Monday, 20 June 2022

Orgreave Rally and March on Saturday 18th June in Sheffield

 The TUC march in London the same day may have resulted in a smaller attendance than would have been the case but there was still just over 300+ in Sheffield on Saturday.

                Joe Rollin of OTJC calls for everyone to support RMT this coming week 

There was a rally being held for refugees in the same assembly point as for the OTJC events and it was good to see that miners' with their banners were happy to be associated with those present. 

It was also good to hear Joe Rollin of OTJC call for everyone to join the RMT picket lines this week - starting Tuesday.

The short march was well received by shoppers and those enjoying a bite to eat and one or two even joined in.

There was a short rally at the end of the march and it was great to be able to applaud Eileen Turnbull and Terry Renshaw of the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign on their victory late last year.

I was able to hand out a  good number of Halifax 1842 leaflets for the 13th August special day plus quite a few of the Unite Educations booklets that I have written over the years.

It was great to meet again after so many years Rose of Trentham Pit Camp (1992/3) and to which I took a group of Kurdish women. I am certainly hoping to rekindle that friendship as she is a good lass is Rose.  

Eileen Turnbull of the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign 

My piece for a booklet on Bill May, a lifelong socialist

My friend Bill May died last year at aged 95. His son Martin, a great friend of mine, interviewed him in the years leading up to his death. Martin has also asked friends of his to write a few dedicated words on his dad for a booklet he's getting together. These are mine. 

I first met Bill and Marjorie May at the start of the century after I moved back to the North East and began making regular trips to Middlesbrough to watch football matches at the Riverside Stadium and meet up for a beer with my long term friend Martin, their son, who I have known since 1986.

On some of these occasions we were supporting rival teams in Boro v Sunderland but I also reported for The Morning Star on a number of high profile top flight Boro games plus matches in the famous 2005-06 season – by which time I was living in West Yorkshire - when Steve McLaren’s side made it through to the final of the Europa Cup. I can recall Bill being ecstatic when Boro managed to overcome a three goal deficit on aggregate in the semi-final to knock out Steaua Bucharest. 

Bill and Marjorie were always good company. Bill would great you with that great big smile of his and he was always interested in what you were doing. As he was a socialist like myself then he would ask me what I was doing to further the socialist cause and be especially delighted when I could tell him of some small victories. He would ask me what I was writing about and he’d take booklets I had written for Unite and the next time I saw him he’d make reference to some points I had made in them.

A couple of years ago I did an article for the Big Issue North magazine on council housing and Bill contributed enormously to this, recalling when he had come home from the Far East, where he had fought in WWII, getting married and him and Marjorie getting a much valued council house. It was a place to call home and to bring up a family. The pair later became house owners but Bill remained throughout his life a passionate supporter of public housing.

Myself and my son Charlie, aged 9 at the time, were fortunate to be able to attend Bill’s 90th birthday party and we had a great time. It was also wonderful to see so many people from different age groups, nationalities and backgrounds that were present. A sure sign that Bill was loved by so many people.

In 2021, Bill was good enough to appear in the UNITE Education booklet I wrote on Stanley Taggart, one of the heroes of the Battle of Stockton in 1933. The photograph that Mark Harvey took of Bill was taken at the Transporter Bridge and although he was clearly struggling to get around, but he nevertheless still had a broad smile and was keen to chat about football and politics. He was a special character was Bill.

Stanley Taggart booklet is at:-


Big Issue North article – December 2019

“It was really wonderful in 1951 to get a well looked after council home that we could turn into a comfortable place to raise a family,” says Bill May, aged 93. 

The Teessider had joined the Royal Navy in 1944 and saw action on the battleship HMS Nelson, the flagship in the British Far Eastern Fleet. 

After leaving the navy in 1951, Bill and his wife Marjorie privately rented a wooden bungalow. But they, like millions, wanted somewhere better. 

“We went to Hambleton Council offices and put our name on the housing list. Within weeks we received news that one of the houses newly built by the council was ours. We collected the keys and moved in. It had three bedrooms, a sitting room, radiators throughout, a kitchen and a garden. We were elated and felt very positive about the future as we now had a permanent place to call home,” says a smiling Bill, who remained a council tenant with Marjorie until 1986 when they bought a Harrogate flat. ……………………..

……… But Cunliffe, Daykin, Hedderwick and May remain united in wanting to see the end of Right to Buy and start a massive council house building programme. “The divide between people across society is growing worryingly large,” says May. “We must address a situation where many people are unable to afford decent housing. Council housing provided for my generation the bedrock of a good upbringing and it can do so again in the future.” 


Full article at:-

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Read the Sean McGovern - a trade union champion for disabled people book


Sean McGovern – a trade union champion for disabled people







The main tutorial room in the Unite National Education Centre in Birmingham is dedicated to Sean McGovern – that alone is testament to the high regard (and affection) with which our Union’s members held Sean McGovern.


And Sean was not, as you will discover in this excellent account of Sean’s life, only a great trade unionist, he was additionally a very successful campaigner for disabled peoples’ rights and a formidable political operator. Perhaps Sean’s most significant contribution was his ability to integrate different strands into coherent campaigning; and to do all that with integrity and courage.


Mark Metcalf brings to life the contrasting fortunes which impacted on Sean and the triumphs which Sean achieved. As with other women and men about whom we have written in this series of Unite booklets, Sean McGovern was a very effective leader; by definition he had tons of followers – I was one of them!


You’ll hear from other followers from a wide variety of organisations in this booklet. Such was the variety of activities, organisations campaign groups and individuals that he genuinely supported that the cover of this booklet ought to be a modernised version of a Pieter Bruegel the Elder landscape as there was so much going on simultaneously in Sean’s colourful life. For not only was Sean very well read (donating his extensive library to the union), he was a dedicated follower of fashion from his expensive footwear to his scarves and headgear.


As Sean McGovern (1957-2020) was a unique character it is entirely appropriate that this first ever booklet on a disabled trade unionist is about him. This work follows a very simple format in that it consists of Sean’s own words accompanied by interviews with some of his family and great friends. Thank you and congratulations to the author, Mark Metcalf, for crafting this booklet and bringing Sean to the attention of the next generation of activists. Sean is an inspiration.


In solidarity Jim Mowatt Unite the union

Events to commemorate Halifax 1842

1842 events 

 2nd of July between 1 and 2pm in Heptonstall Museum – New play set against the backdrop of a revolt by mill workers in 1842. 

 17th July – public meeting 11am at Calderdale Industrial Museum, speakers Catherine Howe, Matthew Roberts, Katrina Navickas, James Dean, Neil Pye – free but need to book 1st August – launch of Great Strike 1842 beer brewed by Eagles Crag Brewery 

 12th August – David Glover to speak at 2pm and 3.30pm at The Grayston Pub, next to Halifax Town Hall, on 1842 events Evening – Attila the Stockbroker at Grayston pub. 

 13th August 10am -11am Lister Lane Cemetery open to view the graves of 9 Chartists buried there including Benjamin Rushton 10.30am – unveiling of board to commemorate 9 Chartists buried in cemetery March from cemetery to town centre for 1842 plaque unveiling – a wreath will be laid en route to those who were guillotined at the Gibbet on Lister Lane Grayston Pub – music & social after the unveiling 

 September – special photo to be take of a re-enactment of the painting by Alfred Walter Bayes of the Chartist meeting at Basin Stones, Todmorden in 1842 

 Documentary film – filming will take place at many of these events as part of the making of a documentary on Halifax 1842. Other film locations will include moors on which the Chartists organised mass meetings across West Yorkshire in the period 1839-1846.

 It is also proposed to hold a brief meeting at the EP Thompson plaque. Date not yet decided.

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

The 2022 Ellen Strange commemoration event on Holcombe Moor to remember all domestic violence victims

The 2022 Ellen Strange commemoration event to remember all domestic violence victims On Holcombe Moor in Lancashire, the world's oldest domestic violence memorial site is inspiring the current generation of campaigners, and survivors of domestic violence, to raise awareness, garner support, and offer help to those in dire need. Sunday 10 July 10.30am meet at Emmanuel Holcombe Church BL8 4NB at 10.30am, bring boots as the Ellen Strange cairn is up on the moors around 45 minutes away Main speakers Jill Caldwell - Endeavour Domestic Abuse Services Chief Executive Gemma Aitchison – Yes Matters Sara Trayers - National Recruitment Officer - Townswomen's Guilds Martin McMulkin – Unite NW, Bolton Trades Council & councillor Details:- Martin McMulkin 07918 839327 Mark Metcalf 07392 852561 17-minute documentary film:- The annual Ellen Strange memorial event that Unite NW and the Endeavour Project in Bolton have promoted since 2015 is unique as it involves a fair old Sunday morning hike up to a pile of stones on a remote moor outside Ramsbottom, Lancashire. The desire of walkers though to highlight the ongoing need to organise against a crime that effects all parts of society has nevertheless never failed to dampen people’s enthusiasm to assemble at what is recognised as the oldest domestic violence (DV) commemoration site in the world. Ellen Strange was murdered by her husband, John Broadley, on Holcombe Moor on 26 January 1761 and following which her family and/or local people raised a pile of stones in her memory. This was called “Ellen Strange” on the first Ordnance Survey map in 1844-47. However, over time the true story became clouded in mystery until, in 1989, local author John Simpson published the results of his exhaustive research into events over 200 years earlier. The Unite Education Rebel Road project catalogues trade union and labour movement heroes who are publicly commemorated in the form of a plaque. When Bolton Trades Union Council were informed about the Ellen Strange story, they obtained the backing of the Unite NW regional committee. £2000 was raised to republish Simpson’s book. In 2015 an annual event to remember Ellen Strange and domestic violence victims in the previous 12 months was held at the cairn, which is around 45 minutes away from Emmanuel Holcombe Church. Each walker, which includes DV survivors, lays a stone and reads out the case studies of people killed because of domestic violence. It can be a tearful occasion. 38% of all violent crime is DV related. A wreath is laid and a two-minute period of silence is held. There is a blessing by a reader from Emanuel Church, Holcombe, where free and much needed refreshments are available on the walk’s return. Everyone who has attended over the years has felt it has been a worthwhile morning.

Fundamental to the fight: Women on the Waterfront


Fundamental to the fight: Women on the Waterfront

In 2020, members of Women on the Waterfront, the support group formed early in November 1995, recorded some of their memories of 1995-98 Liverpool Dockers strike 

It’s a fascinating listen.......