Len McCluskey’s Why You Should Be A Trade Unionist is an excellent book, published at a moment in history when working-class organisation is of paramount importance. And while the book could be used as a handbook for shop stewards and union organisers, it is much more than that. It puts forward a powerful intellectual argument that should make politicians and employers sit up and take notice.
Len has been a trade unionist all his working life, from starting work on the Liverpool docks in the 1960s and becoming a shop steward, to working full-time for the Transport and General Workers Union, to becoming the General Secretary of Unite. His vast experience and his own personal story are used to illustrate the points he makes.
Len eschews the bureaucratic or merely functional reasons for being a trade unionist. Trade unionism is a cause that gave him ‘hope in my heart’:
Trade unionism is not just about pay and conditions. It’s about diversity, putting equality at work and in society front and centre stage; it’s about community, politics, internationalism and much more’ (p.10).
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Len McCluskey, 2020. Why You Should Be A Trade Unionist (Verso 2020), viii, 145pp.