Socialist Worker

New pamphlet: Time to Get Organised

Regi Pilling reviews Time to Get Organised: Building the union in your workplace, a new pamphlet by Paul McGarr

Issue No. 2298

How to build a union at work, with cartoons by Tim Sanders

How to build a union at work, with cartoons by Tim Sanders

Time to Get Organised is a tool for all workers, whether in public or private sector workplaces.

The strikes in 2011 have seen more and more people join trade unions.

But trade union leaders let down large sections of the working class when they failed to seize the momentum after the strikes on 30 November last year.

The London strike on 28 March this year was a great success but it wasn’t the national fightback that we need.

This recent history shows that we need to have strong rank and file organisation if we are going to win.

This throws up two key challenges—how new union members can get involved—and how experienced members can encourage new recruits to be active.

Paul’s pamphlet provides practical advice on how to take those first steps—how to find your union rep and how to hold meetings. From these steps you can generate the “smell of a union presence” in your workplace.

Reps need to build a culture of collective organisation and make sure all members get involved with union work.

Paul highlights the “danger zones” of union activity—such as becoming the “union lawyer” and becoming bogged down in casework—as well as ways to avoid this. It’s a useful guide regardless of the length of your union experience.

Members can be mobilised by talking about the big picture.

Workers need to raise political arguments and connect the fights together rather than simply seeing it as a struggle simply over pensions, for example.

Paul provides pointers on how to develop a more political culture by building solidarity with other campaigns and inviting members along to political meetings.

The pamphlet does not set out to provide a magic recipe that will automatically build militant union organisations.

But it does provide a comprehensive set of pointers and ideas to help new and experienced members reshape union branches and structures in these critical times.

Time to Get Organised, £2. Available now from Bookmarks, the socialist bookshop. Go to

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Article information

Tue 10 Apr 2012, 18:20 BST
Issue No. 2298
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