“Can’t beat the rank and file!” The future of trade unionism in construction

Running Time: 13:17

There are two approaches to trade unionism – a business friendly partnership, or rank and file militancy. In construction, there is an unbroken thread of rank and file action stretching back over 60 years.

It has won spectacular results – but of course the bosses hated it, as did a number of union officials who found their cosy business-friendly lives challenged.

This film puts the case for rejecting the business-friendly approach in favour of rank and file militancy and grassroots organisation, looking at some of the great victories by the construction rank and file – from the 1972 building workers strike to the No2ESO! campaign in 2021.

“With the bosses, never. With the union officers, sometimes. With the rank and file, always.” – J T Murphy, trade union organiser 100 years ago