As the trade unions representing over two million public sector workers across the United Kingdom gear up for what will be the biggest strike to hit the country in decades, Britain's Trade Union Congress (TUC) has put together a pop music track to help raise awareness about the impending strike.
The strike concerns public sector pensions and the unions are responding to the UK government's plans to raise contributions. The Government states that the increases are needed to help balance the economy (the Conservative Party position is explained here
). The TUC counters that the pensions are self-funding (the TUC position is outlined here
). Putting the pros and cons of the reforms to one side, it is highly unusual for a campaigning body like the TUC to put out a piece of popular music.
The track is called "Let’s Work Together", produced by Jeff Chegwin, and it is a cover of Canned Heat’s 1970s hit. The re-make has vocals from fourteen non-professional singers
who hold a variety of public sector jobs, including a teacher, civil servant, social worker, nurse, physiotherapist and midwife. They have come together under the group name "The Workers" (on the NOVA MUSIC label). The track was recorded in Chiswick, West London and is also accompanied by a specially shot video.
The aim of the TUC is to get the song into the music charts before the 30th November. Aside from this media orientated intention, the song also has a fund raising purpose with all proceeds going to the UK charity Age Concern
In a press statement
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “No song could better meet our twin goals. Not only does it capture the determination of public sector staff to reach a fair settlement of the pensions issue but also what is so special about the magnificent people who provide our vital services."
The choice of song certainly ties with the call for collective action, and the track includes the refrain: “Because together we will stand/Every boy, girl, woman and man.”
It is unlikely, once the campaign is over, that the song will stand up with the protest songs of Joe Hill, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan or Billy Bragg, but is sign that campaigning organisations are finding new and novel ways to reach out to the general public.