“The Dagenham Girls”.

The former transport union official Frederick Blake, recalled: “When the Dagenham girls came down to see Barbara Castle [then employment minister] in 1968 I was asked to sit in a separate room because she wanted to see them on their own, which is fair enough.”
Mr Blake was described by newspapers at the time of the strike as “the leader of the new suffragettes”.
“Although I was in charge of the union for the Ford factory I stayed in the background because I didn’t want people to think that a man was leading the women,” he added. “I was asked by the bosses to tell them to go back to work so we could keep negotiating, but I wouldn’t do that until we had a good settlement because there were men doing the same job and getting paid far more. It wasn’t fair.”
Mr Blake explained that he was an advocate of women’s rights long before the 1968 strike that made history: “When I came home after fighting in Burma in the Second World War and saw the damage that the bombs had done to the country, I thought,
‘Why don’t the women get medals for what they’ve had to put up with, too?’ That’s what first made me think about equality.”


Image: A scene from the 2010 movie “Made in Dagenham”
.When women machinists at Ford’s Dagenham plant downed tools in 1968 in protest at the fact that they were classed as unskilled workers, while male colleagues doing the same job were thought to be skilled and paid much more for their efforts, they couldn’t have imagined the ramifications.
The three-week strike brought production at the factory – which was the focus of the UK car industry at the time – to a standstill, and the dispute was resolved only when Barbara Castle was brought in to negotiate a settlement.
The Ford machinists went back to work after agreeing to be paid 92 per cent of male machinists’ wages, and the strike speeded up the introduction of the Equal Pay Act of 1970, which made it illegal to have different pay scales for men and women.
The women on the picket line in 1968 endured jeers when a photographer snapped one of their banners declaring “We Want Sexual Equality” partly unfurled, so that it read “We Want Sex”.
The machinists were also supported by the union representative Bernie Passingham, and many had the backing of husbands who worked in the factory.
At the time the practice of women being paid less than men for the same jobs was widespread – a tradition that hasn’t entirely died out
Read on via Made in Dagenham

“It’s not time to cut penalty rates for struggling workers.”

A cut in penalty rates will be an especially heavy blow for women who make up 54% of the hospitality workforce.
Article by Jo-anne Scofield and published 31 January, 2017.
There is never, ever a right time to cut the pay of two million hospitality and retail workers – but now is definitely not the right moment.
With wage growth at its lowest point since records began 20 years ago and housing affordability shifting from critical to crisis, workers need every cent they currently earn. And hard-working hospitality workers, who already earn less than half the average wage, need income security most of all.
Yet it is these workers, whose jobs are among the most precarious and insecure in the country, who are being unfairly targeted through an application by powerful business groups to cut their weekend pay.
While the Turnbull government has been sitting on the sideline, the Fair Work Commission is deliberating on tens of thousands of pages of evidence presented over the past two years to determine the future of penalty rates.
Single mother, Sharon Eurlings, is a long time hospitality worker from Sydney. She works every Sunday. It’s not easy and she and her children miss out on a lot. “Sunday is family day but the children understand mummy has to work to pay the bills,” she says.
Eurlings is angry at the prospect of a cut in weekend penalty rates: “It would be devastating. I would have to find extra work to support us. I’d have no choice. The result would be even less time with my children.”
Eurlings is not alone in feeling anxious about the commission’s decision. Dozens more members of our union, United Voice, gave evidence to the commission, providing hard evidence from their pay packets, financial records and household expenses to demonstrate just how drastic a cut to weekend rates would be for them and their families.
The evidence showed that stretched family budgets would be affected, in some cases, to breaking point.
Source: Now is not the time to cut penalty rates for struggling workers | Jo-anne Schofield | Opinion | The Guardian

“The Man Who Never Died”.

The Man Who Never Died: The Life, Times and Legacy of Joe Hill.
by William M. Adler
This is the new, definitive, well-illustrated biography of Joe Hill, legendary American songwriter and labor hero, with explosive new evidence pointing to his innocence of the crime for which he was executed nearly a century ago.
In 1914, Joe Hill was convicted of murder in Utah and sentenced to death by firing squad, igniting international controversy.
Many believed Hill was innocent, condemned for his association with the Industrial Workers of the World — the radical Wobblies.
Now, following four years of intensive investigation, William M. Adler gives us the first full-scale biography of Joe Hill, and presents never before published documentary evidence that comes as close as one can to definitively exonerating him.
Joe Hill’s gripping tale is set against a brief but electrifying moment in American history, between the century’s turn and World War I, when the call for industrial unionism struck a deep chord among disenfranchised workers; when class warfare raged and capitalism was on the run.
Hill was the union’s preeminent songwriter, and in death, he became organized labor’s most venerated martyr, celebrated by Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, and immortalized in the ballad “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night.”
The Man Who Never Died does justice to Joe Hill’s extraordinary life and its controversial end. Drawing on extensive new evidence, Adler deconstructs the case against his subject and argues convincingly for the guilt of another man.
It reads like a murder mystery set against the background of the raw, turn-of-the-century West.
via The Man Who Never Died: The Life, Times and Legacy of Joe Hill, American Labor Icon.

Burston School Strike: 1914-1939

Photo: Tom and Annie Higdon in 1938.
The Burston Strike School was at the centre of the longest running strike in British history, between 1914 and 1939.
The strike began when the two teachers at the village’s Church of England school, Annie Higdon and her husband, Tom Higdon, were sacked after a dispute with the area’s school management committee.
What a lot of people don’t know is that the Higdons in order to keep the children warm and dry in winter had exceeded the school’s firewood allowance.
This had infuriated the local Anglican hierachy who were also suspicious of the Higdons because they were were Primitive Methodists.
The Primitive Methodists were active Christians who fought for the low paid farm workers and their families and helped them to form their labour Unions.
The icing on the cake though was when Tom Higdon ran a ticket of activists against the Church at the local Council elections.
They won.
After Tom and Annie Higdon were sacked, the schoolchildren, who were intensely loyal to the couple went on strike in their support.
The Higdons set up an alternative school which was attended by 66 of their 72 former pupils.
Beginning in a marquee on the village green, the school moved to a local carpenter’s premises and later to a purpose-built school financed by donations from the British labour movement.
The Burston Strike School carried on teaching local children until shortly after Tom’s death in 1939.
The strike is commemorated each year by the British Labour Movement.

“The Luddites”.

952d8e70a4299effd8fd801119048549IN the early months of 1811 the first threatening letters from General Ned Ludd and the Army of Redressers, were sent to employers in Nottingham. Workers, upset by wage reductions and the use of unapprenticed workmen, began to break into factories at night to destroy the new machines that the employers were using.
In a three-week period over two hundred stocking frames were destroyed. In March, 1811, several attacks were taking place every night and the Nottingham authorities had to enroll four hundred special constables to protect the factories.
To help catch the culprits, the Prince Regent offered £50 to anyone “giving information on any person or persons wickedly breaking the frames”.
Luddism gradually spread to Yorkshire, Lancashire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire. In Yorkshire, croppers, a small and highly skilled group of cloth finishers, turned their anger on the new shearing frame that they feared would put them out of work.
In February and March, 1812, factories were attacked by Luddites in Huddersfield, Halifax, Wakefield and Leeds.
In February 1812 the government of Spencer Perceval proposed that machine-breaking should become a capital offence. Despite a passionate speech by Lord Byron in the House of Lords, Parliament passed the Frame Breaking Act that enabled people convicted of machine-breaking to be sentenced to death. As a further precaution, the government ordered 12,000 troops into the areas where the Luddites were active.
On of the most serious Luddite attacks took place at Rawfolds Mill near Brighouse in Yorkshire. William Cartwright, the owner of Rawfolds Mill, had been using cloth-finishing machinery since 1811.
Local croppers began losing their jobs and after a meeting at Saint Crispin public house, they decided to try and destroy the cloth-finishing machinery at Rawfolds Mill. Cartwright was suspecting trouble and arranged for the mill to be protected by armed guards.
Led by George Mellor, a young cropper from Huddersfield, the attack on Rawfolds Mill took place on 11th April, 1812. The Luddites failed to gain entry and by the time they left, two of the croppers had been mortally wounded. Seven days later the Luddites killed William Horsfall, another large mill-owner in the area. The authorities rounded up over a hundred suspects.
Of these, sixty-four were indicted. Three men were executed for the murder of Horsfall and another fourteen were hung for the attack on Rawfolds Mill.
Throughout 1812 there were attacks on Lancashire cotton mills. Local handloom weavers objected to the introduction of power looms. On 20th March, 1812 the warehouse of William Radcliffe, one of the first manufacturers to use the power-loom, was attacked in Stockport.
Wheat prices soared in 1812. Unable to feed their families, workers became desperate. There were food riots in Manchester, Oldham, Ashton, Rochdale, Stockport and Macclesfield.
On 20th April several thousand men attacked Burton’s Mill at Middleton near Manchester. Emanuel Burton, who knew that his policy of buying power-looms had upset local handloom weavers, had recruited armed guards and three members of the crowd were killed by musket-fire.
The following day the men returned and after failing to break-in to the mill, they burnt down Emanuel Burton’s house. The military arrived and another seven men were killed.
Three days later, Wray & Duncroffs Mill at Westhoughton, near Manchester, was set on fire. William Hulton, the High Sheriff of Lancashire, arrested twelve men suspected of taking part in the attack. Four of the accused, Abraham Charlston, Job Fletcher, Thomas Kerfoot, and James Smith, were executed.
Read further via The Luddites, Spartacus

“The Lady with the Hatchet”.

Carrie Amelia Moore Nation (Artist: White Studio c. 1903, gelatin silver print, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)
Carrie Amelia Moore Nation (1846-1911), a.k.a Carry A. Nation, “The Lady with the Hatchet”
Though Prohibition is synonymous with the Roaring Twenties, the political movement that spawned it took nearly 100 years to catch on in the U.S.
Throughout the 19th century, the Temperance Movement spread across the country, using religious invective and the fear of social unrest to advocate for the abolition of alcohol.
Organizations like the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, the Prohibition Party, and the Anti-Saloon League ran grassroots campaigns, sending their most outspoken members on tours around the country to distribute pamphlets and stir up support for the cause.
The anti-alcohol movement’s greatest soldier was Carrie Nation, a 175-pound, six-foot-tall self-described “bulldog” of a woman who spent over a decade terrorizing bars across the country in the name of God.
In 1900, after a series of what she believed to be visions and divine messages to take up the temperance message, Nation upped the stakes, from singing hymns in protest outside local bars with her fellow WCTU members in Medicine Lodge, Kansas, to using brute force, first throwing bricks and finally settling on her weapon of choice: the hatchet, which she used to smash up wooden bars and break liquor bottles.
By the end of her run 10 years later, she’d become so synonymous with the weapon that followers could buy souvenir hatchets of their own and subscribe to her monthly magazine, The Hatchet.
Read further via Bibulous Bios: Carrie Nation : Raise A Glass.