Letter: Battling heirs to Tolpuddle

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The Independent Online
Sir: Polly Toynbee (22 July), using as a peg for her piece the annual Tolpuddle commemoration, wrote an ill-informed obituary for trade unionism.

She strangely omitted to mention that on the day before Tolpuddle, the TUC's Respect Festival drew 80,000 young people to Finsbury Park in north London. This event was sponsored by companies such as British Airways, BT, Coca Cola, Marks & Spencer and Ford. When did a political party last attract such numbers?

Neither did she mention that 85 out of the FT-SE top 100 companies still recognise and negotiate with unions, that last year the TUC and member unions recovered pounds 350m for employees taken ill or hurt for work reasons,and that we handled two million job-related personal problems in 1995.

Joe Hill, the American union folk hero, said, "Don't mourn, organise," and that's what we are doing in insecure, unequal Britain.


General Secretary

Trades Union Congress

London WC1