From the TUC

Unions in a starring role

19 Mar 2009, By

Battlestar Galactica is great – a fact confirmed in today’s Guardian.


Ok, perhaps this isn’t the most obvious way to start a post on the Stronger Unions blog, but stick with me, I’ll get there soon.  There are lots of reasons for BSG’s greatness, which I won’t go into detail about here, but one is the way in which it covers issues that no other US (or UK) TV series would go near in the same way: the war on terror, suicide bombings, and (here we get to the reason for my post) unions.

In series 3 Chief Tyrol (soon to be outed as a…no I won’t spoil it), becomes a fiery union activist, and the ‘Dirty Hands’ episode, shows that it doesn’t matter if you work on-board a starship, when you get treated like dirt by your employer you organise!

What’s almost unique about BSG (especially considering its made in the US where private sector union density is 8%) is that unions are actually shown as part of day to day life. The West Wing also tips a few nods in this direction, but its hard to think of a UK TV programme that does so in the same way – the days of Bobby Grant the union activist on Brookie, or Ivy Tilsley as shop steward for the ‘girls’ in Corrie are long gone. UK television (and other broadcast media) does not reflect the fact that 7m viewers are members of unions, its like we don’t exist. All of which i think reinforces the need for us to think strategically about how we begin to permeate back into the national consciousness. How do we get unions back into plot-lines, or back onto mainstream TV (like this example about Tolpuddle on this week’s ‘One Show’– look 23 mins in).


Any ideas on all this? Am I wrong and unions are in fact all over the telly? Examples in the comments section please!

One Response to Unions in a starring role

  1. Rory
    Mar 19th 2009, 10:59 am

    There was a good bit of imprompty militancy in Corrie last year year. When one of the machinists was unfairly fired from the knicker factory, they initially threatened to ‘get the union in’ to fight the dismissal through the procedures, then decided actually to go on an immediate wildcat strike until the machinist was reinstated.

    There was 100% observance and the strike was successful.