Notoriously Militant

Joint event with the People’s Bookshop: Sheila Cohen – ‘Notoriously Militant: The Story of a Union Branch at Ford Dagenham’

Dear Comrades

I wanted to let you know about a great little event that we are organising at the the People’s Bookshop in Durham. On the Friday, 28th of November, we’ve invited Sheila Cohen to talk about her new book on TGWU branch 1/1107 at Ford Dagenham, ‘Notoriously Militant’. We’ve organised this partly to “re-launch” the trades council in Durham after we’ve seen a drop off in involvement over the last 6-9 months. We think that Sheila’s talk will be of great interest, not just to Unite members, but to trade union activists and members who are interested in organising right across the board. It should be a lively and interesting evening, with Sheila introducing a number of fascinating discussion points. If you’ve never been to the People’s Bookshop for a talk, you’ll soon realise that it has a special atmosphere of its own – so I’d really encourage you to get along for this event. The book has received some fantastic reviews and will be available on the night for those who want to purchase it.

Book Details:

‘Notoriously Militant: The Story of a Union Branch at Ford Dagenham’

In 1946, after a series of stormy strikes and a mass occupation at Ford’s plant in Dagenham, Essex, thousands of workers came together in a new branch of the Transport and General Workers Union. Later, in the early 1980s, a band of dedicated workplace activists brought branch 1/1107 to explosive life with support for working-class causes from equal opportunities to the stunningly effective boycott of parts for South Africa.

Notoriously Militant, which takes as its title a tabloid journalist’s verdict on the branch, covers the history of Ford’s Dagenham plant – and its roots in Henry Ford’s early US activities – from 20th-century shop-floor struggles to the 21st-century fight against plant closure. Based on original research and oral history, Notoriously Militant offers a primer for activists and analysts on the confrontation between worker militancy and the rigours of “Fordism”.

This book is a lively popular history looking at –

– Working-class history as made daily by so-called “ordinary” workers

– Crucial questions of direct democracy and membership participation which can offer highly relevant lessons for today’s activists and strategists

– Links between basic workplace struggles and – potentially – revolutionary conflict

– The pressures towards “co-operation” between union and management – and the consequences

– The interweaving of gender and ethnicity issues with the class-based structures of a major industrial workplace.

More than a history of structures – a lively popular history!

‘Sheila Cohen always writes with meticulous research and overwhelming thoroughness. A comprehensive and fascinating history of a purple period for the trade union movement and comes highly recommended.’ – Morning Star

Sheila Cohen is a senior researcher at the Work and Employment Research Unit, University of Hertfordshire and author of Ramparts of Resistance: Why Workers Lost Their Power, and How to Get It Back.

As spaces will be limited, it is advisable to book ahead by emailing

Please find attached a poster for the event. If you are able to forward this to anyone else who you think might be interested, that would be much appreciated.


Ben Sellers

Secretary, County Durham Trades Union Council
Event details:

Date: Friday 28th November

Time: 6.30pm – 8.00pm
Venue: The People’s Bookshop, The Attic, Saddlers Yard, Durham DH1 3NP

We have created a facebook event page, which you can find here – for information and updates:

As spaces will be limited, it is advisable to book ahead by emailing

Displaying Sheila Cohen.jpg


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