Spotlight on Cuba in the TUC Library


With news this week that diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba are thawing, we thought we would turn the spotlight on the Cuba collections in the library.

The library contains historical collections from both pre- and post-revolution Cuba. The material includes leaflets, reports, propaganda in support of the 1959 revolution and international material in opposition to the Castro regime.

A small selection of the historical material on Cuba

The library also holds material specifically on the the subject of the labour and trade union movement in Cuba and the effects on trade union rights in the country following the 1959 revolution. This includes material from Cuban unions themselves and also studies and reports from international organisations or delegations visiting Cuba from British trade unions, etc. An example is this pamphlet produced by the Institute for Employment Rights:

Research pamphlet on Cuban unions produced by the Institute of Employment Rights, 2011

The collection also includes UK material in support of specific campaigns for solidarity with Cuban workers against the US trade embargo or in support of Cubans imprisoned in the US, such as the so-called ‘Miami Five’:

If you would like to know more about what the TUC Library holds in relation to Cuba (or any other country) get in touch at or 020 7133 3726.

You may also be interested in our Research Source Note on the Caribbean area (PDF).


Project to identify Cleator Mill strikers


Cleator Mill strikers in 1915

In 1915 a strike took place in Cleator near Whitehaven in Cumbria among mainly women workers making khaki uniforms. You can see more information about the strike on our website here.

The BBC in Cumbria have produced a programme about the dispute which can be viewed here.

They are keen to gain information from anybody who may be able to identify any of the women in the photo above. If you have any information please get in touch.


Back to the ’30s?


Following the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement this week there has been a great deal of commentary about the “colossal cuts” that will need to be made to public services in the next Parliament (according to the IFS) that will push public spending back to 1930s levels.

What was the economy like in the 1930s and what were the trade unions and labour movement saying about it? Material from the TUC Library’s extensive collection can shed light on that question. Take this leaflet produced by the TUC in 1935 in a “call to the workers” about the actions of the National (i.e. coalition) Government. Many of the statements made in the leaflet sound very familiar today: “It never has been a ‘National’ Government. Its character and policy have been predominantly Tory. Its power has been used to further the interests of landlords, financiers, industrial magnates, ship-owners, farmers and others. It has turned a deaf ear to the claims of the workers…. ‘National’ Government began by cutting the wages of teachers, civil servants, policemen, sailors, soldiers, airmen and other state workers. It also reduced the benefit of the unemployed. It cut the education grant. It promised to bring prosperity. Actually it strangled the trade of the nation by its economy campaign.”

TUC leaflet “A Call to the Workers”, 1935

The TUC Library also contains a wealth of material relating to the general economic conditions of the UK in the 1930s. A small selection of such items can be seen below:

A small selection of items relating to 1930s economic conditions

A timeline of events relating to the labour movement in the 1930s can be seen on our history website here. Events include the rise of fascism in Europe, the Spanish Civil War and domestically a number of marches and demonstrations highlighting issues such as unemployment. In 1933 the National Unemployment Demonstration drew widespread support and the library holds a number of documents related to the event, including a number of striking posters such as the one below:

A poster produced for the 1933 National Unemployment Demonstration


New BBC series Heirloom Detectives visits TUC Library!


Filming for “Heirloom Detectives” in the TUC Library

Filming for a new BBC series has been taking place in the TUC Library. Heirloom Detectives, a spin off from the Antiques Roadshow, were visiting the TUC Library to investigate the history of the Order of Industrial Heroism. The award was given for bravery and courage at work, particularly for selfless acts to protect others during industrial accidents. The award was instituted by the Daily Herald newspaper in 1923 when the paper was jointly owned by the TUC (it later became The Sun). In total 440 awards were presented and it became known as the “Workers’ VC”.

The TUC Library contains a file relating to all 440 recipients of the award, in addition to other documents, correspondence, scrapbooks and a copy of the award itself. The BBC were visiting to view the files relating to a particular recipient of the award in the 1930s. The series is due to be screened at some point in the spring of 2015.

The Order of Industrial Heroism medal and certificate

If you are interested in the award you can find more information and a complete list of the recipients on our history website.

Or you can contact the library on 020 7133 3726 or