Saturday, 20 December 2014

What Manchester says today, England says tomorow (Best wishes for 2015)


A strange title indeed for the last posted item of 2014, but I had to nip into the offices of the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU) yesterday as the organisation is on the move to a new base adjacent to the hotel it bought a couple of year's ago (Quorn Grange - a great venue for TU and left events: and I had left a pile of books there when I left my part-time role to become full-time at Ruskin in Dec 2013.

One of the books, The Industrial Syndicalist, is a compilation of the newsletters of the same name which were edited by Tom Mann, and is a fascinating insight into that era when the GFTU was seen, alongside many trade unions, as the principal vehicle to facilitate and lead syndicalist debate, and ultimately the transition to a syndicalist economy and society.

The first conference on industrial syndicalism was held at the Corn Exchange in Manchester on 26th November 1910, and when the Industrial Syndicalist (Vol 1, No.6 Dec 1910) reported on the outcome of the event it's opening title was, A Manchester message to the workers of Britain, and the title of this post was used to introduce the article.

Whilst the current role of the GFTU has changed somewhat from the heady days of the early 20th century, it is still nonetheless an important institution of the national and international labour movement, and I wish my colleagues all the very best in continuing to serve the interests of small, specialist trade unions and professional associations.

Coincidentally, the famous labour movement artist Walter Crane created the original GFTU logo in 1898, and I used one of his images for the postcard given to current students of the MA in international labour and trade union studies (ILTUS) at Ruskin.

Naturally, it is important to recognise the cultural and political traditions of the labour movement, and whether through the continued use of the imagery of Crane, or the analysis of more contemporary forms of syndicalist worker organisation (see Manny Ness's latest for the best, latest coverage:, I am delighted that myself and my colleagues at Ruskin College (Tracy Walsh, Fenella Porter and Caroline Holmes) have the opportunity on the BA and MA ILTUS to ensure that we honour our collective past and investigate our collective future in our pedagogical approach with trade union learners.

It has been a fantastic year at Ruskin, and whilst we hold our breath based for the outcome of the May general election, we remain undiminished in our commitment to uphold the highest standards of worker and trade union education.

I wish you all the very best for 2015, and hope you have some time for rest over the next few weeks.

In Solidarity


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