland||Ken Gill|
- 1988: Gavin Laird
- 1920: James Thomas Brownlie
- 1931: William Harold Hutchinson
- 1933: John C. Little
- 1939: Jack Tanner
- 1953: Robert Openshaw
- 1956: William Carron
- 1968: Hugh Scanlon
- 1978: Terry Duffy
- 1986: Bill Jordan
- James C. Docherty and Sjaak van der Velden, Historical Dictionary of Organized Labor, pp.24-25
- Arthur Marsh and Victoria Ryan, Historical Directory of British Trade Unions, vol.3, pp.12-16
- Haydu, Jeffrey (1988). Between Craft and Class: Skilled Workers and Factory Politics in the United States and Britain, 1890-1922. University of California Press. p. 168. ISBN 9780520060609.
- Jefferys, James B. (1970). The Story of the Engineers. Edinburgh: Reprints in Social and Economic History. p. 171–191.
- Chris Cook, The Routledge Guide to British Political Archives: Sources since 1945, pp.223-224
- Lloyd, John (1990). Light and Liberty: A History of EEPTU. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 9780297796626.
- Smethurst, John B.; Carter, Peter (2009). Historical Directory of Trade Unions: Including unions in building and construction, agriculture, fishing, chemicals, wood and woodworking, transport, engineering and metalworking, government, civil and public service, shipbuilding, energy and extraction in the United Kingdom and Ireland. 6. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7546-6683-7. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- "Appendix III: List of sanctioned candidates, June, 1922". Report of the Twenty-second Annual Conference of the Labour Party: 116–126. 1922.. Note that this list is of the sanctioned candidates as of June 1922, and there were some changes between this date and the general election.
- Candidate was listed as sponsored but not attached to any specific constituency in: "By-elections". Candidates and Constituencies: 62–63. 1922.
- Jefferys, James B. (1970). The Story of the Engineers. Edinburgh: Reprints in Social and Economic History. p. 230.
- Labour Party, Annual Report of the Labour Party Conference (1928), pp.275–281. Note that this is a list of affiliations of Labour MPs as of September 1928, and it is possible that some MPs held different sponsorship as of the 1924 election.
- "List of Labour Candidates and Election Results, May 30th, 1929". Report of the Annual Conference of the Labour Party: 24–44. 1929.
- "Parliamentary by-elections". Report of the Annual Labour Party Conference: 16–28. 1931.
- "List of Endorsed Labour candidates and election results, October 27, 1931". Report of the Annual Labour Party Conference: 11–27. 1931.
- "List of Endorsed Labour Candidates and Election Results, November 14, 1935". Report of the Annual Conference of the Labour Party: 8–23. 1935.
- "List of Endorsed Labour Candidates and Election Results, July 26th, 1945". Report of the Annual Conference of the Labour Party: 232–248. 1945.
- Sponsor assumed to be the same as at the 1950 UK general election
- "List of Parliamentary Labour candidates and election results, February 23rd, 1950". Report of the Forty-Ninth Annual Conference of the Labour Party: 179–198. 1950.
- "List of Parliamentary Labour candidates and election results, 25th October, 1951". Report of the Fiftieth Annual Conference of the Labour Party: 184–203. 1951.
- Labour Party, Report of the Fifty-Fourth Annual Conference of the Labour Party, pp.255-275
- Labour Party, Report of the Fifty-Eighth Annual Conference of the Labour Party, pp.179-201
- Labour Party, Report of the Sixty-Third Annual Conference of the Labour Party, pp.158-180
- Labour Party, Report of the Sixty-Fifth Annual Conference of the Labour Party, pp.308-330
- Labour Party, Report of the Sixty-Ninth Annual Conference of the Labour Party, pp.289-312
- Labour Party, Report of the Seventy-Third Annual Conference of the Labour Party, pp.391-411
- Labour Party, Report of the Seventy-Third Annual Conference of the Labour Party, pp.371-390
- Labour Party, Report of the Seventy-Eighth Annual Conference of the Labour Party, pp.406-431
- General Election Guide. BBC Data Publications. 1983. ISBN 094635815X.
- "AEU sponsored MPs show the way in the general election". AEU. 1987.
- Catalogue of the AEU, AEF, and AUEW archives, held at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick
- Catalogue of further AUEW archives, held at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick
- Catalogue of the AUEW Construction Section archives, held at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick
- Catalogue of the AEF/AUEW Foundry Section archives, held at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick