The original rules of the FDA state that its purpose was to "promote the efficiency of the public service and to consider and deal with all matters affecting the classes of the civil service included in the Association".


FDA History

When rumours first reached the Treasury in July 1918 that "a certain number of Higher Division Men" were planning to form an association, it was met with cynicism and a degree of hostility. 

Until the First World War, the Treasury persistently refused to discuss terms and conditions of staff with service-wide or departmental associations and constantly referred them back to the Heads of Departments. This is despite the fact that the Treasury controlled the purse strings and had, since the 1860s, tried to assert its authority over departments in establishment matters.

The FDA formally came into being in January 1919. The original rules of the FDA state that its purpose was to "promote the efficiency of the public service and to consider and deal with all matters affecting the classes of the civil service included in the Association".

Whilst the classes have long since been swept away, the commitment to public service efficiency has remained enshrined in Rule 3 of the FDA to this day.

In 1929 the FDA formed part of a joint body representing higher grade associations - the Higher Grades Conference.

During the Second World War the FDA operated on a 'care and maintenance' basis. There were no committee elections until 1944, but the Executive Committee (EC) met frequently.

The trend towards unionisation continued with the setting up of a pay and conditions sub-committee in 1946 and an advisory sub-committee on assistant principals' pay in 1951.

The EC actually considered winding up the FDA in 1968, following the Fulton Report's recommendation that the administrative and executive classes be merged into one structure.

The FDA's first full-time General Secretary Norman Ellis was appointed in 1974 and in 1977 the union voted to join the TUC.

FDA members took industrial action in 1979 and 1981, and the banning of trade unions at GCHQ in 1984 gave rise to the FDA's 13-year-long campaign to restore union rights there.

During the 1980s membership continued to grow steadily and in 1988 the Association of Inspectors of Tax (AIT) - now ARC - and the FDA merged, although the AIT retained its separate identity. Elizabeth Symons became the FDA's third general secretary in 1989, taking over from John Ward.

At times over the years, the FDA has been at the centre of high profile events, including the Scott Inquiry in 1993 and the terminations of employments of Prison Service director general Derek Lewis and DTLR communications director Martin Sixsmith.

Jonathan Baume was elected General Secretary in 1997 and was elected to the TUC General Council. In 2000 the union agreed the goal of becoming 'the union of choice for senior managers and professionals in public service'. In the following year the union agreed to replace its Association of First Division Civil Servants' title with simply 'the FDA'. All references in in the FDA's rules were changed from 'association' to 'union'.

Managers in Partnership (MiP), an FDA-Unison joint venture representing senior NHS managers, was launched in June 2005. The FDA was at the forefront of the 2005 campaign to protect public sector pensions, which led to a government-union agreement in January 2007 on a joint approach to modernising pensions in the civil service.

Jonathan Baume was re-elected FDA General Secretary in 2006 for a further five-year term.

In February 2007 the FDA moved from the St James's Park area to offices near Waterloo Station in central London.

In spring 2008 the union finalised negotiations with the Association of Heads of University Administration (AHUA) to offer FDA membership to its members. The AHUA is the professional body for 'chief executives' and very senior university administrators. During 2007-08 FDA membership passed the 18,000 mark.

In September 2008 agreement was reached with the Security Service (MI5) for the FDA to provide professional industrial relations support to staff.

The FDA invited the TUC to carry out a review of its race and equality procedures, policies and practices in 2008. One of the TUC's recommendations was to appoint an Executive Committee member as the union's equalities champion.

A new website and membership database for the union, partly funded by the Union Modernisation Fund, was launched in November 2008.

In January 2010 the FDA secured funding from the Union Learning Fund for a second phase of its skills project, which started in April 2010. The two strands of this work are responding to the recession and issues around diversity.

After a long campaign by the FDA - together with the Civil Service Commission and the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee - the civil service was put onto a statutory footing in April 2010 when the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act received Royal Assent.

Following nearly two years of difficult negotiations, members voted to accept the changes to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme, which were introduced in December 2010.

On 30 November 2011, FDA members took part in the first national strike action in the union's history over public sector pensions. 

In May 2012, FDA members voted to accept the Government's proposals for a new pension scheme from 2015, following a long period of complex and difficult negotiations.

Also in May 2012, following Baume's retirement from the union, former Deputy General Secretary Dave Penman was elected unopposed as his successor. Penman took up office as FDA General Secretary in July 2012 and was also elected to the TUC General Council.

During 2013, the senior management structure of the FDA was altered to comprise of the General Secretary and two Assistant General Secretaries.

In spring 2013, the FDA launched its alternative White Paper 'Delivering for the Nation: Securing a World-Class Civil Service' - alongside the campaign of the same name - in Parliament. The White Paper included the union's analysis of the civil service challenges and recommendations for change.

Mid-2013 saw the FDA signed a new membership agreement with the Northern Ireland Public Services Alliance (NIPSA), replacing that which has existed since the mid-1980s.

The agreement sets out arrangements between the two unions for increasing trade union membership within the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) and outlines grades which each of the unions will be responsible for recruiting within. The FDA now has sole recognition for the SCS, Fast Stream and legal grades within the Northern Ireland Public Prosecution Service (NIPPS), and continues to recruit members from grades 6 and 7.

On 14 February 2014, members of the Association of Revenue and Customs (ARC) - the FDA section representing members in HM Revenue and Customs - took strike action over performance management and detrimental changes to their terms and conditions of employment.