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Trade Union Bill Rally – 12pm Saturday 31/10/15 – St Helen’s Square

Trade Union Bill Rally – 12pm Saturday 31/10/15 – St Helen’s Square
York TUC are holding a rally to oppose the Tory government’s Trade Union Bill in the city-centre this Saturday.
The rally, which starts at 12noon and is being held in St Helen’s Square in the heart of the city, will be addressed by York Central MP Rachael Maskell, Neil Foster from Yorkshire and Humber TUC, Shane Enright from Amnesty International and regional representatives of trade-unions. Speeches are expected to start at 12.15pm.
Please feel welcome to come along and send a clear message that the city of York is firmly against a bill which is intended to curtail hard won employment rights.
The bill is not just an attack on trade unions, it will also affect civil liberties and human rights. It will require strike supervisors to wear visibly recognisable arm bans, it will require union officials to give notification of activity on social media and it will not allow internet balloting. It is a bill that has been condemned by human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Liberty. 

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Trade Unionism at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research

York Trades Council member discusses paper at British Conference of Undergraduate Research.

The British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR) is an annual conference taking place at different venues across the UK. This year the conference was hosted at Winchester University and displayed a wide variety of research topics.

It was good to see that amongst the discussions of Chemistry, English and Philosophy that I was not alone in approaching the topic of labour unions. Another delegate held an interesting presentation looking at the role of Chinese labour unions in the global economy. This is encouraging as it not only shows young people getting involved in labour politics, but highlights a shift in attitudes towards trade unionism in higher education.

The presentation I gave was titled Decline of Collectivism in the Labour movement?: Individualism, Neoliberalism and Collective Identification. The title and content was derived from an article published earlier this year in the FIELDS journal.

The presentation was mostly well received. Many delegates discussed the themes within the project as well as their own experiences of work. This included how much the workplace has changed, transformations in the labour movement and individual cases of workplace bullying and mistreatment.

Some delegates were also intrigued by the existence of trade unions in society, having previously being unaware of their existence. This prompted delegates to speak of part-time, precarious work experiences as well as agreeing with the need for trade unions to reinvent themselves for a new generation.

The project of course was not without its criticisms. The research I had conduct was based on the analysis of interview data where participants communicated lived experiences within the movement. Some felt that non-numerical data had no place within the economic statements I was making. I take objection to this as whilst something may make sense numerically its application can have adverse social effects. These social effects are best measured through the analysis of lived experiences.

Another criticism arose from the papers’ observation of increased wealth inequality. Some commentators felt that “a rising tide raises all ships” despite many contemporary researchers – including Piketty, Wilkinson and Pickett – presenting evidence to the contrary. Similarly a trickle down economic theory cannot work when the rich are not investing reflect in George Osbourne’s growth figures this week.

Over all it was fantastic to see trade unionism picking up interest amongst young researchers. It highlights the possibilities of a new and exciting future for the labour movement.

A free download of the original article is available from the link below:

http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/23084/1/1111.pdf

RG_Poster2

Collectivism and the Labour Movement

Trades council member publishes research in peer-reviewed journal discussing the role of collectivism in the labour movement.

On Tuesday 17 February the University of Huddersfield officially launched its first peer-reviewed journal Fields. This journal has centred on high quality student research from a wide range of subjects in the institution. Within this first volume I have contributed an article titled To What Extent Does the Ideological Construct of Collectivism Continue to Govern the British Trade Union and Labour Movement?  This article specifically looks at the changing role of collectivism within the labour movement.

The topic of the labour movement, and trade unionism in particular, I felt was quite an important topic to visit. Over the summer Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty First Century drew attention to the issue of inequality within contemporary society. By the end of last year Richard Wilkinson – author of the Spirit Level – published a Fabian pamphlet making a direct link between trade union decline and increased inequality.

Recently I did a talk at Huddersfield Labour party discussing my article where a member of the audience remarked “I don’t think we’ve had a discussion on trade unions since the miners’ strike.” Therefore I think now is the perfect time to re-address and re-evaluate trade unions and the positive role they play in society.

Within my research I have discussed the declining role of collectivism within the British Labour Party and trade union movement. I hypothesised that due to changes in the structures of capitalism trade unions have had to individualise some of their foundations leading to a decline of collectivism. I also hypothesised that due to these changes Labour have also altered their traditional collectivist position – to most readers this will seem more apparent.

In order to test these hypotheses I conducted interviews with experienced shop stewards varying in age, occupation and gender. These interviews highlighted that whilst the labour movement has undoubtedly changed and individualised, notions of collectivism are still present but its meaning has transformed. If trade unions can harness these new interpretations it could develop a new way of crafting collective social identities which could be used for mobilisation.

This conclusion I felt was an important intervention to what has currently been written on the topic. In order to download this article for free follow the link below.

http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/23084/