David Clive Jenkins (2 May 1926 – 22 September 1999) was a British trade union leader. "Organising the middle classes", his stated recreation in Who's Who, sums up both his sense of humour and his achievements in the British trade union movement.
He was born in Port Talbot, Glamorgan, Wales. His father was a railway worker, and his brother, Tom, became leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association. On leaving Port Talbot County Boys' School in 1940 at the age of 14, when his father died, he started work in the laboratory at a metalworks and continued his education by taking evening classes at Swansea Technical College. Three years later, he was in charge of the lab. Two years after that, he was a night shift foreman.
Jenkins had early involvement in his trade union the Association of Scientific Workers (AScW) and become a lay official in 1944, when he was elected as secretary of his branch. In 1946, at the age of 20, he left Port Talbot to become a full-time official at the Birmingham office of the Association of Supervisory Staff, Executives and Technicians (ASSET), where he was appointed assistant divisional secretary. He was at that time a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain.
Moving almost immediately to the head office, he received rapid promotion, as national officer in 1954, deputy general secretary in 1957 and general secretary in 1961.
Then, ASSET had 23,000 members, which later increased to 50,000 by 1969, when ASSET merged with AScW, to form ASTMS (the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs). ASSET and Jenkins were the senior partner. In the new union, he was joint general secretary with John Dutton of AScW, but by 1970, he was sole general secretary with a vision of what "his" union could become.
By the use of advertising (billboard posters were previously unheard of in the movement), he brought trades unionism to the middle classes. Within 15 years, ASTMS grew from an initial membership of 65,000 to a figure approaching 500,000.
Jenkins kept himself (and ASTMS) in the public eye, with frequent appearances on television chat shows and his own regular newspaper columns. His wit and turn of phrase ensured that even his opponents would certainly remember him.
Involvement in politics
A Labour government, under Harold Wilson, was elected in 1974. Jenkins was then appointed to the National Research and Development Council (NRDC), from 1974 to 1980. He sat on the committee that produced the Bullock Report (Industrial democracy) (1975–1977) as well as on the board of the British National Oil Corporation (1979–1982).
Following the Labour Party's heavy defeat in the 1983 election, Jenkins was instrumental in getting Neil Kinnock nominated to the leadership of the party. In 1988, shortly after ASTMS merged with TASS (the Technical, Administrative and Supervisory Section) to form MSF (Manufacturing, Science and Finance), Jenkins unexpectedly announced his retirement. He wrote an autobiography, All Against The Collar (1990).
- British Airlines: a study of nationalised civil aviation (1953). Fabian Research Series, no 158. London: Victor Gollancz.
- Power at the Top: a critical survey of the nationalised industries (1959). London: MacGibbon & Kee.
- Germany’s Balance of Influence: the changing situation in NATO (1960). London: Union of Democratic Control.
- Power behind the Screen: ownership control and motivation in British commercial television (1961). London: MacGibbon & Kee.
- British Trade Unions today (1965). Oxford: Pergamon Press (with James Edward Mortimer)
- Collective bargaining: what you always wanted to know about trade unions and never dared to ask (1977). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. ISBN 0-7100-8691-1. (with Barrie Sherman).
- Computers and the unions (1977). London: Longman. ISBN 0-582-45017-9 (with Barrie Sherman).
- White-collar unionism: the rebellious salariat (1979). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. ISBN 0-7100-0237-8 (with Barrie Sherman).
- The collapse of work (1979). London : Eyre Methuen. ISBN 0-413-45760-5 (with Barrie Sherman).
- The leisure shock (1981). London : Eyre Methuen. ISBN 0-413-48210-3 (with Barrie Sherman).
- All against the collar: struggles of a white collar union leader (1990). London: Methuen. ISBN 0-413-39930-3
- Taylor, Robert (2004). "Jenkins, (David) Clive". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/72859. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- "Tributes paid to Clive Jenkins". BBC News. 22 September 1999.
- Milne, Seumas (23 September 1999). "Clive Jenkins, 1970s union power broker, dies at 73". The Guardian.