Unite the Union and the Marx Memorial Library are creating the largest collection of Oral Histories from working people. Sharing stories of struggle, collectivism and what it means to be a member and activist within the trade union movement.
Unite’s FRANCO VILLANI has been presented with the TUC Health & Safety Wellbeing Representative of the Year Award for the Humber and Yorkshire Region.
It was justly awarded for his work in helping to ensure that procedures have been adopted to protect his fellow workers at Bridlington Hospital during COVID19.
In part 2, Mark describes 2 successful strikes by Unite members in 2010 and 2014.
“I hope I have given you an insight as to how low paid workers can organise…. We need to get into McDonalds, fast food industries… all workplaces have the potential for trade union organisation.”
These are edited exerts of a much longer interview for the Unite Oral History project.
Mark Robertson worked at Tyneside Safety Glass in Gateshead from 1976 to 2020.
In part 1 he describes becoming a union steward in the 1980s and how he was subsequently able to build an effective workplace union organization that in turn improved the wages and conditions of employees at a low paid workplace.
Mohammad Taj was a Bradford worker for over 40 years and in 2013 he was the first Asian person and first bus worker to hold the post of TUC President. In this piece he puts forward the case for a clampdown on tax avoidance. He also examines what he believes are Britain’s ill-fated military operations.
Mohammad Taj was a Bradford worker for over 40 years and in 2013 he was the first Asian person and first bus worker to hold the post of TUC President. In this piece he recalls how, even in the most difficult of circumstances, he refused to accept racism. He also recalls from his early years how he became aware that many older Asian workers felt proud of their roles they had played in rebuilding Britain after WWII.
He recalls his joy at becoming TUC President and what he sought to achieve during his one year in post. Finally In this piece he recalls how in 1981 support amongst bus drivers in Bradford was built for young people who had opposed fascism.
In this piece he recalls how bus drivers at his workplace built a Labour Party workplace branch. This led to a number of workers becoming local councillors, which in turn ensured the issues bus workers wanted to pursue to defend their jobs and conditions were raised on important political bodies. Taj, who retired on a decent pension in 2015, argues for decent pensions for all. He also recalls the largely successful period in the 1980s and 90s when bus workers across West Yorkshire owned 49% of the company they worked for.
Mohammad Taj was a Bradford Bus tworker for over 40 years and in 2013 he was the first Asian person and first bus worker to hold the post of TUC President. In this piece he recalls the struggle to get more Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority members of the TGWU active across the union.
Allyson Daykin of KP Foods in Rotherham was elected to the TGWU women’s regional and national committees from the mid-1980s through to the second half of the 1990s. In this podcast she describes how she won support for a union inquiry on the impact of repetitive workplace practices on women workers. When it was discovered that women were being injured it then proved possible to push some employers into adopting safer workplace procedures.
In 1971 and inspired by the 1970 Equal Pay Act, Allyson and her young workmates got organised at KP Foods and later won better terms and conditions. Victory initially though did not just mean challenging management practices!
In 1971, aware that the 1970 Equal Pay Act had been enacted after the 1968 successful Ford sewing machinists strike at Dagenham, Rotherham’s Allyson Daykin and her badly exploited, mainly female, juvenile workmates at KP Foods sought to improve their wages and conditions.
They quickly came up against resistance from the male dominated TGWU workplace branch and thus set out to organise themselves. In doing so Allyson was pushed forward and elected by her workmates to the role of shop steward, a position she fulfilled for 37 years.
This 10-minute interview starts with Allyson describing how her working-class upbringing stood her in good stead when she began work at 15.
Paramedic Debbie Wilkinson, a long standing Unite member, speaks of the successful two-year (2013-15) battle, including a Leverage Campaign plus twelve days of strike action, the first strike in the NHS since the Ambulance Workers took action a quarter of a century earlier, to prevent Unite being derecognised by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service. For more on the background:- https://unitelive.org/resolute-patient-safety-fight/
Our working class histories are not taught in school. So we know little of the Luddites, the Tollpuddle martyrs, the Peterloo massacre or the Killing of Chartists in Halifax in 1842. In this podcast Catherine Howe narrates the tale of a fateful sunny day in Halifax West Yorkshire in 1842.
As of March 2021, former miner Richard Horsfield is a Unite trade union tutor who for two decades up until 2020 was the Unite senior steward/convenor at Wavin near Holmfirth. In this 7-minute podcast he briefly explains the role of shop steward and safety rep.
As of March 2021, Richard Horsfield is a Unite trade union tutor who for many years was the Unite senior steward/convenor at Wavin near Holmfirth. On leaving school in 1979, Richard worked for the National Coal Board and was active in the National Union of Mineworkers for over a decade during which he experienced the 1984/85 miners’ strike and the brutality of the police at the Orgeave coking works. This is Richard’s short story of his time as a coal miner.
We have created this podcast to share your stories. The stories of working people, their struggles, campaigns and wins. Why they became involved in the trade union movement and how it has changed lives!