“So, what’s a trade union then?” is a question that 30 years ago would have been laughed out of Britain’s pubs and social clubs in a whirlwind of Communist manifestos and choreographed chanting. Everyone paid their subs. Everyone took to the streets. Everyone stood together.
12.2 million people were part of some form of trade union by the end of the 70s. But successive Conservative governments and the invention of Blue Labour have since pushed the movement to the brink of irrelevance. Even Ed Miliband, who got the top job at Labour on the back of his ties to the union movement, is now vociferously biting the hand that fed him and cutting back at its influence within his party.
For the remaining union members, that initial question no longer seems so laughable.
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