Work and Trade Unions

YES, you should, especially if you’re an employee and certainly if there’s a trade union branch at your workplace and you should do so for a variety of reasons, from personal to political.

Membership will give you protection if things go wrong and provide other material benefits. It will enable you to work with others to make your workplace safer and better. And it is the means by which you can, collectively, protect your wages and secure an improvement in your standard of living.

As Marx himself argued a century and a half ago, in Wages, Price and Profit, the wages struggle is very important. Without it wages would automatically sink to the minimum level required to sustain the individual worker and guarantee the reproduction of labour power. Without it, all workers would be much worse off.

And trades unions are an important vehicle for political change.

Read more: Should I join a Trade Union?

A musical tribute given by Arthur Johnson on the launch of Kevin Halpin's memoirs.

One of Britain's leading communists, Kevin Halpin has been a fighter all his life.
As a child in Preston, he fought the poverty that saw his grandmother die in the workhouse. After the death of his mother, seven-year-old Kevin fought an increasingly harsh father. At school, he fought the teachers who dished out six of the best for questioning religion, and in the streets, he was a champion scrapper.
Later he fought the Nazis in the Mediterranean before going on to become one of the noted leaders of engineering and other workers in a lifetime of struggle for justice and a better world.



One of Britain's leading communists, Kevin Halpin has been a fighter all his life.
As a child in Preston, he fought the poverty that saw his grandmother die in the workhouse. After the death of his mother, seven-year-old Kevin fought an increasingly harsh father. At school, he fought the teachers who dished out six of the best for questioning religion, and in the streets, he was a champion scrapper.
Later he fought the Nazis in the Mediterranean before going on to become one of the noted leaders of engineering and other workers in a lifetime of struggle for justice and a better world.

Through it all his wry sense of humour has kept him cheerful while sustaining those around him. A love of cooking and a keen enthusiasm for invention has also marked the career of this remarkable man.
His sharp observation of the world around him from early childhood onwards helps to make his account of a life lived to the full both readable and inspiring, with many a chuckle at the ironies of human nature.

Kevin has divided his account of life through the 20th century and beyond into 15 chapters.
They cover his early years in Preston; his wartime service in minesweepers; joining the Communist Party and the start of his main working life back in Britain, together with his growing Marxist education.
There's a detailed examination of the impact of the historic 20th Soviet Communist Party congress and its impact on political thinking in Britain. Accounts of political activity, historic strikes, blacklisting and the crises within the communist movement spring to life as Kevin weaves through them the pithy and humorous observations of a man who was there, saw it all and understood what was happening.

This is a book which casts new light on the development of left politics in Britain and beyond throughout the past 70 years. It is an unassuming account by a remarkable man, whose contribution to political and industrial life offers lessons for today.

 



The UCS Work In was a turning point in history at a British level. It was a heroic victory of the Scottish working class, led by shop stewards many of whom were Communists.

Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS) was a British shipbuilding consortium created in 1968 as a result of the amalgamation of five major shipbuilders of the River Clyde in Scotland. It entered liquidation amidst much controversy in 1971, leading to a famous "work-in" campaign at the company's shipyards, led by a number of Communist shop stewards, incuding Jimmy Airlie and Jimmy Reid.

Professor John Foster who co wrote the seminal book on the Work - In, and is also a Communist, addressed a public meeting of Clydebank Trades Union Council in October 2011 to celebrate 40 years of the world famous Work In, and to draw out the lessons which we can learn from it today in our fight against another Tory government and their cuts agenda.