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 click here for a PDF brochure, visit the GFTU website, or keep reading below.

Roots of Racism


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

Venue: GFTU Quorn Grange 

Residential Courses: 

  • 11th & 12th December 2023
  • 1st & 2nd February 2024
  • 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 for the December 2023 course is 27th November 2023. The deadline for applications for the February 2024 course is 18th January 2024. The deadline for applications for the June 2024 course is 23rd May 2024.

Digital Strategy for Unions


A one-day in person course for union leaders to look at the opportunities offered by digital and its strategic importance for trade unions. We will be exploring some of the new concepts that have been developed by unions that combine the use of data with automated systems and digital information/communication platforms. This will be followed by a more in depth 2-day residential course to work with comms and digital officers on implementation for their union.

Part 1 

Price: £50 for affiliates. £100 for non-affiliates.

Venue: GFTU Quorn Grange

Date: 8th December 2023

Application Deadline: 24th November 2023

Part 2

Price: £150 for affiliates. £285 for non-affiliates.

Venue: GFTU Quorn Grange 

Residential Course: 14th – 15th March 2024

Application Deadline: 29th February 2024

REGISTER HERE.

Lessons in Organising


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

Venue: GFTU Quorn Grange

Residential Courses: 

  • 13th – 15th December 2023
  • 12th – 14th February 2024
  • 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 for the December 2023 course is 30th November 2023. The deadline for applications for the February 2024 course is 29th January 2024. The deadline for applications for the August 2024 course is 22nd July 2024. 

Developing Yourself as a Trade Union Educator 


Price: For affiliates including SWU members: £150. For non-affiliates: £285

Venue: GFTU Quorn Grange

Residential Courses: 14th & 15th December 2023

A follow-on course from our Train the Trainer course aimed at union educators who want to reflect on their education methods and explore inventive ways to design and run courses. It will also look at how to develop blended and online learning methods to support and enhance in person training courses.

REGISTER HERE. Please note: The deadline for applications is 30th November 2023

Trade Union Leadership and Innovation Programme (T.U.L.I.P)


Visit the GFTU Educational Trust wesbite for specific dates, prices, and more information.

Venue: GFTU Quorn Grange 

Dates: 

  • Becoming an effective leader: 16th – 17th January 2024
  • Coaching and mentoring skills: 27th – 28th February 2024
  • Developing people: 25th – 26th March 2024
  • Managing budgets and finance together with Managing a safe and healthy environment: April 2024
  • Leading innovation and change: May 2024

As working people and their trade unions face unprecedented challenges, our Movement needs leaders with the skills, ideas and drive to make the world a better and fairer place. Carrying on as we have before in the hope that more of the same will save the trade union movement is not an option. The time for change is now and if you are a union leader who aspires to build our Movement through effective, innovative and bold leadership, then this programme is for you.

REGISTER HERE. Please note: The deadline for applications is 2nd January 2024.

The GFTU Young Members’ Weekend 2024


Held every year, Young Members’ Development Weekend 2023 promotes trade unions to young people and shows how unions are relevant to their lives at work and beyond. It is an opportunity for General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU) affiliated unions to campaign on the most important issues for young workers, give a platform to their organising activities and demonstrate the value that young members bring to the trade union movement.

SWU members and SWU Social Work Student members aged 30 years and under are eligible to apply for a free place. The GFTU Young Members’ Weekend is fully funded by the GFTU who will cover receipted transport and all learning materials, meals, and overnight accommodation.

Full of inspiration, opportunity, education, and networking, this is a real chance for young members across the movement to develop their skills, gain knowledge, and create links with other trade unions.

John McGowan, SWU General Secretary highlights that “the GFTU Young Members’ Weekend has established itself as one of the most exciting, high impact Labour Movement events to inspire younger workers to understand more about their unions, the labour movement and the challenges we face politically and in the workplace. It is a high octane event where SWU members will meet other young activists and learn together in an engaging way, with great support and a ‘can do’ approach so that you can really make a difference in workplaces in the future.”

The dates are Friday 10th – Sunday 12th May 2024 at the fantastic Quorn Grange Hotel in Leicestershire.

The deadline for applications is 19th April 2024. As a member of SWU you can apply for your free place on the GFTU website.

The Bigger Picture: Autumn 2023 Series of Online Seminars


These online, 90 minutes sessions are aimed at all trade unionists who want to take a step back in order to consider the wider forces at play that affect our lives. We know that the world is changing and that such changes affect us in many seen and unseen ways – but what do these changes mean for trade unionists and what influence can we bring to bear.

Price: Free for affiliates & non-affiliates.

Dates: 

  • 30th September 2023 (11am) – Where next for Trade Union organising?
  • 13th January 2024 (11am) – Conflict and Co-operation in a Multi-Polar World
  • 11th May 2024 (11am) – Media Bias and the Search for Truth

REGISTER HERE.

Tackling Sexual Harassment (Online)


Price: Free for affiliates including SWU members. For non-affiliates: £50.

Venue: Online

Dates: 22nd January 2024 / 20th May 2024

A one-day online course to help workplace representatives understand the nature of workplace sexual harassment, how to spot it and how to deal with it. It will explore reasons why sexual harassment is often not reported and the steps that unions and employers should take to ensure that harassment is taken seriously.

REGISTER HERE. Please note: The deadline for applications for the Janaury 2024 course is 8th January 2024. The deadline for applications for the May 2024 course is 6th May 2024. 

Bite Size Online Sessions (Online)


The GFTU will be continuing their successful bite size courses during 2023 with regular online sessions.

Bitesize Sessions: Equalities

Dates: Every Monday for 10 weeks from 15th January 2024, 6.00-6.30pm. (15th, 22nd, 29th January 2024, 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th February 2024, 4th, 11th, 18th March 2024.)

Price: Free for affiliates such as SWU members. For non-affiliates: £50 (£5 a session).

A series of ten 30-minute online sessions that will each examine a different aspect of equality. Each session will explore help union activists promote equality and tackle inequality in their workplace.

The sessions will cover:

  • Equality act
  • Wider equality issues
  • Reasonable adjustments and disability
  • Age discrimination
  • Equal pay for work of equal value
  • Gender pay gap
  • Sexual Harassment and Sex Discrimination
  • LGBT+ equality issues
  • Has racism been eradicated in the UK?
  • The (not so) new far right

REGISTER HERE. Please note: The deadline for applications is 2nd January 2024.

Bitesize Sessions: Employment Law

Dates: Every Monday for 10 weeks from 3rd June 2024, 6 – 6:30pm.  

Price: Free for affiliates such as SWU members. For non-affiliates: £50 (£5 a session).

A series of ten 30-minute online sessions that will each examine a different aspect of employment law. Each session will be focused on explaining the law in simple terms with the intention that union activists can use in their day-to-day activities.

The sessions will cover:

  • Case Law Update
  • Bonfire of EU Regulation
  • Limitations of employment law
  • Employment law audit
  • Redundancy
  • TUPE
  • Disciplinary and dismissal
  • Grievances
  • Time off for TU duties
  • Information for collective bargaining

REGISTER HERE. Please note: The deadline for applications is 20th May 2024.

Workplace Reps


Workplace Reps – Stage 1 (5 days)

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

Venue: GFTU Quorn Grange

Residential Courses: 

  • 17th – 19th January 2024 (Follow-on sessions: 5th February & 4th March 2024)
  • 26th – 28th June 2024 (Follow-on sessions: 19th July & 9th August 2024)

The essential first course for all new union activists. The course is split into a 3-day residential course followed by two further days delivered online.

The GFTU will be looking at the role of the rep, how to effectively represent members in a variety of situations, how to build the union in your workplace, and the importance of good communication with members and your union.

REGISTER HERE. Please note: The January course is now full.  The deadline for applications for the June 2024 course is 13th June 2024. 

Workplace Reps – Stage 2 (5 days)

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

Venue: GFTU Quorn Grange

Residential Courses: 

  • 14th – 16th February 2024 (Follow-on sessions: 8th March & 12th April 2024)
  • 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 for the February 2024 course is 1st February 2024. The deadline for applications for the June 2024 course is 10th June 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.
  • 19th March 2024 – The Great Dock Strike, Phil Katz (printer, designer, author and labour movement activist).
  • 16th April 2024 – Who was Tom Mann, Phil Katz (printer, designer and author, Yours for the Revolution: the evolution of Tom Mann’s political thought).

REGISTER HERE.

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

Dates: 

  • 6th March 2024 (1pm – 4pm)
  • 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 for the March 2024 course is 1st March 2024. The deadline for applications for the June 2024 course is 28th June 2024. 

Health and Safety


Health and Safety – Stage 1

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

Venue: GFTU Quorn Grange

Residential Courses: 

  • 24th – 26th January 2024 (Follow-on sessions: 12th February & 11th March 2024)
  • 7th – 9th May 2024 (Follow-on sessions: 31st May & 24th June 2024)

The essential first course for new union representatives – both shop stewards and safety representatives. The course is split into a 3-day residential course followed by two further days delivered online.

We will explore the trade union approach to health and safety, how to spot and deal with safety hazards, the rights and responsibilities of union representatives, and the main aspects of health and safety legislation. We will also cover how to carry out safety inspections and participate in safety committees.

REGISTER HERE. Please note: The deadline for applications for the January 2024 course is 10th January 2024. The deadline for applications for the May 2024 course is 22nd April 2024. 

Health and Safety – Stage 2

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

Venue: GFTU Quorn Grange

Residential Courses: 

  • 19th – 21st February 2024 (Follow-on sessions: 15th March & 11th April)

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

We will build knowledge of workplace safety legislation and how this can be used to not only ensure a safer workplace but also as a tool for building wider union organisation.

REGISTER HERE. Please note: The deadline for applications for the February 2024 course is 5th February 2024. 

Train the Trainer


Price: For affiliates including SWU members: £150. For non-affiliates: £285.         

Venue: GFTU Quorn Grange 

Residential Course: 13th – 15th May 2024

Online Follow-on Sessions: TBC                             

This course is aimed at any activist or officer who delivers training for union activists. The aims of this introductory course are to equip participants to be able to run training sessions and to explore ways in which they can make sessions lively and interactive.

The broad outline of the course is:

  • how adults learn and learning styles
  • making group work
  • variety of learning methods
  • using a scheme of work
  • assessment and evaluation
  • dealing with difficult situations

At least one follow on session will be held online to support participants in planning and delivering their own session.

REGISTER HERE. Please note: The deadline for applications is 29th April 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.