Ian Waddell is the General Secretary of the Confederation of Shipbuilding & Engineering Unions (CSEU).  The CSEU represents union members working in aerospace, defence, engineering, rail, steel-making, shipbuilding and ship repair and has four major affiliates – Unite, GMB, Community and Prospect.  Ian was elected as General Secretary in October 2017 after a 20 year career as a full-time officer with Unite and its predecessor unions.  He sits on the Aerospace Growth Partnership (AGP) Board and is active in skills, also sitting on the Board of Semta, the former Sector Skills Council.

Ian is Chair of the IndustriAll Europe trade union federation’s Aerospace Committee and has been working hard to raise awareness of the potential impact of Brexit on the aerospace industry.


The confederation was founded in December 1890 as the Federation of Engineering and Shipbuilding Trades by small craft unions, on the initiative of Robert Knight of the United Society of Boilermakers and Iron and Steel Shipbuilders, primarily in response to the formation of a National Federation of Shipbuilders and Engineers by employers.

By 1895, sixteen unions were affiliated, with a total membership of 150,000. However, the prominent Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE) refused to join. The ASE finally joined in 1905 but, failing to persuade the other members to unite with it in a single industrial union, withdrew again in 1914. Meanwhile, unions representing unskilled workers were initially excluded; the National Amalgamated Union of Labour was finally admitted in 1908, and the National Union of Gasworkers and General Labourers in 1910, and only after they had given assurances that they would permit the craft unions to retain a leading role in the organisation. Because it would not sign a similar agreement, the Workers’ Union was never admitted.

In its early years, the Federation focussed on resolving demarcation disputes, but it soon concentrated on making national agreements for the engineering and shipbuilding industries, allowing the largest union in each trade to take the lead in negotiations.

The confederation adopted its current form and name in 1936. From 1941, the CSEU co-operated with the National Union of Foundry Workers and the Amalgamated Engineering Union in the National Engineering Joint Trades Movement, convincing these two unions to affiliate in 1944 and 1946 respectively. The confederation then represented the vast majority of unionised workers in the relevant industries.

By 1977, the CSEU had 23 affiliates and 2.4 million members, with most workers organised in the relevant sections of the Transport and General Workers Union, General and Municipal Workers Union and Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union. Members in 1979 were:

• Amalgamated Society of Boilermakers, Shipwrights, Blacksmiths and Structural Workers
• Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers (all four sections held separate memberships)
• Associated Metalworkers’ Union
• Association of Patternmakers and Allied Craftsmen
• Association of Professional, Executive, Clerical and Computer Staff
• Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs
• Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union
• Furniture, Timber and Allied Trades Union
• General and Municipal Workers’ Union
• National Society of Metal Mechanics
• National Union of Domestic Appliance and General Metal Workers
• National Union of Scalemakers
• National Union of Sheet Metal Workers, Coppersmiths, Heating and Domestic Engineers
• Screw, Nut, Bolt and Rivet Trade Union
• Transport and General Workers’ Union (Power & Engineering and Automotive Trade Groups)
• Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians

In 1989, membership was still 22 affiliates and 2 million members but, by 2001, this had fallen to 1.2 million members, and a process of union mergers has greatly reduced the number of affiliated unions and the prominence of the organisation. All current affiliates are also members of the Trades Union Congress.

Current affiliates of the CSEU are Unite the Union; the GMB; Community and Prospect.


The day to day work of the CSEU is handled by the General Secretary, Ian Waddell, and an assistant who manages all of the administration and support functions.

The four affiliated unions nominate officers to sit on the CSEU Executive Committee, which meets four times a year to oversee the work of the Confed.

Current officers of the Executive Committee are:

Tony Burke – Chair of the Engineering Committee
Steve Turner – Chair of the Aerospace Committee
Hugh Roberts – Chair of the Rail Committee
Diana Holland

Ross Murdoch – Chair of the Shipbuilding Committee
Billy Coates
Albie McGuigan

Alasdair McDiarmid

Garry Graham – Chair of the Defence Committee


At local level, the CSEU is organised into District Committees.

The District Committees are:

DC1/2 – Falmouth & Devonport
DC 4 – Yeovil
DC 5 – South Coast
DC 9 – Reading
DC 9a – Swindon
DC 10 – Bristol
DC 13 – Gloucester
DC 14 – Coventry
DC 15 – Bedford
DC 16 – East Anglia
DC 18 – Cambridge
DC 20 – Birmingham
DC 22 – Mersey
DC 23 – Crewe
DC 24 – Derby
DC 25 – Nottingham
DC 26 – Lincoln
DC 27 – Hull
DC 28 – Sheffield
DC 29 – Blackburn/Manchester/Merseyside/North West
DC 31 – Barrow
DC 32 – Leeds and Bradford
DC 35 – Carlisle
DC 36 – North East
DC 43 – Belfast
Scottish Region
Wales Region

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