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Book Review Rejuvenating trade unionism

Livingston puts trade union know-how at your fingertips

Make Bosses Pay: Why We Need Unions
by Eve Livingston
Pluto Press £9.99

THE need for trade unions in both British society and beyond is not a concept that will be far from the mind of many, if any, Morning Star readers.

Unfortunately for us all, not every worker in Britain is yet a dues-paying union member so may need a wee push to see the benefits of organised labour.

That is where Eve Livingston comes in. Some of you may recognise the name, with the author having deputised for the paper in Scotland on occasion in recent years.

Now, turning her hand to a slightly longer body of work, she has brought her brand of considered and thought-provoking writing to her new book, Make Bosses Pay: Why We Need Unions.

The debut work is an effective manifesto targeting young workers and those who have largely been left behind by the older, white and mostly male world of traditional union organising.

Decades of attempts from the right — and, sadly, the centre — to delegitimise the efforts of collectivisation means that many industries, which have become increasingly prevalent and exploitatory in the 21st century are missing a widespread culture of union membership.

But Livingston’s book, in having diverse — and crucially, young — voices as the bricks upon which the case for trade unions is built, fills in the gaps which often the left has been reluctant to address. Worse, we are often ignorant to them.

Organisers from the newer kids on the organising block such as the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain, the United Voices of the World, Unite Hospitality and even tenants’ unions tap immediately into the minds of the younger generations, who are increasingly screwed over by the Tory government.

Livingston debunks the myth of human resources departments which, she says, solely exists to damage control on behalf of the bosses.

Crucially, a sense of self and the reality of unions as bodies of workers needs developing with everyone getting involved in their own particular struggles instead of hoping for a quick fix from above.

Livingston’s guidance couldn’t be simpler: if you want to see change act to organise, collectivise and revolutionise your workplaces and communities. A must read.


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