Rebuilding radical trade unions from below - audio from #DABF 2016


One hundred years after the vigorous labour organising of Jim Larkin, James Connolly, Rosie Hackett, and Louis Bennett in Ireland, we still remember the old labour slogan “An injury to one is an injury to all”.

But in their present structure, are trade unions nothing more than an arm of the state and of the bosses? Do unions function more to control workers rather than advance their interests? Can the major unions be reformed from within, or should we start building new ones? Are militant trade unionists ‘wreckers’, or the future of the labour movement?

In this audio from the 11th Dublin anarchist bookfair speakers from the Independent Workers Union (Ireland) and the Industrial Workers of the World (Scotland) discussed the current state of organised labour and propose possible ways to advance the interests of workers today. They draw on experiences of struggles they have been involved in, specific challenges that unions face, and specific ideas about the way forward.

Dek Keenan is an organiser and member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), currently based in Glasgow.

Paul Bowman is an organiser and member of the Independent Workers Union, currently based in Dublin


This panel is part of the 2016 Dublin Anarchist Bookfair, see for more audio from the many bookfairs click on the Anarchist Bookfair tag

CWU band on Dublin Mayday - Photo by Andrew Flood