Monday, 27 January 2020

Fragments 2 by Alan Woodward (2000)

Fragments 2
Written By: Alan Woodward
Date: October 2000
Published In LSHG Newsletter: Issue 10: Autumn 2000 

Haringey Trades Union Council’s labour history publication, Fragments 2 is now available, after being plagued with technical problems. This year’s edition is slimmer than the original but the quality we hope is just as high. There had been a delay but the book has been professionally designed and laid out, a much better production overall.

It contains articles on the union in the North Middlesex Hospital, an account of furniture workers unions in the East of Haringey by the ex treasurer of the HTUC, Peter Jones, an extract from the Haringey Solidarity Group booklet on the Poll Tax, a well illustrated piece by Dave Renton on the Spurs Against the Nazis campaign and two articles on the Arnaouti bakery workers strike. One of these had been published in 1997, with proceeds to the Liverpool Dockers Strike Support Committee. The other was by an HSG member with a different political perspective.

Andy Pike, formerly the NUPE/UNISON convenor at the North Middlesex hospital, who had written the major article in the publication, spoke on his experiences to a recent meeting of the HTUC. He said that no dramatic events had occurred while he was there but many important ones had, quoting the fight against Trust status, etc. His account has apparently caused some controversy among union representatives still working at the NMH and we hope to get a reply in time for next year.

The extract from the Poll Tax booklet is also controversial because it writes out the contribution of the local Socialist Workers Party and there may be another article emphasising this element. It is planned to have something on the London Support Committee for the Liverpool Dockers, an account of the Left in the Haringey Teachers union, Ten Years of opposing Library Cuts and possibly an article on Haringey Council and the Labour Left. We also hope to get into the local Bruce Castle Museum to examine the trade union banners stored there, which for some curious reason we have not been allowed to do.

Though the difficulties of writing labour history are immense - often few written records, key individuals moving away, very little support from union full time officers - our experience has been that with a programme of consistent arm twisting and persistence, we can record some interesting aspects. The articles do seem to have raised discussions and hopefully will contribute to the re-birth of rank and file unionism and socialists consciousness.

We have sold many copies at socialist history meetings and, as a result of a circular sent round seeking bulk buying by workplace unions and branches, some local unions have made purchases. Our first edition is now out of print, despite a second run, and an omnibus edition looks a distinct possibility. We would welcome offers of assistance for this project.

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