New Unionism 2017

Submitted by Gemma_S on 8 March, 2017 - 11:44

This event was scheduled for 11:00–18:00, Saturday 6 May, at Lift, 45 White Lion Street, London N1 9PW, but has been postponed because of the snap general election.

Strike figures for 2015-16 in Britain were the lowest since records began. The Tories have been able to impose their anti-union "Trade Union Act" with only token resistance. While the rich continue to increase their wealth, wages remain low and working-class living standards continue to fall.

How can that be changed? How can workers organise to build power in the workplace and beyond? How can the struggles which are ongoing — rail workers' fights against "Driver Only Operation"; Picturehouse Cinema workers' battle for living wages and union recognition; the struggles of "gig economy" workers at Uber and Deliveroo; and others — be made the rule, rather than the exception? How can we make our unions fit to fight? Do precarious forms of work and the possibility for increasing automation pose a challenge to class and workplace-based organising?

The period of "New Unionism", in the late 1800s, in which millions of workers — many unskilled, semi-skilled, and migrants, subject to profound precarity — organised huge strikes that renewed and recomposed the labour movement, giving birth to many modern unions, holds key lessons for today.

Join us for a day of discussion and activist training looking at both contemporary and historical struggles as we discuss how labour can organise and fight back.

Other organisations and trade union branches will be participating in this event. Want to get involved? Let us know.

Facebook event here.


The day will be structured around three sessions:

Organising the unorganisable? — Are currently unorganised workers 'unorganisable'? What barriers are there to organising unorganised workers? What practical methods have worked? With speakers from the IWGB and from other current disputes.

The lessons of 1880s New Unionism today — What happened in the 1880s which meant many thousands of previously unorganised workers became organised? What lessons can we learn from how it happened? Is the landscape of the labour movement and workplaces different today? Could there be a New Unionism in 2017? With Cathy Nugent and Edd Mustill

Class or populism? – With the Corbyn surge and the rise of populist movements of the left and right across the world, where is the working class? What is the role of the working class in politics?

Each session will run three times so everyone has an opportunity to attend each one. The closing plenary will have report backs from session leaders and a discussion to draw together the lessons from each session.


Tickets are to cover the cost of the venue and will include lunch. Please get in touch at if you need help with the ticket cost or cost of travel.