A Glorious History

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For the first time the story of print and paper workers’ struggle for rights and trade union freedoms is brought together in one illustrated volume. From the resources of the Printworkers’ Collection at the Marx Memorial Library and Workers’ School, the 72-page book brings together the experiences and exploits of print and paper worker agitation spanning 250 years.  

An introductory overview leads the reader to chapters on specific issues and trade union organisation showing how, in co-operation and sometimes in competition, trade unionists fought against poverty, injustice and exploitation. Graphic events are described from the days of imprisonment and transportation of the early trade unionists through to the major struggles for better conditions and later against attacks on jobs and recognition.

Most of the material for this booklet has been gathered from histories that were written after some of the most essential of workers’ trade union rights and collective liberties had been won: immunity from prosecution for strike action, picketing rights, ability to protect 100% membership (the closed shop). Struggles for basic rights were referred to as history, not battles yet to be fought. Twentieth century establishment of negotiating processes with employers and agreed referral to government-approved conciliation mechanisms including government ministers are in stark contrast to the contempt for trade unions and workers’ rights by employers and Government today. 

Authors Tony Burke and Ann Field are retired senior national officials of Unite and formerly of the Graphical Paper & Media Union.  

For a print copy of A Glorious History please email: Debra.Belle@unitetheunion.org

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