As the press talks of a rebirth of militant trade unionism there could not be a more important time for this major work to be published. Trade union reps spend hours every day sorting out individual problems – from questions of wages to cases of discrimination, from redundancies to unfair dismissals and health and safety problems. 

“Were history what it ought to be, an accurate literary reflex of the times with which it professes to deal”, wrote James Connolly, the great Irish trade union leader and Marxist, “the pages of history would be almost entirely engrossed with a recital of the wrongs and struggles of the labouring people, constituting, as they have ever done, the vast mass of mankind.” (1) But standard history treats the working class with contempt, derision, hatred and misrepresentation whenever it “dares to throw off the yoke of political or social servitude.”

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