A formal application is being made by the Royal College of Midwives to affiliate to the Trades Union Congress.
The announcement follows a decision by the RCM’s governing board to apply for membership.
If successful, the RCM would become the first royal college to be a member of the TUC.
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM, said: “This is a significant, historical and positive decision by the RCM.
“We already have a range of affiliations and collaborations such as that with the International Confederation of Midwives,” she said. “Membership of the TUC will bring substantial benefits to our members from both an employment relations and professional perspective.
“Our fundamental purpose is to work for our members to ensure they can provide the highest quality of care for women. The TUC’s campaigning on issues such as women’s rights, employment rights, equality, wellbeing at work and in many other areas is fully compatible with this,” she said.
Professor Warwick described the move as a “natural progression” for the college that would make the RCM a “stronger and a more effective organisation”.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We are delighted that the Royal College of Midwives is to take the historic step of seeking to become the newest member of the TUC.
“Our movement derives its strength from its members, and we look forward to working more closely with such a strong and professional body as the RCM,” she said.