Saturday, September 21, 2013

100th Anniversary - Kilbirnie Women Workers Strike 1913

Women workers in the numerous fishing net factories of Kilbirnie (Ayrshie, Scotland) entered into a battle to secure improved pay and union recognition.

Led by Kate McLean organiser of the National Union of Women Workers who had established a local branch in 1912, 

The dispute amongst the women working in the fishing net factories was fought for 22 weeks, there were frequent skirmishes with the police, but with the help of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, who raised £1,300 in financial support, the strike was finally settled in September 1913 with an agreement which included union recognition and non-victimisation of strikers. 

However, the dispute continued to flare up in factories were the women refused to work alongside non union workers.

Kilbirnie Women workers strike picnic 9th June 1913


Banners in top photo of Kilbrinie women workers include National Federation of Women Workers - Kilbirnie branch banner (centre) and a local Kilbrinie banner  (right) can make out words top line Kilbrinie xxxx Strike and second United and Firm We Stand. Back left Daily Citizen (newspaper) banner

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mr Chairman by Wal Hannington

Mr Chairman by Wal Hannington  - Farleigh press (1950)

"Some years ago I was asked to draft a small handbook for (trade union) Branch Presidents. it was printed and issued, and many times in the course of my visits to branches, i have heard unsolicited expressions of appreciations for the usefulness of that booklet"
No doubt also published as an alternative to right wing TUC General Secretary, Walter MacLennan Citrine's "A. B. C. of Chairmanship" (1939).
What the Labour movement can say is that conduct at our meetings while boring and sometimes stifling is usually democratic and structured, unlike many others outside the movement

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Engineering union members at Grunwick 1977

Engineering Union members picketing Grunwick,February 1977 with AUEW Engineering Union banners. Notably Acton and London north District

Kevin Halpin Chairman of the Liaison Committee for the Defence of Trade Unions (second from left) and fifth from Left, George Anthony president of London North District Committee

The Grunwick dispute was now in its 25th week

Women from the Trico equal pay dispute marched in support of Grunwick workers fight for recognition (Southall engineering Workers union banner)

Hillingdon Dinner Ladies Dispute 1985

1985 Campaign by Hillingdon school meals staff to defend term and conditions (The Conservative controlled Council wanted to stop retainer payments during holidays which would have forced many into poverty).

In 1986 The Conservatives lost power and Labour with Liberal support reversed the decision and to its credit retrospectively, such was the feeling of injustice felt that even the Conservative Councillors on the relevant committee did not oppose the move.

Unions involved NUPE, GMB and TGWU, with NUPE full time officer Eddie Coulson and well respected local branch secretary TGWU's Pete Denman taking the lead.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What are the conditions for the growth of Fascism

What wrote R Palme Dutt in his book

"Fascism and social revolution"
are the general conditions for the growth of Fascism ?

He listed them as follows
1) Intensification of the Economic crisis and of the class struggle
2) Widespread disillusionment with parliamentarianism
3) The existence of a wide petty bourgeois inter mediate strata, slum proletariat, and sections of the workers under capitalist influence

4) The absence of independent class conscious leadership of the main body of the working class

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Gagging Free Trade Unions and "Gleichschaltung" in 1930's Germany

For the German trade unions of the Weimar Republic the union journal was the primary means of communication; the leadership of the trade unions used them as a platform for organising and political messages.                  

This was particularly the case with the "free" trade unions of the workers.  Gathered under the umbrella of the largest trade union federation the General German Trade Union Federation (Allgemeiner Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund) or ADGB, they subscribed to the slogan: "Knowledge is power - power is knowledge".   Therefore they invested a great deal of money in their press and educational work.   

In the year 1929, for example, the member combined trade unions of the ADGB federation spent 13.2 million Reichsmarks on press and education campaigns, while the cost of all their industrial action that year was only 1000,000 Reichsmark higher.   

The ADGB published 33 union journals, 12 union branch journals and other union magazines, 16 union youth papers and 16 technical journals with a total circulation of 6.1 million copies.

This obviously gave the trade unions an impressive power base and therefore represented a danger for the Nazi'- National Socialists.  Immediately after taking power on 30 January 1933  the Nazi regime began harassing the editors of the trade union journals and ordered a temporary "ban" on publication.

However, the smashing of the free labour trade unions began with the occupation of the union headquarters on 02 May 1933 by Nazi SA and SS raiding squads.   Trade union assets were seized, union leaders arrested, tortured and jailed, later some of the union leaders were brutally murdered.

The Nazis crushed the free trade unions, but retained their press organs for themselves.   The aim of the Nazis was "Gleichschaltung"; to bring the union members as much into line as practical with the ruling Nazis Party as had already been achieved with union journals.

This is why we need unions that educate, unions that are free and unions that fight fascism

Trade Unionist must never forget 2nd May 1933

Southall Socialist Sunday School

Southall Socialist Sunday school was established in 1922. (probably May 1922)

meeting at the Co-operative Hall, King Street, Southall every Sunday at 11:30am

The Secretary was Mrs L Groundsell of 34 Milford Avenue, Southall

Other local London Socialist Sunday Schools included

Willesden (Hamilton Hall, 375-377 High Road ) Sec L.V. Dean Chaplin Road, Cricklewood

Ealing A. V Barrett / J. Sherman Superintendent Sec J. Morey

Hounslow 50 High Street, Hounslow Sunday 3pm Sec: Mrs J. Tierney 75 Barrack road

Fulham Co-op Room 245 Dawes Road Sec Alf Blackburn 7 Disbrowe Rd

South Norwood


Plaistow J. Kebbell ILP Hut Cumberland Road

Woolwich (closed around 1930)

Tottenham A.H. Nancy

Dagenham A.E Brant

South West Ham Established 1898
Barking Labour Hall Ripple Road - Sec Miss Rhoda Bradford 28 Keith Road, Grays

London SSS Summer camp held at Keston (Kent)

South West Ham camp was for two weeks at Hainault forest

Willesden SSS could boast up to 100 members in attendance at its SSS meetings at one point in its history

Crystal Palace Socialist Sunday School met in the old Clarion Club ? and was linked to Penge and Beckenham Socialist Society of which Patman of the builders union (his daughter Rosa Patman was secretary of South London Socialist Sunday School union/federation but died December 29th 1929 aged 28)

October 20th 1930 was a red letter day at Ealing SSS, three babies to be named and welcomed into our movement Saxon May Fairbain, Ivan Godier and Anthony Bishop
all presented with a beautiful certificate designed by F.J. Bourne

Fulham Socialist Sunday School SSS established in 1904evicted from using school premiss by the council. Alex Gossip Superintendent since Fulham SSS opened in 1904

1936 Fulham Jean and Brian Pollitt "named 26th April 1936

Fulham Socialist May Queen

Barking SSS established 1921

South West Ham established 1897

East Bradford established 1909 secretary in 1930 was H. Nichol, in 1930 had its own SSS Choir

(1935 )Bradford (East Bowling) meet ILP Rooms 29a Paley Terrace -  Sec Gladys Winterbottom 7 Prospect St, Cutler Heights

(1935) Bradford (Great Horton) Paternoster Lane Sec Mr E Stott 9 Galsworthy Ave, Chellow Grange

London sec 1935 Mr F.A. Rogers 9 Moss Road Dagenham

London Federation Camp Mr Jack Allam 92 Oban Road, Barking

Essex Federation Mr E. Kebbell 16 Greenwood Road, Plaistow

West London SSS Federation J. Tierney 75 Barrack Road, Hounslow

Bradford Secretary Mr L. Hammond 370 Moorside Road, Fagley

Leeds Mr F Stork 182 Dewsbury Road

Ayshire Mr R. Crawford 15 Aird Ave, Ellis Park Kilmarnock

Edinburgh Miss J Fisher 6 Boswall Parkway Wardie

Lanarkshire James Hynd 21 Hyndford St Douglas Water by Lanark

National Press Secretary Mr J. Simmons 41 Salisbury Road, Davyhulme

National Hon President Mrs Clarice McNab Shaw 1 Portland Terrace Troon Ayrshire

National secretary Mr D.D. Hopkinson 8 Springwood Avenue, Shipley Yorksire

International secretary Miss Nancie Dean, 45 Chaplin Road, Cricklewood

Young Socialist education Bureau Mr G Malton 300 Moorside Eccleshill, Bradford

Dramatic and Ents Bureau Cllr Ada Wilson 50 Chapel House Nelson Lancs

National Needlecraft sec Miss L. Fogg 18 Bowman Terrace, Hanson Lane, Halifax

Ashington ILP (Independent Labour Party) Rooms Bolsover Street

Ayr ILP (Independent labour Party) Rooms 26 Sandgate
Barking Labour Hall

Sweedish SSS Unga ornar (Young Eagles also Sagostunder

Placing of the flag for which the assembly stood singing of the welcome song and singing. After the singing of England Arise and Lift up the peoples banner" other The Proletariat and the Internationale

The First Labour Party 1869 TUC/Labour Representation League

The Labour Representation League
(Left Alexander MacDonald (Stafford) - Right Thomas Burt (Morpeth)
It can be argued that The Labour Representation League is Britain’s first working class party. 
The LRL was essentially a product or off shoot of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and its main proponent was John Stuart Mill.
The Labour Representation League was established in 1869 and at the 1874 secured the election of Britain's first two Labour Members of Parliament (both miners union representatives) Alexander MacDonald (Stafford) and Thomas Burt (Morpeth)
 They were later joined by Henry Broadhurst MP for Stoke in 1880, at its peak the LRL could claim fifteen MP’s.
The LRL lacked direction and a coherent programme beyond that of securing the election of working class and trade union MP’s and was crippled by the trade union leader’s historic reluctance to break with the Liberal Party.
In 1893 the Labour Representation League ceased to exist as a separate organisation, many of its MP’s by this time having being integrated into the Liberal Party.
In August 1871 The Labour Representation League officers were
President: R. Marsden Latham
Treasurer: William Allen
Secretary: Lloyd Jones
The Labour Representation League headquarters were based at 21 Cockspur Street, London
100 years ago, in an inspiring and relevant even to day, call to arms, the Labour Representation League issued the following statement in August 1872
“We call on you to again engage in your old fight with men in power.
Gather yourselves together in every constituency. Disregard meaningless party cries and as a first necessary step for vindication of your claims, punish by exclusion from Parliament the men who by their political treachery, cowardice and vulgar worship of wealth have decreed that you shall not cause to have branded on you the degrading stigma of political inferiority”
On Britain's first Labour MP's elected in 1874
Alexander MacDonald  - Stafford (27 June 1821 – 31 October 1881) son of an agricultural worker from New Monkland, Lanarkshire, Scotland
Thomas Burt - Morpeth  (12th November 1837 - 12th  April 1922)  son of a miner from Murton Row in Northumberland

Parti Communiste Guadeloupeen

The Communiast Party of Guadeloupe has always been historically strong on the islands, it was founded in 1958 and has been historically one of the strongest parties on the islands. In the 1968 elections to the French National Assembly, the GCP received 37.3 percent of the vote; one of the three deputies elected from Guadeloupe in the French Parliament was a Communist. 

In 1971 the GCP occupied a significant role in ten of the 34 municipalities of Guadeloupe; it headed eight of them.

20th anniversary of murder of Irish Citizen Army leader James Connolly 1936

Irish Embassy in London - Irish Republicans attach a banner to the balcony on the anniversary of James Connolly's death 12th May 1936.

A Battle Hymn of the Irish Citizen Army (ICA) words by  Constance Markievicz.

The Russians Lost 27 Million Fighting Fascism - Prime Minister

How dare Tory Prime Minister David Cameron suggest in Russia, that it was the British (alone) who wiped the Nazi's from Europe.

When the Soviet union lost 27 million fighting the Nazi invaders.

Meanwhile, in the British administered Channel Islands, the good old British bobby and British bureaucrats handed every Jew on the Islands over to  the Germans where they were all transported to the concentration camps in Germany and Poland.

Resistance on Jersey as in the rest of Europe was primarily lead by the small Jeresy Communist Party lead by Norman Le Brocq.  A Resistance Movement that after the War far from being honoured was systematically written out of Jersey history and it's leaders victimised.

Remember Jersey was the only place in Europe that had the same Government before, during and after the War

Thursday, September 05, 2013

"A people's art is the genesis of their freedom" Claudia Jones - Notting Hill 1959

Claudia Jones  the great community organiser and committed trade unionist stated at the launch of the first Notting Hill Carnival on 30th January 1959 that

"A people's art is the genesis of their freedom"

The first British Caribbean carnival was held at St Pancras Town Hall as an act of defiance, to local fascists who encouraged by Osward Mosley and local Teddy boy thugs had launched a wave of violent attacks upon the black community in Notting Hill area of west London, culminating in the racist Notting Hill riots and later the murder by a white racist gang of a 32 year old  Antiguan carpenter, Kelso Cochrane in Golborne Roard, NW10.

The first carnival included many cultural acts including Calypso singers, dancing, Cleo Laine (with Mike McKenzie) and the Trinidad Hummingbirds Steel Band.

At the 1960 carnival steel bands included, Russ Henderson Trinidadian Steel Band and The Tropican's Steel band.

New Paddington RMT (formally National Union of Railwaymen) banner first public outing Burston School Strike Rally (Diss, Norfolk) 1st September 2013 - includes representation of Claudia Jones (Left bottom corner)

The Tropicans' Steel band playing at the YCL London Festival of Socialism December 1957, The national Festival of Socialism was held Witsun 1958

Never Forget: Conservative Party poster London 1964 (note cannot even spell Burdened)

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

We Shall Overcome - 1963

Burston School Strike - Southall National Union of Railwaymen

A brick commemorating a donation to the Burston School strike school in Burston, nr Diss, Norfolk from Southall National Union of  Railwaymen (NUR) 1917 (NUR now RMT union)

Other branches of the NUR with commemorative bricks at Burston include

Twickenham NUR
Tottenham NUR
Shepherds Bush NUR
Paddington NUR
West Ham NUR
Crewe NUR
Ipswich NUR
Kings Cross NUR
Poplar NUR
Bridgewater NUR

Daily Herald 1930 - Will You Do this Great Thing For Labour

click to enlarge

"Will you do this great thing for Labour".....
"I think you will !"

Ernest Bevin

This statement and pictures relate to the relaunch of the Daily Herald on 17th March 1930.
As part of the relaunch the TUC agreed to hand over 51% of shares to Odhams, but kept the remaining 49%
The  relaunch was a huge success as it built on the Labour Party supporters network "Daily Herald Helpers" who encouraged working people to buy the paper, which continued to push a primarily Labour party line. By 1933 the Daily Herald became the world's best-selling daily newspaper, with certified net sales of 2 million.

Daily Herald 1930 Relaunch - Labour Women

Susan Lawerence MP
Ellen Wilkinson MP
Marion Philips MP
Cynthia Mosley MP
Margaret Bondfield MP
Ethel Bentham MP
Jenny Lee MP
Mary Hamilton MP
E Picton Turbervill MP

Julia Varley (Nat Fed Women Workers)
Barbara Ayrton Gould (Suffragette & later Labour MP for Hendon)
Miss Anne Loughlin (Nat Union of Tailors & Garment Workers)
J. L. Adamson ?

This statement and pictures relate to the relaunch of the Daily Herald on 17th March 1930.

As part of the relaunch the TUC agreed to hand over 51% of shares to Odhams, but kept the remaining 49%

The  relaunch was a huge success as it built on the Labour Party supporters network "Daily Herald Helpers" who encouraged working people to buy the paper, which continued to push a primarily Labour party line. By 1933 the Daily Herald became the world's best-selling daily newspaper, with certified net sales of 2 million.