Sad news today – the Sheffield Wool Shear Workers’ Union has folded after 117 years representing people working in the manufacture of sheep shears in Sheffield.
I never met any of them, but like a lot of unionists had a bit of a soft spot for SWSWU, as they gave the UK union movement a Guiness record for being the smallest union in the world, with just 9 members.
All their members were employed by steel firm Burgon & Ball, whose shear department boasts of making the finest and most popular shears in the world, with craftsman hand-set blades and four different configurations of hot-rolled bow. They also supply Sheffield-steel sheep shear sharpening steels, which are probably easier to use than to say.
SWSWU put out a statement after the 1997 election that 100% of their membership had voted Labour. Would that a few other unions could say that! 😉
The baton of smallest union in the TUC now passes to the Card Setting Machine Tenters Society, who have a whopping 88 members – though don’t ask me what they do.