The World We Need (and how the unions can help us get there)

Wilson and Picket of Spirit Level fame have written this brief pamphlet for CLASS the Unite backed think tank.

Like their popular book it doesn’t say anything new, but it does provide some useful data as to why there is a correlation between trade union membership and density and overall wealth equality/inequality in society.

What it doesn’t set out is any sort of explanation to why this is the case, or what unions really are. Which is fine, that’s the job of us union organisers.

First of all we have to look at how unions reduce inequality – this seems simple; a union at its simplest is a group of people pooling their money (through subs) and their individual power collectively around self identified common interests

Secondly we have to look at what unions need to do in order to rebuild their strength. I was recently on a panel at a conference where someone in the audience asked me whether given all the defeats of the last thirty or so years unions still had a role in society. My response was that there is clearly still a role in society for ways for working people to come together to exert their power to bring about significant social change, and that in my opinion unions are the ultimate embodiment of that ideal.

The issue is not so much that people need to join unions but that we need to demonstrate that unions are the most effective organisations for bringing about that social change we need. We need to create welcoming and inclusive ways for people to engage in the process of improving their immediate conditions – we need to demonstrate our effectiveness to people both by helping them win successes and by communicating that to others.


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