Background to the Foundation

Transfer of funds from the CSEU 35-Hour Week Fund to the Alex Ferry Foundation 

It is thought that approximately 200,000 trade union members contributed to the CSEU’s 35-Hour Week Fund, with their contributions constituting the vast majority of the assets donated. Following conclusion of the initial campaign and industrial action, a surplus was left in the fund. Over time, that surplus increased very considerably with investment return. There was a growing concern that this fund would be designated an ‘orphan fund’. That is, an asset that a cannot be reunited with its beneficial, or rightful, owner and open to be taken over by the UK TreasuryThe legal reasons were complex but boiled down to the fact the 35 Hour Week Fund could neither be returned to the donors nor spent on the original purpose of a campaign for a 35-hour week. 

A critical High Court of Justice case in 2018 

A High Court case was decided where all the parties were legally represented. In order to preserve the fund for the general benefit  of the original donors all the parties agreed to transfer the whole of 35-Hour Week Fund to be “held absolutely and beneficially”  for the charitable Alex Ferry Foundation “freed and discharged from the terms of the rules” of the 35-Hour Week Fund. However, the Foundation has clear and legal restrictions on what it is able to fund under charity law and all parties agreed this transfer was the best outcome. 

Our Articles of Association 

The Articles of Association of the Alex Ferry Foundation were agreed by the parties to the June 2018 High Court case. That sum of many £millions from the 35-Hour Week Fund now provides the charitable endowment of the Alex Ferry Foundation. 

A unique Foundation in the UK 

The history of the Foundation is critical to us. It defines who we are and what we will focus on. We are a registered charity and regulated by the Charity Commission. 

The Foundation was created with the assets of a trust fund established in 1989 by the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions (CSEU) to provide financial support to workers in the UK shipbuilding and engineering industries and in related manufacturing industries who were then engaged in a campaign for a 35-hour working week. It is a unique charity. Never before has such a significant sum been collected by lay members of trade unions for the benefit of their communities. 

The Board of Trustees 

The  make-up of the Board was approved at a 2018 High Court of Justice case. It has a very unusual composition for a grant making Foundation.  All the Trustees (except the Chair of the Board) are trade union officers, either full-time or lay shop stewards. 

  • Three CSEU representatives elected at the Executive Council of the CSEU 
  • Five Lay representatives elected at a Lay Representatives meeting 
  • A Chair of the Board who is independent of the CSEU or any Unions affiliated to the CSEU 

All the Trustees serve a four year term which ends at the end of this Strategic Plan in December 2022. All Trustees are entitled to stand for re-appointment. 

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