Tattam was a long-standing Communist and an active member of the Woodworkers Union (ASW) and later UCATT. A London activists, he was victimised on many jobs for his determined defence of his fellow workers. He was elected as a ASW full time official in January 1961 by 1,239 votes to 951.
Tattam played a leading role in the fight against the employers’ attempts to attack the 42 hour week on building jobs by trying to impose unpaid tea breaks.
Like many officers and activists of a left disposition, he was intensely involved in the national building workers’ strike of 1972. Arising from this, he was named in a potentially libellous way in a protected parliamentary debate by Sir Edward Brown, the Tory MP for Bath, who said: “Alan Tattam is a member of the Communist Party and a full-time … officer with the Construction and Allied Trades Union. In the building workers’ strike he often sided with extremists against his union's official leadership. He told one mob raiding a London site: `Right lads, look menacing’. He claimed: We had to push the unions from below. They were reluctant to have the strike. Only the weight of feeling we uncovered forced the strike to escalate. Let me quote Lou Lewis. Do right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite know him? He is a carpenter —” Thankfully, Dennis Skinner – the left-wing Labour MP for Bolsover – intervened in his inimitable way to say: “So was Jesus Christ”!!!!
Sources: Daily Worker 4 January 1961 (Thanks to MW); House of Commons debate on 18th December 1972;