Saturday, 23 January 2010

Working Stiffs, Union Maids, Reds, and Riffraff


Working Stiffs, Union Maids, Reds, and Riffraff is the excellent title of a newly published volume on the history of films about the labour movement. There is some useful online material around this subject, but this is probably, currently the best book on the subject.

From Salt of the Earth to Roger and Me the book explores the fundamentally important role that film has played in exploring the challenges of organised labour and promoting its importance.

Although referred to all too briefly the book naturally includes one of my all time favourite trade union films, Matewan, which dramatises beautifully the plight of striking miners in the 1920's West Virginia Coalfields. Although brutal at times in its depiction of the savagery of anti-trade union tactics, the film is ultimately an inspirational testament to the need to collectively organise. There is a great write up of the background of the actual dispute and of the film itself at:

The book is available for purchase via the LaborStart online bookstore:

I'd really welcome feedback on the film that helped inspire your trade union activity and/or epitomises the best (or even worst)of the trade union movement.



Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Haiti:The Trade Union Response


The earthquake in Haiti demands an unequivocal global, humanitarian response - and as ever the trade union movement is at the forefront.

The ITUC has mobilised an international effort to respond to the disaster and is working closely with trade unionists in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. See here for more information:

As with other media organisations The Guardian is provising first class, first hand accounts of the aid response in Haiti and is providing details of how to provide financial and other assistance.

The Guardian live blog is at:

Please continue to follow developments, particularly on the trade union front via the ITUC, and do all that you can to provide assistance.



Monday, 4 January 2010

Happy New Year?


I hope you all had a good rest over the festive period and I wish you all the very best for 2010.

And what a year it looks set to be. The Guardian helped set the forecast on the industrial front with a useful background peice from the industrial action front based largely on planned action across the public sector, not least arising from the restarting of suspended action by the CWU.

Go to this link for full details:

As you'll see/hear/read from the media we are now in the midst of the unofficial start of the election campaign and we can expect only further dire news for the public sector in particular with regards to expected pay squeezes and job cuts.

It will be a highly depressing period from now until whenever the election is for public sector workers as both mainstream parties attempt to out-cut one another in respect of deep cuts in public sector services and/or the transfer of services into the private sector.

I'll be exposing what all of this means, particular from a grassroots trade union perspective over the coming months, and hope, in my own small way, to contribute to the fightback from the educational front.

In the meantime however, I hope you find the slide back into work an easy one.

Any thougts/comments on what we can expect in the run-up to the election will be welcome.