TRADE UNIONS are back on the political agenda as the signal workers' strike drags on and disgruntled commuters contend with the hard slog into work.
But, despite the dispute, the trade union movement is trying to cast off its image of stormy industrial relations and is marketing itself as a campaigning organisation that offers members a range of benefits. It aims to become as influential as trade unions are in countries such as France.
Changing ingrained attitudes and marketing yourself as a professional body is not without difficulties - trade union membership has been steadily declining since Mrs Thatcher's rise to power in 1979. However, trade unions are becoming increasingly commercially aware and provide a growing range of goods and services from mortgages to holidays.
The new style TUC - the body which binds the UK's 68 individual trade unions - will be unveiled tomorrow at its annual Congress in Blackpool.
As well as promoting trade unionism, the TUC will focus more on the outside world and issues that affect UK workers, such as European directives and health and safety.
As part of the relaunch, General Secretary John Monks commissioned designers Lloyd Northover Citigate to develop a new corporate identity. Mr Monks said: "We want the TUC to be widely respected, widely representative of working people and playing a major part in the nation's affairs - certainly as they affect the world of work, economic development and social justice. Our new visual identity will symbolise this change and our intent to be close to the concerns of working people."
John Lloyd, creative director of Lloyd Northover Citigate, summed it up: "It's all part of signalling a new era, and a change in character of the organisation as a source of objective knowledge much less tied to one political party. …