Whittaker worked in the shoe factory of Lambert Howarth and Sons. In 1935, he joined the Rossendale Union of Boot, Shoe and Slipper Operatives (RUBSSO), and in 1947 he was elected as the union's assistant general secretary. In 1969, Whittaker succeeded as general secretary of the union, in which post he was known for his unemotional approach to negotiations.
On being elected as leader of the Rossendale Union, Whittaker also won election to the Management Committee of the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU). He served as chair of the federation in 1975, and championed the creation of a GFTU Research Service.
Whittaker retired in 1993, but remained active in trade unionism in a voluntary role. He died in 1995, on return home from the GFTU conference.
- "Mr Thomas Whittaker". GFTU Report: A34. 1997.
|Trade union offices|
| General Secretary of the Rossendale Union of Boot, Shoe and Slipper Operatives
| Chair of the General Federation of Trade Unions