Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Trade Unions and the fight against the 1%

In my N30 Strike speech today, I talked about this graph:

It shows union membership over the last 100 years. AND it shows the wealth of the top 1%.  The lines of those graphs are diametrically opposed!

100 years the unions were young as the labour movement began to catch on and fight the gross injustices around work. The rich were powerful; their wealth, stratospheric. But as the unions grew, so did the gains of the people as a whole, and the wealth of the 1% diminished.

Union membership reached its height in 1978. And the wealth of the 1% reached its lowest point in the last 100 years.

When the people are strong, the unions are strong and the rich can’t take as much from us.

In 1979 that all changed with the election of Thatcher. As she attacked the unions, the NUM especially, she brought in anti-union legislation and union membership fell.  Since 1979, almost every year,  it has continued falling, including through the Labour years.

Interestingly, now in 2011, union membership is about where it was in 1940! There's a long way to go! So join a union!

If you're in one become active in it. If you know workers who aren't in a union show them this. Explain THIS is how we take on the bankers and win! For our future and for generations to come.

AND - if you don't like the way the unions support the Labour Party - which did *NOT* support this strike -  then join the Greens and bring that voice into the labour movement too.

There's a future to fight for.

Together we can win.


  1. I emailed the following to Look North

    The main difference between public sector and private sector workers and the reason for the difference in their pension entitlements is that the public sector is fully unionised whereas private sector workers are substantially under-represented.

    The lesson is clear for the private sector workers - get yourselves unionised and fight to improve your pay, conditions and pensions instead of fuming about being the poor relation.

  2. I agree Dave. All workers should join together and be well represented in their workplaces. That's how workers' rights have been won historically and that's how they can be won now. In many places it will take a fight because the attacks on trade union powers since the 80s haven't been for nothing - it's been precisely for the empowerment of employers over employees.
    Interestingly, if you look at all private pension provision it's much of a muchness with that of the public sector. Except that, as a lowly minion, you get no pension provision, whereas as a boss you get much more rewarded than in the public sector. Trade unions rectify this and directly help redistribute this wealth (which workers have created!) among society.