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The fourteen years between 1960 and-1974 saw the trade union and labour movement transformed. In 1959 Labour had been beaten at the polls for the third successive time – with political commentators claiming that class politics in Britain were dead. By 1974 a mobilised trade union movement had forced a Conservative government from office, compelled the abandonment of its anti-trade union legislation, released imprisoned dockers from Pentonville prison and twice provided the miners with the solidarity required for victory. The climax in 1974 was Labour victory in the 1974 general election with a programme calling for an irreversible shift of wealth and power in favour of working people.
This volume of the TGWU’s centenary history documents the role of Britain’s biggest union in this transformation. Two remarkable general secretaries, Frank Cousins and Jack Jones, provided leadership. However, it was the TGWU’s members who achieved it: the women and men in the factories, transport depots and docks, who forged the new class unity. The book records their voices. It brings together their struggles from Clydeside, Dublin and Belfast to Longbridge, Dagenham and Heathrow – and it does so with a wealth of new material revealing the tactics of government and employers and the complexity of the struggles for sex equality and against racial discrimination that helped cement the new class unity.