There's Power in a Union

Unions played an important role in the shipbuilding industry, and continue to support ex-workers

The history of worker solidarity runs parralel with the history of shipbuilding. This photograph shows the famour Jarrow Crusade, which was organised in the 1930s by unemployed workers, who marched to demand the right to work. 

In the years after the Second World War, shipbuilding work became more stable, and workers came to have more power to demand better pay and conditions. The shipbuilding industry has a reputation for industrial dispute, but this varied between rivers and even between individual yards.

Unions played an important role in improving the conditions of workers in the post-war period, especially in the arena of health and safety. Even though there is now only a small amount of shipbuilding-related work in the North East of England, the unions still have a part to play in supporting ex-workers who are suffering from ill health that is the result of their working lives.