Awkward squad (trade unionists)

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The awkward squad was an informal grouping of socialist trade unionists in the United Kingdom.

The group arose in the early 2000s when seven leaders of smaller trade unions who held membership of the General Council of the Trades Union Congress began meeting to discuss common positions with respect to larger unions. The group shared left-wing views and began co-operating on broader political and industrial matters,[1] opposing what they regarded as the economically liberal policies of the ruling New Labour faction of the Labour Party.[2] It included such figures as Bob Crow of the RMT, Mark Serwotka of the PCS and Jeremy Dear of the NUJ.[1]

The awkward squad was split between those who wish to "reclaim" the Labour Party for socialism, and those who want to break with Labour and try to build a new socialist movement. Some of the latter supported other parties, including the Scottish Socialist Party and the Respect Party. The group soon became less closely knit, with two members losing their union posts: in July 2003, Mick Rix of ASLEF was ousted by the moderate Shaun Brady,[3][4][5] while two years later, Andy Gilchrist, a member of the "reclaim Labour" grouping, was ousted by Matt Wrack,[6] who is more inclined towards building a new party.

Gilchrist has said that "It's a well known secret that many of us meet up to discuss. We'll support each other on specific issues and follow each other's lead."[citation needed]


Other trade union leaders associated with the group included:


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Francis Beckett, "Back and blooming", The Guardian, 29 October 2002
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-03-11. Retrieved 2010-04-05. 
  3. ^ "Leftwinger Rix loses Aslef post". BBC News. 17 July 2003. 
  4. ^ Millward, David (14 August 2004). "'Left's kangaroo court' axes Aslef's moderate leader". The Daily Telegraph. 
  5. ^ "Profile: Shaun Brady". BBC News. 13 August 2004. 
  6. ^ "Gilchrist out as fire union boss". BBC News. 6 May 2005. 
  7. ^ Beckett, Francis (8 September 2003). "Awkward? Us? Never!". New Statesman.