Given the wealth of literature which has been generated by the so-called ‘race relations industry’ over the last thirty or so years, it is striking how little of it has focused on the trade union movement. Hardly any specific studies have been devoted to the ways in which immigration and racial and ethnic issues have impacted upon the labour movement or how the movement, in its different component elements, has contributed to the development of policies and discourses around issues of race and ethnicity in post-war Britain. The main body of published work has tended to rely upon what have become standard accounts and interpretations, repeating both detail and assertion from a few sources and thus creating limited, if any, space for new interpretation or analysis. It is also the case that major work on trade union history has neglected these dimensions and thus created the impression of their marginal significance. In a collection of essays such as this one, which is seeking to open up new avenues of discussion, it is vital that issues of race and immigration are part of any overall re-evaluation.