Trade Union Classics

Spokesman Books | Trade Union Classics

Trade Union Classic Titles

Our Trade Union Classics series started with Up and Down Stream by Harry Gosling.

Bad News by John Lang and Graham Dodkins charts the Wapping Dispute that involved Rupert Murdoch's News International Limited. The title has received a number of reviews.

In his book, Safe at Work?, Dave Putson demonstrates that health and safety, far from being the product of a more litigious society or the political agenda of overbearing bureaucrats, is rooted in human need, protecting people.

Spokesman's new edition of E P Thompson's Warwick University Ltd 'is extremely welcome. Not only is it a key text on the early 1970s Left, it also highlights with acute prescience two major issues even more relevant today: the attempt by business to intervene in academia and the widespread surveillance of social activists.' Sheila Rowbotham

<span style='font-size: 14px;'>Kettling the Unions?</span>Kettling the Unions?
A Guide to the 2016 Trade Union Act

By Alan Tuckman, Foreword by Mark Serwotka

‘This very welcome book is intended to provide an analysis of the roots of the Trade Union Act 2016. Those roots lie in Thatcher’s legislation of the 1980s and further back to the undermining of collective bargaining in UK industrial relations that developed in the 1970s, in the context of neoliberalism’s rise to dominance.

The Trade Union Act was a transparent attempt to contain trade unions in the position they held before the turn of the 20th century. It has introduced draconian restrictions on the right to strike, and new restrictions covering balloting and picketing. It has also changed the rules on union political funds from the current ‘opt-out’ system to an ‘opt-in’ system, an anti-democratic attempt to reduce the ability of trade unions to fund not only political parties, but also a wide range of other non-party political activities.

As well as aiming to be a guide to the 2016 Trade Union Act and its effect on the trade union movement, this book sets it in the context of decades of attacks on the rights of workers to organise by Conservative governments.’

Mark Serwotka
PCS General Secretary
Price: 14.99


<span style='font-size: 14px;'>Architect or Bee?</span>Architect or Bee?
The Human Price of Technology

By Mike Cooley, Foreword by Frances O'Grady

'A bee puts to shame many an architect in the construction of its cells; but what distinguishes the worst of architects from the best of bees is namely this. The architect will construct in his imagination that which he will ultimately erect in reality. At the end of every labour process, we get that which existed in the consciousness of the labourer at its commencement.'
Karl Marx, Kapital

Mike Cooley's pioneering introduction to socially useful production and human-centred manufacturing systems, with a new foreword by the General Secretary of the TUC, herself an advocate of the lessons of the Lucas Plan for alternative production priorities. Years ahead of its time, Architect or Bee? is essential reading for all those seeking a democratic alternative to the politics of austerity.

'Welcome new edition of a wonderful book' - Frances O'Grady, TUC General Secretary

'Challenges the power of the machine' - New Society

'Essential reading' - New Statesman

Mike Davis - Chartist, Jan/Feb 2017

Price: 10.99

194 pages | Paperback
ISBN: 978 0 85124 8493


<span style='font-size: 14px;'>The Machine and the Worker</span>The Machine and the Worker
By Alfred Barratt Brown

'This is one of the most interesting, informative and insightful books I have encountered on this topic. It is both cautionary and inspirational …

Although it was published in 1934 when the author was Principal of Ruskin College, Oxford, its great strength is that it still provides a multidisciplinary framework in which to consider how to progress further the matters addressed. It shows the need to campaign for socially useful systems in an era of exponential technological change, when the gap between technology's potential and its reality becomes a yawning chasm.

Those initiating technological change usually provide an account of its positive features only. History shows, however, that it is a double-edged affair, a form of Faustian exchange. The author deals deftly with this by providing a sort of balance sheet of the gain and losses of such systems …

This is indeed a tour de force and is written in a form that makes it not only accessible but a delightful read. It should be widely read and discussed, not least in departments of engineering and design, as works of this kind are surely as important as mathematical or machine theory.

The Barratt Brown family are to be thanked for making this book available for republication, and Spokesman Books should also be thanked for making it a reality.'

Mike Cooley, from his new foreword

Price: 9.99

216 pages | Paperback
ISBN: 978 0 85124 838 7
Published Oct 2014


<span style='font-size: 14px;'>Warwick University Ltd</span>Warwick University Ltd
Industry, Management and the Universities

Edited by E. P. Thompson

In February 1970, students occupying the Registry at Warwick University uncovered evidence of secret political surveillance of staff and students. There followed not only fierce debates within the university on issues of governance and democracy, but also a legal battle as the administration tried to stop the press from publishing the documentary evidence, and wider public debate on the purpose and values of university education. Warwick University Ltd will be of great interest to today's activists, because the conflict at Warwick clearly prefigures current struggles over the subordination of higher education to commercial goals, as well as political surveillance, policing, the use of legal injunctions, press freedom and business corruption. This edition includes a new introduction prepared by some of the original contributors, highlighting the links between then and now.

Andrew McGettigan - Radical Philosophy Jul/Aug 2014

Price: 10.99

194 pages
ISBN: 978 0 85124 8295


<span style='font-size: 14px;'>Safe at work?</span>Safe at work?
Ramazzini versus the attack on health and safety

By Dave Putson
With an introduction by Mark Serwotka

'This is an important time to write the history of health and safety in the UK, given the near derision that the term now evokes in the media and from the Government. What Dave Putson demonstrates in writing this book is that health and safety, far from being the product of a more litigious society or the political agenda of overbearing bureaucrats, is rooted in human need, protecting people.

This book describes how, over the last 300 years, an evolving body of surveys, research, legal challenges and often tragic experiences led to an emergence of, at first, quite limited protections. Some of these histories will be familiar to the reader, like the match girls and 'phossy jaw', but others, like the seminal legal case of Priestley vs Fowler, are not. What the varied and fascinating histories indicate is that health and safety evolved to improve not only the workplace, but also our homes, our communities, our roads, our waterways, and public and environmental health ...

Today, there are desperate attempts to reverse those gains. Our Prime Minister echoes the worst of the 19th century's irresponsible industrialists when he says health and safety is an 'albatross around the neck of British businesses'. The burden to take reasonable and practical steps to ensure workers can come home at night is what Cameron objects to when he says he wants to "kill off the health and safety culture for good". Despite this supposedly rampant culture, the HSE records that around 175 people died in 2011/12 from injuries sustained at work while, according to the Hazards campaign, up to 50,000 die each year from work-related illnesses, including 6,000 from occupational cancers.

Workers only got these rights and protections because they organised and fought for them. It is a depressing but familiar tale of history that, today, we need to fight those same battles again. I hope you enjoy reading this detailed, fascinating and engaging history as much as I did. But most importantly, I hope it inspires you to think and to act.'

Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, from his introduction

Dave Putson is a trade union health and safety representative in the London Courts.

WEA London Region Newsletter - Issue 4

A review by the Bookmarks Socialist Bookshop

ASLEF Journal - June 2013

'Seeing the increasing attacks on health and safety and "red tape" by this Tory led government and the support from the right wing media, I would like to recommend a book recently published by Spokesman titled Safe at work? written by Dave Putson who is a union health and safety representative in the London Courts.This details theuphill struggle over the last 300 hundred years for safer practices in the workplace. I believe this is essential reading for all health and safety representatives and indeed anyone interested in their own and other peoples well being. We should all be aware that health and safety regulations and so called "red tape" were hard won rights and should not be surrendered.'
Mr J. Randall, Bexley, Kent (UNITE member, who sent this letter to his union journal)

'I'm enjoying this book so much. I suggest you make sure it's on the stall at the Tolpuddle Rally 21st July. Salam, Shalom, Peace.'
Rev. Hazel Barkham

Price: 15.00

184 pages
ISBN: 978 0 85124 8226


<span style='font-size: 14px;'>Safe at work? - ePUB</span>Safe at work? - ePUB
Ramazzini versus the attack on health and safety

By Dave Putson
With an introduction by Mark Serwotka

This is the ePub version of Safe at Work?, which can be downloaded onto your PC, Sony eReader, iPad and iPhone.

Once bought please SAVE THE FILE and add it to your eReader as required.

Price: 8.99

ISBN: 978 0 85124 8240
ePUB format


<span style='font-size: 14px;'>Bad News</span>Bad News
The Wapping Dispute
by John Lang & Graham Dodkins
Foreword by Tony Benn

In January 1986, some 5,500 workers employed by four of Britain's national newspapers were sacked. The Sun, News of the World, The Times and The Sunday Times were all owned by Rupert Murdoch's News International Limited, and the bitter industrial dispute that followed was to last 13 months.

Although generally referred to as a print workers' dispute, many of those sacked were not printers at all, but managers, clerks, secretaries, librarians, copy typists and messengers who were members of the Society of Graphical and Allied Trades (SOGAT).

In the year following the dispute the authors of this book, themselves previously librarians at The Times and The Sunday Times and active participants in the strike, interviewed many of the clerical workers involved in an effort to document their experiences. Having spent more than a year recording these testimonies and transcribing the tapes onto the backs of discarded fast-food delivery menus using a portable typewriter (money was tight and paper expensive), the project was reluctantly abandoned, the victim of an acute need to earn a living.

The manuscript gathered dust in a loft until, in 2009 (with the 25th anniversary of the dispute fast approaching) unemployment, ironically, provided an opportunity to finish the job. Bad News tells the story of an ordinary group of people thrown into extraordinary circumstances, and how those circumstances affected their lives.

"What comes out in this book is the courage and determination of those who fought for their jobs and their rights against a government that was bitterly hostile to both. This is a book that should be very widely read." Tony Benn, Foreword

Richard Sharpe - Review 31
James Grayson - Chartist, September/October 2011
Sue Sparks - Socialist Review, July/August 2011
Robert Giddings - Tribune, Sunday, June 19th, 2011
Brendan Perring and Ben Welch - Print Monthly, June 2011

Price: 15.00

172 pages | Illustrated
ISBN: 978 0 85124 7960


<span style='font-size: 14px;'>Bad News - ePub</span>Bad News - ePub
The Wapping Dispute
by John Lang & Graham Dodkins
Foreword by Tony Benn

This is the ePub version of Bad News, which can be downloaded onto your PC, Sony eReader, iPad and iPhone.

Once bought please SAVE THE FILE and add it to your eReader as required.

Price: 9.99

172 pages | Illustrated
ISBN: 978 0 85124 7960


<span style='font-size: 14px;'>Up and Down Stream</span>Up and Down Stream
by Harry Gosling

Harry Gosling was born in 1861. He left school at thirteen and was soon apprenticed as a lighterman on the River Thames. The great dock strike of 1889 engendered a rash of new unionism, and much activity within the old unions. By 1893, Gosling had been elected General Secretary of his Union, a full-time post. He was also extremely active in local government, becoming a member of the London County Council in 1904.

It was in July 1910 that Ben Tillett, the leader of the Dockers' Union, convened a meeting of waterside unions to discuss the formation of the National Transport Workers' Federation. Harry Gosling was elected President. Ernest Bevin was soon elected to the Executive, after which he and Gosling worked very closely together. Eventually, the Transport and General Workers' Union was formed out of the multiplicity of unions constituting the Federation, and Gosling was its founding President.

After several attempts to win election to Parliament, Gosling was finally victorious in a by-election in 1923, at Whitechapel. The following year the first Labour Government was formed and MacDonald appointed Gosling as Minister of Transport. He died while still a Member of Parliament, in 1930. All these adventures and insights, recounted in his own words in his autobiography, which has long been out of print, will resonate with new generations.

Price: 19.95

292 pages
ISBN: 978 0 85124 7786


Spokesman Books | Trade Union Classics