GFTU Education Programme 2023 – 2024

GFTU logo

About GFTU Educational Trust Courses

We all learn differently and at the GFTU we pride ourselves on providing topical and thought-provoking learning opportunities, which are sometimes beyond the classroom, such as a conference or live performance. Knowledge is powerful and through learning, we develop understanding that stays with us, enabling us to be empowered to make a difference, to make more informed choices and support others to make a difference for themselves, their union, family and communities.

There is something for everyone who is already active or wants to become active in their trade union. Our aim is to inspire, educate and support trade union activists across the UK and beyond. You may be a new union member just finding out about how to get more involved in your union or a seasoned activist, a full-time union officer, or possibly something in between.

For more information on these courses visit the GFTU website, click here for a PDF brochure, or keep reading below.

Before booking onto a course, please click here.

Roots of Racism

Price: Free for affiliates including SWU members. £100 for non-affiliates.

Venue: GFTU Quorn Grange 

Residential Courses: 

  • 6th & 7th June 2024                         

The course will be led by the prominent trade unionist Roger McKenzie. The GFTU will be looking at understanding the context of racism and where it comes from, the rise and mainstreaming of the far right, as well as challenging racism in the workplace and the community.

REGISTER HERE. Please note: The deadline for applications is 23rd May 2024.

Trade Union and Working Class History (Online)

Dates: These will take place on the third Tuesday of every month from 19th September 2023 to 20th August 2024, 7pm-8.30pm. (19th September 2023, 17th October 2023, 21st November 2023, 19th December 2023, 16th January 2024, 20th February 2024, 19th March 2024, 21st April 2024, 21st May 2024, 18th June 2024, 16th July 2024, 20th August 2024.)

Price: Free for affiliates & non-affiliates.

These online sessions will each last for 90 minutes and will focus on helping attendees understand the subject matter in an accessible and participative manner. Following the success of the 2021 programme of online courses, the GFTU will be running similar sessions with a few more added on. The 2023 programme is:

  • 17th October 2023 – The Levellers, John Rees (activist and author, The Leveller Revolution).
  • 21st November 2023 – Labour Revolt in Britain 1910-14, Ralph Darlington (Professor of Employment Relations, University of Salford).
  • 19th December 2023 – British Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War, Meirian Jump (Director, Marx Memorial Library)
  • 16th January 2024 – The Revolution of 1381, Doug Nicholls (former General Secretary, GFTU)
  • 20th February 2024 – The General Federation of Trade Unions.
  • 19 March 2024- British Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War, Meirian Jump
  • 16 April 2024 – Who was Tom Mann, Phil Katz (printer, designer and author, Yours for the Revolution: the evolution of Tom Mann’s political thought).
  • 21 May 2024 – The Great Dock Strike, Phil Katz (printer, designer, author and labour movement activist).


Workplace Reps – Stage 2 (5 days)

Price: Free for affiliates including SWU members. For non-affiliates: £475

Venue: GFTU Quorn Grange

Residential Courses: 

  • 24th – 26th June 2024 (Follow-on sessions: 15th July & 5th August)

Building on the Stage 1 course, this course is suitable for new activists wanting to develop their skills and is also suitable as a refresher for more senior activists. The course is split into a 3-day residential course followed by two further days delivered online.

The GFTU will develop representation skills as well as looking at how activists can campaign and deal with issues collectively. We will also cover rights at work, the importance of the employment contract and how to ensure the union stays on the front foot with employers.

REGISTER HERE. Please note: The deadline for applications is 10th June 2024. 

The Cost of Living Crisis (and how to get out of it) (Online)

Price: Free for affiliates including SWU members. For non-affiliates: £25

Venue: Online


  • 5th July 2024 (9am – 12noon)

A half-day online course supported by leading progressive economists to explore the economic issues that affect trade unions. The course will be based on the arguments put forward in the GFTU pamphlet “The True Causes of Inflation” and the accompanying book “The Cost of Living Crisis (and how to get out of it)”.

REGISTER HERE. Please note: The deadline for applications is 28th June 2024. 

Lessons in Organising

Price: For affiliates including SWU members: £200. For non-affiliates: £425

Venue: GFTU Quorn Grange

Residential Courses: 

  • 5th – 7th August 2024

Several unions recently have won industrial action ballots despite the punitive thresholds imposed on them by legislation. What lessons can we learn from these successes so we can continue to win for members?

Drawing heavily on the success of the NEU in securing a huge mandate for action from their members across schools in England and Wales, we will be answering this question. This course takes its name from the book written by the GFTU’s new General Secretary and others.

REGISTER HERE. Please note: The deadline for applications is 22nd July 2024. 

GFTU Summer School

Price: £200 for affiliates including SWU members. £425 for non-affiliates. 

Residential Course: GFTU Quorn Grange

Dates: 19th – 22nd August 2024

This is an annual opportunity to take stock and think about the future of the Movement and where we go next. As the GFTU looks to build on recent organising and campaigning successes, the course will help participants to think strategically and embrace new ideas.

The GFTU Summer School provides the space and stimulus for a bolder, bigger and better union Movement. It is aimed at union leaders who may be experienced, more senior workplace activists or may be full time officers.

REGISTER HERE. Please note: The deadline for applications is 5th August 2024.

The True Causes of Inflation: Weak Production and High Profits

By Costas Lapavitsas, James Meadway & Doug Nicholls

The “cost of living crisis” in the UK can be simply summed up: prices, especially of essentials, are too high, and wages, and other working-class incomes are too low. The basic steps to resolving the crisis are simple: prices, especially of essentials, must be brought down, and wages, salaries, benefits, and pensions must be increased.

This pamphlet published in September 2022 shows that the big businesses dominating production and distribution make huge profits out of high inflation, while working people lose out. It sets out factual evidence to illustrate that the source of record profits is the fall in real wages as inflation rises. A large part of the income of working people is transferred directly into the profits of big business.

Download a copy of this PDF here.

A Series of Seminars: Economic Policy & the Role of Trade Unions Recordings

Each of these seminars will consider critical, but overlooked, contemporary economic issues. These have to be discussed if fresh policies are to be developed with trade union participation to achieve a new deal for working people, our communities, and the environment.

The dominance of the finance sector and lack of investment in the productive economy have created a volatile and fragile environment. It is imperative to consider the latest thinking that could inject dynamism into productive activities, create good jobs, channel finance away from speculation, and achieve environmental targets.

Professor Costas Lapavitsas, Larry Elliott, Economics Editor Guardian, and Grace Blakely, Economics Editor, Tribune, will be among those contributing to this series.

It is hoped that the seminars would lead to new policy development for unions and community organisations.

Economic Seminar 1: Dealing with the Rising Cost of Living (published 16 June 2022)

This is the first in a series of online seminars on the British economy by the General Federation of Trade Unions and SOAS, University of London, in collaboration with the research network, EReNSEP. This seminar covers:

  • The causes of inflation in the Pandemic Crisis.
  • Government intervention in favour of big business.
  • Measures to protect the income and livelihood of working people.

The Bigger Picture: Autumn 2022 Series of Online Seminars

This is a series of GFTU online seminars that took place every third Thursday – starting on 15th September 2022. More sessions are planned for the New Year.

Trade Unionists have to deal with the day to day and the here and now. But what happens at work is affected by wider, global forces also? The balance of those world forces, particularly the US and China is changing. The changes will have dramatic impact.

You can view the first of these free GFTU seminars designed to stimulate online discussion with international experts:

GFTU Seminar: China in the World Today (15 September 2022)

“The Chinese people have adopted a completely different developmental approach than the West. This route is constantly vilified and attacked and distorted in the media. So what is the truth, what are the policies that are driving China, is it a force for peace and progress and social and economic development or not? Is a country that has raised 850m people out of extreme poverty as bad as it has been depicted? Do the people have a say or is everything determined by the 96m Communist Party members? Why have 147 of the 193 nations who are members of the UN signed up to its vast belt and road initiative? Why has the US surrounded China with arsenals of weapons? How does China’s foreign policy compare with that of the US and Britain?

To consider these and many other issues surrounding China and our perceptions of it join Keith Bennett and Carlos Martinez (who are both expert writers and advisors on China), to take part in an informed discussion.”

The GFTU is pleased to facilitate informed debate and critical thinking about many subjects in its education programme and the views of speakers and participants do not necessarily reflect those of the GFTU.

GFTU Seminar: The Decline of US Imperialism (20 October 2022)

“The United States is marred by severe structural difficulties that are increasingly impairing its former ability to get its way and shape the world to suit its narrow interests. A combination of increasing indebtedness (already larger than its GDP), sustained neglect of its domestic infrastructure, poor economic performance and extraordinary levels of military spending are driving it to lose its world supremacy in almost every field.

This situation the US faces is compounded by the rise of China as part of an emerging multipolar geopolitics, but more acutely by the growing challenge to the petrodollar. All of this lies to an important degree at the base of both the string of defeats suffered by Latin America’s right-wing forces and the beginnings of the re-emergence of the Pink Tide with left wing electoral victories in Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia, Chile (possibly also in Colombia and Brazil), plus the survival and recovery of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. This context offers promising opportunities to progressive forces in Latin America.

This discussion will be facilitated by Dr Francisco Dominguez, Specialist in the political economy of contemporary Latin America at Middlesex University.”

GFTU Seminar: NATO – Friend or Foe? (17 November 2022)

“For some, NATO is a guarantor of peace and a defender of democracy; for others, it is an aggressive expansionary military block, leaving wars and interventions in its wake.

To make an informed judgement let’s look at some of the facts: how and why was NATO formed? How is it funded? What is it doing in the world today? Why is this question of interest to trade unionists and community leaders? How does NATO relate to the UN and the EU? How is Britain involved in NATO and how much does this cost us? 

To consider these questions and others CND General Secretary Kate Hudson will provide participants with a critical analysis and background to stimulate debate.”

Watch the Zoom recording of the “NATO – Friend or Foe?” session here.

The GFTU is pleased to facilitate informed debate and critical thinking about many subjects in its education programme and the views of speakers and participants do not necessarily reflect those of the GFTU.