Friday, 18 October 2013

Notoriously Militant: Invitation to a Book Launch


Notoriously Militant is the title of a new book which explores the rise of organised labour at the Ford plant in Dagenham. This title could equally be applied to its author, Sheila Cohen, trade union activist and academic who has contributed much to the analysis of the roots of the crisis of British trade unionism and has helped to project a way forward - her last book Ramparts of Resistance should be essential reading for any trade unionist with a concern about the future of trade unionism in the UK.

Sheila has very kindly agreed to speak at Ruskin College (16th Nov at 7pm) as part of her book launch activity. Please come along and bring a guest. The talk will form part of the residential workshop of students of the MA in international labour and trade union studies (ILTUS) that I run at Ruskin.

The blurb for the book provides this overview:

In 1946, after a series of stormy strikes and a mass occupation at Ford's plant in Dagenham, Essex, thousands of workers came together in a new branch of the Transport and General Workers Union. Later, in the early 1980s, a band of dedicated workplace activists brought branch 1/1107 to explosive life with support for working-class causes from equal opportunities to the stunningly effective boycott of parts for South Africa.

Notoriously Militant, which takes as its title a tabloid journalist's verdict on the branch, covers the history of Ford's Dagenham plant - and its roots in Henry Ford's early US activities - from 20th-century shop-floor struggles to the 21st-century fight against plant closure. Based on original research and oral history, Notoriously Militant offers a primer for activists and analysts on the confrontation between worker militancy and the rigours of "Fordism".

This book is a lively popular history looking at -

Working-class history as made daily by so-called "ordinary" workers
Crucial questions of direct democracy and membership participation which can offer highly relevant lessons for today's activists and strategists
Links between basic workplace struggles and - potentially - revolutionary conflict
The pressures towards "co-operation" between union and management - and the consequences
The interweaving of gender and ethnicity issues with the class-based structures of a major industrial workplace.

More than a history of structures - a lively popular history!
To buy a copy go here:

To buy Ramparts of Resistance go here:

See you on 16th Nov!

In Solidarity


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