Clive Jenkins

Clive Jenkins

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.


Early life

He was born in Port Talbot, Wales. On leaving Port Talbot County Boys' School in 1940 at the age of 14 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 and after another two he was a night shift foreman.

Union career

Jenkins had early involvement in his trade union the AScW (Association of Scientific Workers), 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 ASSET's (the Association of Supervisory Staff, Executives and Technicians) Birmingham office, where he was appointed assistant divisional secretary. Moving almost immediately to the head office he received rapid promotion as national officer in 1954, deputy general secretary in 1957 and was appointed general secretary in 1961.

At that time ASSET had 23,000 members, a number which had increased to 50,000 by 1969 when ASSET merged with AScW (the Association of Scientific Workers) 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.

Clive 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 those who might not like him would certainly remember him. His brash character ensured that more staid trade union leaders kept him off the general council of the TUC.[citation needed] However he eventually achieved this in 1974 and was chairman of the general council in 1987–88.

Involvement in politics

A Labour government under Harold Wilson was elected in 1974. Jenkins was appointed to the National Research and Development Council (NRDC) from 1974 to 1980. He sat on the committee which produced the Bullock Report (Industrial democracy) (1975-7) and the board of the British National Oil Corporation (1979 to 1982). During the 1975 referendum on Britain's membership of the EEC, Jenkins campaigned for Britain to leave.[1]

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).


Upon retiring, for a time Clive Jenkins ran a B&B in St Helens, Tasmania, before returning to Britain.

Books by Clive Jenkins

  • 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


  1. ^ David Butler and Uwe Kitzinger, The 1975 Referendum (London: Macmillan, 1976), p. 107, p. 256, p. 274.


Political offices
Preceded by
Harry Knight?
General Secretary of the Association of Supervisory Staff, Executives and Technicians
Succeeded by
Position abolished
Preceded by
New position
General Secretary of the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs
with John Dutton 1969-70
Succeeded by
Position abolished
Preceded by
New position
General Secretary of the Manufacturing, Science and Finance Union
with Ken Gill
Succeeded by
Ken Gill
Preceded by
Fred Jarvis
President of the Trades Union Congress
Succeeded by
Tony Christopher

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