I helped run two classes recently for the Media and Communities module at the University. In the first class I delivered a lecture on the TUC, and the role of trade unions, highlighting the historical significance of trade unions for worker’s rights. Then I talked about the Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers, a network of working class writing groups that thrived during a period of significant social, economic and political change in the UK especially through the 1970s and 1980s, and represented a significant counter-cultural movement. I provided examples about adult literacy, gender, migration, trade union activity and labour history. We have the UK’s largest collection of publications and recordings.
The second class took place in the Special Collections Reading Room which houses the TUC Library. After an introduction I took the students through our exhibition about the 1984/85 Miners’ Strike, which illustrated the broad and diverse support for the strike, with panels dedicated to trade unions, trades councils, and various community groups. There were also recent publications and music that illustrate the continued passion that the subject inspires. We then had an activity based around examples of the Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers, which included testimony about working life and trade union activity, and community action. The exhibition is available as a download and for loan.