But at its annual conference in Harrogate last week, union members seemed oddly obsessed with sartorial issues.
Geraldine Everett (below), the chairwoman, kicked off the event with a firm denial that she would ever be clothed in anything less than stylish Jacques Vert. "I will never wear a patch-elbowed corduroy jacket," she exclaimed loudly.
And we have to admit, she bucked the overall trend in an attractive deep wine coloured suit and gold necklace.
Later in the day, retired teacher Wesley Paxton took up the fashion theme. During a debate on social class and educational opportunity he was seen to wave a pair of his socks in front of delegates.
"I watched my own mother darn her socks and now I darn my own," he said, explaining how he had pulled himself out of the working classes to become a teacher.
At lunchtime, delegates were given the chance to improve their wardrobes by bidding for cricket shirts signed by the great Geoffrey Boycott and David Gower.
A tin of House of Commons breath-freshening mints, signed by former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, went for an undisclosed sum.