The Printers Collection launch party. View the gallery here



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Sunday 23 Apr 2017
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Printers and Unions
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Print trade unionism is a story of struggle and sacrifice, of pride and self-confidence. Union membership and organisation is closely tied to the development of print skills and craft and of new technologies in a most dynamic series of interrelated industries.

On the following pages is a tale of bravery and comradeship and the evolution of a single organisation to represent workers in all sectors of print production; from paper making, an ancient and key industry, to laser driven typesetters and printers.

The history includes a wide range of lesser-known crafts from paper finishers to bookbinders and electrotypers, from wallpaper makers to letterpress operators. It is a story rich in drama and achievement.

The history of printing is key to any understanding of the onward march of knowledge. Print workers have always been in the front ranks of those fighting to extend access to knowledge, a struggle that, in it is intimately tied to that of liberty, freedom and workers’ rights. Britain’s print workers have also supported their brothers and sisters abroad when they too have been engaged on the same quest.

Special recognition in the Collection is given to those many print workers who volunteered to fight fascism in Spain and who laid down their lives in World War Two.

The following pages are drawn from a specially commissioned history of the Graphical, Paper and Media Unions written by the late John Gennard, Emeritus Professor University of Strathclyde.

John Gennard studied and wrote extensively on the histories of the printing and papermaking trades unions. John’s knowledge of the unions, his understanding of the industries and his support as an educationalist and historian to the many men and women who fought for and supported trade unions in the printing and papermaking trades remains unsurpassed. We thank him for all of his hard work and dedication in producing this history.

Please note that this history is copyrighted. Apply here for permission to reproduce in part or in whole. Reproduction must always include clear reference to origin of the text in the Printers’ Collection at Marx Library and to Professor Gennard.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 10:32