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From The Socialist newspaper, 11 March 2020

Book: Why you should be a trade unionist by Unite general secretary Len McCluskey

Len McCluskey at a demo to save Glenfield heart unit in Leicester

Len McCluskey at a demo to save Glenfield heart unit in Leicester   (Click to enlarge)

Derek McMillan, East Grinstead

Len McCluskey's book 'Why you should be a trade unionist' is a lively and accessible account of the role trade unionism has played in the past, and the hope which workers' organisations provide for the future.

It answers in detail the question: "What have the unions done for us?" In particular, he praises those in the so-called gig economy who have organised and fought against some of the most vicious employers in the country, and won significant victories.

It deals with some issues which are not usually thought of as trade union concerns. For example, the Grenfell Tower fire, which he squarely blames on austerity cuts: "Union members were involved from the outset, supporting residents in the immediate humanitarian response. In those painful days after the tragedy we provided a vital link to the wider community, offering legal advice and representation to many residents, in what will be a long road to justice. Grenfell members have also received legal support from their unions in relation to housing, welfare and employment issues arising as a direct result of the fire - injustices that the mainstream media rarely notice."

On 'Unite Community' (of which I am a member) he writes: "This has become a fundamental part of our union's political response to the Tories' aggressive agenda of cuts. It has helped to ensure that we are at the forefront of political, industrial and community opposition to austerity. We invited not only the unemployed through our doors, but all those not in paid work, including students, pensioners, disabled people, volunteers and carers. This is undoubtedly without precedent in British trade unionism, and it adds another dimension to the union's strength, because giving people not in work the opportunity to find their own voice assists us industrially."

Whether it is dealing with anti-union bosses like Ryanair's Michael O'Leary or the climate emergency, this is a text book for anyone interested in the future of society. I enjoyed reading it. It educated an old leftie like me and it can do the same for you.

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In The Socialist 11 March 2020:


Coronavirus

Coronavirus: Full NHS funding now

Coronavirus infects the world economy

Flybe collapse: nationalise to save jobs threatened by Covid-19 and downturn

Coronavirus: international cooperation needed, not capitalist competition

Supermarkets are ruled by profit - unions should control supply limits

For full pay during isolation: for public health as well as workers' wallets

Self-isolation patients speak: NHS facilities and advice not up to it

Italy on lockdown: lack of resources and democracy causes panic

South Korea shows capitalism has money to respond to coronavirus

Coronavirus news in brief


News

Domestic Violence bill: We still need to fight to save our services

News in brief


Workplace news

Postal workers mobilise to win strike reballot

Homerton Hospital workers fight for sick pay

Fighting to transform the union in my warehouse

Argos workers in Sainsbury's stores threatened with losing collective bargaining

Homeless charity workers to strike against intransigent management

Southampton trade unionists say "defend the right to strike!"

Strong support for PCS Broad Left Network

East London uni and bin worker strikes


US election

How can Trump be ousted from the White House?


Campaigns and party news

Salford 'no-cuts' budget includes cuts and tax rises

Stoke council unions beat pay cuts - now let's stop all cuts

Is there an anti-cuts rebellion in Scotland?

Socialist Party joins International Women's Day protests

Housing workers explain reality to idiot Boris Johnson

Swansea: Ask anyone about state of services, you will hear the real story

Camarthenshire: Councillors' 'walk of shame'

Student occupation in support of striking workers

Selling the Socialist

Socialist Party executive committee positions


International news

Greece-Turkey border refugee crisis


Women's and trans rights

Women's rights, trans rights and the labour movement


Readers' opinion

Film: Greed directed by Michael Winterbottom

Childcare - costly, inadequate and hard work

Book: Why you should be a trade unionist by Unite general secretary Len McCluskey

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Related links:

Len McCluskey:

triangleCorbyn suspended - Time to fight for a new mass workers' party

triangleUnite votes to cut affiliation fee to Labour

triangleLabour payouts: unions must discuss political representation

triangleA fighting programme for Unite

triangleTories put profit before lives - unions must stand firm on workplace safety

Unite:

triangle

Heathrow workers strike against 'fire and rehire' plans

triangleHackney council parking services brought in-house

triangleOptare: Right to strike defended

triangleLancashire workers' strike shows the way to fight aerospace cuts and job losses

Union:

triangleDon't let the festive season be one of misery for retail workers

triangleEast London teachers strike in support of victimised union rep

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Equity union conference calls for radical change - now lead a fight!

Cuts:

triangleScotland: Campaign wins end to period poverty

triangleUnions must resist return to austerity

Austerity:

triangleWhere is devolution heading?

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