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Workers betrayed

British unions are incapable of adapting themselves to today's workplaces

By Tony Cooper   September 2003

Since the second world war the trade unions in Britain have damaged or destroyed three Labour governments, but only one Tory government. They didn’t leave a mark on the Thatcher hegemony, which they precipitated in the first place and which left their world altered forever. Union leadership throughout was tactical and defensive. It remains so today.

Union membership as a proportion of the workforce rose initially in the 1970s, when union power seemed irresistible, but has steadily fallen for the last 25 years. TUC-affiliated membership has recently appeared to stabilise, although that is due more to the affiliation of hitherto…

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