The health service trade unions have campaigned against the privatisation of NHS services for many years. In 1983, the Conservative Government of the time, led by Margaret Thatcher, started to privatise NHS ancillary services (e.g. cleaning and catering).
This poster from NUPE (National Union of Public Employees) was produced in 1983-4 to highlight the concern of their members about the effects of privatising NHS services. It has a rather dramatic image of the blood dripping out of the letters of the NHS into buckets, ready to be consumed by the leeches held by a laughing businessman.
In 1993 NUPE merged with COHSE (Confederation of Health Service Employees) and NALGO (National and Local Government Officers Association), two other public sector unions, to form unison. The slogan ‘Hands off the NHS’ is still used today.
Jenni Rockliff (volunteer working on poster collection in the TUC Library).
Last week we received a visit from Lorna Holder undertaking research on an equal pay pay strike that took place in the garment industry in the early 1990s. Lorna was Head of Young Fashion at the garment factory Davies and Field from 1979-1986. The site of Davies and Field is now the Rich Mix arts centre on Bethnal Green Road. Lorna is now working with the Jamaica Hidden Histories charity on a forthcoming exhibition – 1980s Fashion Archive Display which takes place from 11th – 27th September 2014 at Rich Mix.
As part of the exhibition Lorna has interviewed some of the pattern cutters who worked with her at the Davies and Field factory, some of whom were involved in an equal pay dispute in the early 1990s. Lorna was visiting the TUC Library in order to look through our material from the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers (and the GMB union, into which the Garment Workers Union amalgamated in 1991).
You can find more information on the project and exhibition here.
Lorna Holder at the TUC Library consulting material from the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers and GMB unions.
Alyson Lawson (nee Bunn) holding a placard during the 1982 NHS pay strike
This week we were very pleased to receive a small collection of material from Alyson Lawson (nee Bunn), nurse and former branch secretary of the Confederation of Health Service Employees (COHSE) at St Mary’s Hospital, Harrow Road, London, during the 1982 pay dispute. The material consists of flyers, leaflets and press cuttings. The dispute also involved all the other NHS unions and the donated material supplements the library’s existing collections relating to the strike.
References to the dispute can already be found on our history website here and here.
A poster produced in 1982 to promote the TUC-organised Day of Action
Cleator Mill Strike Committee, 29 April, 1915 – part of the TUC Library Collections
SERTUC Women’s Rights Committee present an OPEN MEETING entitled
Women’s Emancipation before, during and after the First World War
Speakers – Professor Mary Davis and Chris Coates
(Mary Davis is a prolific author and former Professor of Labour History at London Metropolitan University, and Chris Coates is formerly Librarian of the TUC Library at London Metropolitan University)
Tuesday 16 September 2014
4.30 – 7pm
Refreshments on arrival
TUC Congress House,
23-28 Great Russell St,
London WC1B 3LS
Please register: email@example.com
Dock pickets during the 1926 General Strike
As the 1926 General Strike got a mention in yesterday’s Guardian in an article about the relationship between the dispute and political impartiality at the BBC, we thought it might be of interest to highlight what is in the General Strike archive at the TUC Library Collections.
The events of nine days in May 1926 remain the only time the UK has experienced a “general strike” involving various unions from across many different trades and industries. The General Strike archive contains hundreds of items collected by staff at the TUC Library in 1926. The Library had only been founded in 1922, so the archive not only documents one of the most important events in the TUC’s history but it is one of the first such events to be so richly documented. The archive contains correspondence, telegrams, reports and photographs produced by the TUC nationally and also material relating to how the strike proceeded in local geographical areas. The archive also contains national newspaper coverage of the strike and the propaganda newspapers produced by the TUC (The British Worker) and the British Government (The British Gazette), and foreign press and newspaper coverage of the strike.
A selection of the archive has been digitised and is available to view on our history website here: http://www.unionhistory.info/generalstrike/index.php
As a mixture of data was published this week of an encouraging fall in unemployment but also the first fall in real wages since 2009, issues of the economy, living standards and the labour market dominate public debate and will continue to do so in the run up to the next General Election.
The TUC Library contains one of the the most extensive collections of labour market data in the country. As can be seen from the photo below, our pamphlet collection on unemployment dates from 1902 and contains both national data and also material on local unemployment broken down by geographical area. We also have material on the history of Jobcentres and public campaigns and demonstrations around the issue of unemployment.
Just a small section of the library’s collections on the subject of unemployment
The library also contains a vast collection of material on the subject of wages and remuneration. The material is from sources such as the TUC, the Low Pay Commission, the Incomes Data Service (IDS), the Labour Party, government departments and think tanks, etc. The question of the relationship between workers and “political economy” was proposed for discussion at the very first TUC congress in 1868 as can be seen here, and the library has been collecting material on the subject ever since. The collection covers wages and living standards, payment systems, incomes policy and campaigns for a National Minimum Wage and a Living Wage.
A selection of recent material on the subject of wages and pay
If you’d like to know more about what the library has on these subjects, get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org, 020 7133 3726.
Jess Pauszek and Jenny Newton look at some of the new deposit.
Jess Pauszek, a PhD student from Syracuse University visited us today. She is researching and teaching a course base around the Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers and will be helping produce a digital bridge between Syracuse and London Metropolitan University. She spent some time looking at the archive and also met with Jenny Newton, Deputy Head of School of Social Sciences to talk about how her University uses the materials in its writing courses.
A selection of publications on Regional Development
Following the recent discussion on the Today Programme on the need for regional development in the north of England, the Chancellor George Osborne’s support of the One North report and other publications on the subject – such as this from IPPR North - we thought we would highlight the material that the library holds on regional development.
The TUC and other organisations have produced a large number of reports over the years on the subject of development needs in the north and also in other regional areas of the UK. The photo above shows just a tiny selection of the material the library holds on the subject, including the TUC publications “The North Can Make It” (2000), reports from the TUC’s regional office in the north west, the publication “German Lessons” (2012) and “The Labour Market in the English Regions” (2014).
A number of the war posters held in the TUC Library Collections are public health posters produced by the Government during the Second World War and aimed at civilians in Britain. It was important during the war to reduce the demand on the health care services so they could care for the wounded and for people to be fit and health and available to work. People were encouraged to be even more careful with their health than before with these helpful posters.
This brightly coloured poster was produced in 1940 by HMSO. It provides some handy tips to ‘keep you and others in good health.’ The artist was F Cramer.
Many of these ‘tips’ could be on public health posters today.
Jenni Rockliff (volunteer working on poster collection in the TUC Library).
The amusing correspondence above, found in the library’s archives today, shows the reply of Edward Leggatt, anarchist and dock labourer, to a letter from the Superintendent of Liverpool Street Station demanding to know why he had been found riding in a second class train carriage with a third class ticket.