The Covid, climate and cost of living crises all hang heavy in the air. It’s more obvious than ever that we need radical social and political change. But in the vacuum left by defeated labour movements, where should we begin? For long-time workplace activist Ian Allinson, the answer is clear: organising at work is essential to rebuild working-class power. In his forthcoming book, he explains how it’s done.
Click here to pre-order copies of this book at the discount price of £10 each.
The basic idea is simple: organising builds confidence, capacity and collective power – and with power we can win change. Workers Can Win is an essential, practical guide for rank-and-file workers and union activists. Drawing on more than 20 years of organising experience, Ian Allinson combines practical techniques with an analysis of the theory and politics of organising and unions.
The book offers insight into tried and tested methods for effective organising. It deals with tactics and strategies, and addresses some of the roots of conflict, common problems with unions and the resistance of management to worker organising. Its approach is based on organising from the below. It features original cartoons by Colin Revolting throughout. As a 101 guide to workplace organising with politically radical horizons, Workers Can Win is destined to become an essential tool for workplace struggles in the years to come.
Ian Allinson has been a workplace activist since 1991, working for a private sector employer that did not recognise the union for most workers, and where he led a number of strikes including the first national strike in the IT industry. He served ten years on the National Executive Committees of Amicus and Unite, and was a candidate for Unite General Secretary in 2017. He is currently Industrial Action Coordinator on the Executive Committee of Manchester TUC, where he was previously President. Ian has written extensively for rs21.
Ian Allinson comments on the current rail strike, ‘What the RMT are doing is demonstrating the power of collective action. The TUC say that Google searches for “join a union” have increased by 184% in a week, and we know that the best form of solidarity that we can do is to make sure we organise and we fight wherever we’re working and make sure the Tories have fights on every front and can’t concentrate their energies on the RMT.’
Charlotte Powell, an rs21 organiser and former secretary of the IWGB universities branch, explains, ‘Workers Can Win is a comprehensive guide to organising in the workplace in Britain.’ Zad El Bacha, a former Unite workplace rep, adds that ‘The book takes you on a journey from how do you start a union in your workplace in a completely un-unionised place to the point of strike action. Ian Allinson is the man who helped me turn my workplace from somewhere where only four people were in the union to somewhere where we had a majority union membership.’
And it’s about more than just getting people to join the union, as Ian explains: ‘I think when people talk about organising at work they often just focus on recruiting people into the union. What I’m more interested in is building collective power. People are getting a glimpse of the power that we can get by organising at work, particularly with the rail strike, but we need that everywhere. Most people aren’t in unions. People have been subject to the whims of employers and management for far, far too long, and we need to build effective organisation in every workplace. Nobody is going to do that for us, we have to do that ourselves.’
Workers Can Win will be published in October by Pluto Books at £14.99.
More information about the book, including the first chapter, is available via workers-can-win.info. You can sign up for updates about the book from the author.
rs21 is offering copies at the discounted price of £10 including postage within the UK and you can pre-order now.
Praise for Workers Can Win
‘Just at the time when workers are mobilising to tackle the economic and climate crises we all face, this invaluable handbook comes along to provide an essential guide to winning.’ John McDonnell MP.
‘A must read for every trade union activist.‘ Lyn-Marie O’Hara, Glasgow equal pay striker.
‘Workers have needed a practical, positive, accessible guide to organising in Britain for a long time and Ian, using his vast experience in the area has created just that! It will be a valuable resource for union representatives and organisers wanting to grow their branch and union!’ Sarah Woolley, General Secretary, Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union.
‘Drawing on years of experience, Unite activist Ian Allinson has written an organizing handbook that will be invaluable for rank and file organizers and trade union professionals alike. Allinson offers timely, concrete analysis and advice that will be an aid to activists across the trade union movement in today’s difficult work environment.’ Kim Moody, a founder of Labor Notes in the US, author of several books on trade unions and politics and currently a Visiting Scholar at the University of Westminster.
‘Workplaces are key sites of struggle against the hostile environment for migrants, and so to tackle these injustices against migrants we need strong unions. Workers Can Win is a readable, practical guide for organising at work and building the power we need to fight back against oppression.‘ Ida Jarsve, co-founder, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants.
‘Workers Can Win is a vital resource for anyone serious about taking part in trade union work at any level, and also extremely useful for anyone working for positive change in their community.‘ Brendan Montague, editor of The Ecologist and member of the National Union of Journalists.
‘In the age of climate breakdown, militant worker organising is as urgent as ever. Workers and environmentalists share a common enemy in the capitalist class and Allinson gives us all a powerful guide of how to effectively organise for social change from our workplaces. If you’re wondering what you can do in the fight for climate justice then read Workers Can Win!, join your union, and get organising.‘ – Chris Saltmarsh, co-founder of Labour for a Green New Deal and author of Burnt: Fighting for Climate Justice