Twenty years ago the Union of Communication Workers and the National Communications Union officially created the Communication Workers Union (CWU).
On 26th January 1995, former general secretaries Alan Johnson of UCW and Tony Young from NCU became joint leaders of the union, running the CWU from Clapham and Ealing respectively.
It wasn’t until 1997 the union came together under one roof and set up its headquarters in Wimbledon, where it still stands today.
CWU general secretary Billy Hayes was there from the beginning, but an assistant secretary then, and has experienced first-hand the exciting challenges faced by the union over the past two decades:
“In twenty years we’ve seen a technological revolution which has completely changed the working environment for our members,” he said.
“Postmen and women have seen massive changes to their industry because of the increase in online shopping, privatisation and liberalisation of the market.
“Email, the internet and mobile phones were only used by a small number of people in 1995 but today most of us are reliant on all three.
“They’ve all had a massive impact on the work CWU members do.
“Our members in the finance sector have seen online and mobile banking services increase dramatically over the last few years.
“And our telecoms members have seen a transformation of the industry they work in. The internet and mobile markets have grown exponentially and are continuing to evolve.”
In 1995, the CWU was a great advocate of ensuring communities had access to the Information Superhighway.
Today, the union continues to campaign on this issue calling for a ‘commitment’ from the government to universal broadband for all households and businesses.
“We’ve celebrated great achievements that we are very proud of,” added Billy.
“We championed a national minimum wage and are now fighting for a living wage, fought for equal rights for agency workers, held off the privatisation of Royal Mail for two decades and got the law tightened up over dangerous dogs and reckless owners.
“Thanks to everybody who has helped to make this union the success it is today.”
The union is planning events to mark its 20th anniversary that will take place throughout the year.
Keep an eye on the CWU website for when these are taking place and share your memories on social media using #CWUat20.