Sunday, 30 November 2008

Developing Trade Union Leaders


I spent this weekend with a great group of trade union activists and officers (pictured) who were piloting a course developed by colleagues at Ruskin College which aimed to take a new approach to developing leadership skills and structures within the trade union movement.

The driving force behind this new initiative is Roger McKenzie who is the Midland TUC's Regional Secretary. Please have a look at Roger's blog and feed into the areas of debate he is interested in (

The issue I'd like your feedback on is what forms of leadership best describe your own unions. If you need to some background reading around leadership types please have a look at this useful outline:

Please consider leadership in all contexts and not just the role of a GS or NEC. Think also of your own views of what type of union leader you are.




Wolf said...

You could have been kind to us and used photoshop to reassure us that we are a great set of people. The photo representation might lead some of us to think that you are our mortal enemy

Sunny said...


Whats photoshop?

You look like a great bunch of people.

In terms of Ian's question I would say yes, there is an issue of leadership and quite critically this is around demonstrating to younger workers that TUs have value.

Whilst the bald old men of the movement fight over the comb the movement dwindles this is is they should be thrown out.

They care not about the movement only their own political position.


Del Ansar said...


You are absolutely right.

Woodley/Simpson do not give a f-k about the movement. As you say they are old men fighting over a comb.

I was at Esher a few weeks ago when Simpson turned up - I had never seen him in all of my time as a member of the union.

So, the only time the old twat turns up is when he wants our votes!

And yet, as you say, the movement crumbles, and these old gits are supposed to represent the future - I think not!


Ian Manborde said...


Whilst I share some of your sentiment here, do please moderate your language.

We can have strong, defined opinion on the blog, but not mere abuse.



ShopSteward85 said...


Absolutely right - chucking fowl language about under the cover of anonymity is what I'd expect of managers at my workplace, not seasoned trade union activists - or at least not in a forum designed to raise the level of debate and understanding.

I am not as pessmistic as the two people who posted the barbed comments.

I suppose you look at the leadership of UNITE as it's the biggest union and it exemplifies currently warning signs in a failure of leadership.

I would suggest however, that we look more broadly across the movement and at leaders that show a greater degree of principle.

I like you Ian have often felt that the smaller unions with their decreased capacity and overall strength have shown great determination in the face of conflict.

Although she has retired now Judy McKnight at Napo took the fight of that union directly to the door of the government and never shied from telling it like it was/is.

Similarly Joe Marino at the BFAWU has always, at leat from perspective, a great willingness to be close to members and activists as is shown by his willingness to attend activist course (is Willie Colquhoun still doing those?).

As the material you provided a link to demonstrates, there are many models of leadership and a great capacity on the part of many in the movement to change and adapt.

Never lose hope.


Jenny Harvey said...

I'd like to thank ian for the strategically place full time officer hiding my tummy in the pic.
By the way it was a fascinating weekend