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Printers and Unions
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Sogat

SOGAT came into being on 1 February 1966 with the amalgamation of the NUPB&PW and NATSOPA. The merger was based on a two-pillar structure holding up the “umbrella” organisation. SOGAT was divided into two highly autonomous divisions upon which the parent society, SOGAT, nested. Every member of SOGAT belonged to one of two divisions known as Division A and Division 1. The former comprised the members of NUPB&PW and the latter the members of NATSOPA. The integration of the divisions into SOGAT was to be decided at a National Conference to be held no later than 1969.

The important factor in the creation of SOGAT was the formation of the NGA in 1964, which was seen as the forerunner to the emergence of one craft union for the industry. NUPB&PW and NATSOPA feared a single craft union would isolate them, resulting in the undermining of craft/non craft differentials, in the continued prevention of access to non-skilled employees to skilled jobs, in the poaching of their members, in a continuation of the apprenticeship system in opposition to adult promotion to craft jobs and in the continued segregation of workers in the industry. In the early 1960s, the lithographic printing process advanced at the expense of the letterpress process and NUPB&PW and NATSOPA feared a single craft union would deny their members’ a stake in this “litho revolution”. They recognised that in these circumstances to remain separate would result in the craft unions and the employers colluding against them and/or in playing them off against each other.

The problems of devising a constitution for SOGAT proved insurmountable and in 1972 the amalgamation was dissolved. The NUPB&PW retained the title SOGAT but NATSOPA adopted the title the National Society of Operative Printers, Graphical and Media Personnel but retained the acronym of NATSOPA. The divorce happened because it proved impossible to accommodate the fundamental constitutional principles of NUPB&PW and NATSOPA. The former was a de-centralised union with a high degree of branch autonomy. The latter was a highly centralised union with a strong autocratic general secretary. Despite the divorce, both unions continued to be pro-merger. In 1975, SOGAT and the Scottish Graphical Association amalgamated to form the Society of Graphical and Allied Trades (75).

Two years earlier, the Sign and Display Union, which organised screen printers who produced posters, point of sale, exhibitions and illuminated vehicle signs merged into NATSOPA.

In 1982, NATSOPA and the SOGAT (75) merged to create the Society of Graphical and Allied Trades (82). The pressures leading to this merger included continuing technological developments, most notably the rise of lithography, the growth of multi-national companies, the continued growth of an alternative printing industry such as the expansion of in-plant printing in banks, insurance companies and local and national government and the growth of information systems based on electronic devices



Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 10:32