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Alastair Hatchett

Union Limits

(November 1977)

From International Socialism (1st series), No.103, November 1977, p.30.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Trade Unions Under Capitalism
Tom Clarke and Laurie Clements
Fontana £1.95

Where have you ever found an industrial sociology reader in which an editor has argued that

‘Revolutionary workers’ political organisations are therefore indispensable, not only to generalise the struggle to wider society, but within the unions to fight for militant and uncompromising representation of workers’ interests. In this task it is necessary to secure leaders who are committed and reliable, and also to develop the awareness and involvement of the rank-and-file so that they are less dependent upon the leadership.’?

This book is a very useful collection of 20 articles which examine the limitations and potentialities of trade union organisation. It ranges from the classical analysis of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, through the historical interpretation of James Hinton and Carter Goodrich, to the Marxist industrial relations of Richard Hyman and Huw Beynon. It includes Hinton’s Theory of Independent Rank-and-File Organisation from his book The First Shop Stewards Movement, a piece on Job Control from Beynon’s Working for Ford, and an extract from Hyman’s Marxism and the Sociology of Trade Unions.

This book deserves to be read by all those workers whose eyes have been opened by the failure of the trade union leaders to defeat the Grunwick management.

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Last updated: 12.1.2008