The attack on Progress by the GMB union at its annual conference is odd and reflects the uncertainty of trade unions as they try and work out their role and status in a 21st century which is proving very unfriendly to trade unions across the world. In the United States, only 7 per cent of the private sector workforce is unionized. The figures in France are similarly low. In Britain, TUC membership has shrunk for the fourth year in succession. Union bashers may rejoice, and certainly there are Tory MPs who think the last great bit of Thatcherite unfinished business is the extirpation of organized labour. But workers are citizens and the plethora of labour regulations that the state has imposed is a function of the absence of social partnership that can solve workplace differences as a negotiation process rather than an assertion of legal rights.