The relationship between the trade unions and the Labour party has dominated the headlines over recent months: the Falkirk selection row, the use of party funding as a means to buy influence… These issues are nothing new – as our history essay on page 10 shows, since the beginnings of the
relationship in the 1900s it’s been a rocky road with frequent tiffs and accusations of bribery, misogyny and excessive influence.
While Ed Miliband and Len McCluskey have been fighting it out on the front pages, behind the scenes much hard work has been taking place to represent members’ interests – whether it’s fighting to save jobs and wages, supporting food banks or campaigning against draconian welfare reforms and cuts to much needed public services.
However, little media attention has been afforded to this aspect of what unions do, thus hindering public understanding of what they achieve. Consequently the unions suffer from what could be described as an image problem. We look at what could be done to address this on page 16.
And of course, we have our guide: detailed listings of Britain’s unions, international counterparts and other useful contacts.
9 September 2013