Thursday, 26 March 2015

High-tech trade union banner commemorates historic sacrifices

Keeping the fight alive

High-tech trade union banner commemorates historic sacrifices
Mark Metcalf, Thursday, March 26th, 2015 
Taken from 

The growing connection between Unite’s community and industrial members saw the unveiling of the world’s first dual-purpose trade union banner by the Derby Unite Community branch last week (March 19).

Historical images of a Derby strike pre-dating the Tolpuddle Martyrs have been combined with a 21st century communication Quick Response (QR) code. When scanned by a mobile phone this leads people to a website which will encourage them to get involved by informing them of the nature of the protest.

Anyone scanning last week on the Unite National Day of Action against Benefits Sanctions was taken to Unite Community’s website detailing the day of action.

Many thanks to Mark Harvey for the use of this copyrighted photograph. 

The cost of the banner has largely been paid for by the Rolls-Royce manufacturing branch of Unite. It has been designed by local Unite community member Jim Griffiths and beautifully created by Ed Hall, Britain’s leading manufacturer of marching banners for trade unions and other campaign groups.

The banner states We Honour the Derby Silk Workers 1833-34 and will be carried on the annual commemorative march organised each weekend before May Day by the Derby Trades Union Council.

Honouring the sacrifices made by early trade unionists, the banner pays tribute to a moment in history when up to 2,000 Derby silk workers left work in November 1833 to June 1834. Following the repeal of the Combination Acts in 1824, the Grand National Consolidated Trade Union, in which Robert Owen was prominent, was established with an important branch in Derby that included weavers, iron workers, builders and silk thrusters.

When silk manufacturer, Mr Frost, discharged one of his employees, his fellow workmates walked out in support. Within a week 800 people, in a town of 24,000, were affected. When many local employers then declared they would not employ trade unionists, another 500 walked out and by February the numbers had leaped to 2,000. Attempts to persuade strike-breakers imported from London led to many strikers being imprisoned.

The strike continued for many months but eventually collapsed as starvation set in. Many strikers were subsequently victimised and never worked in their trade again. Nevertheless, in late 1834, the Dorchester Agricultural Labourers at Tolpuddle took up the struggle for trade unions, which only exist today because of the sacrifices made by the likes of the Derby silk workers, Tolpuddle Martyrs and London Dockers of 1889.

Many thanks to Mark Harvey for the use of this copyrighted photograph.

Helping to unveil the banner, Paul Bickerton, who in addition to being an elected workplace rep is treasurer of the local Rolls-Royce Unite branch, said:

“Our members back the local Unite Community branch that is doing great work in defending the welfare state and helping prevent a split between those in and out of work. I’m keen to see the banner on the annual march, which rightly keeps alive the silk worker’s fight, and pleased to know Unite is leading the way in modern up-to-date methods of communicating with the public.”

“We would like to thank Rolls Royce Unite members for their financial support and look forward to working closely with them in the future in opposing austerity,” said Derby Unite Community branch chair Cecilia Wright.

Politics and unions

Tune in to Bradford Community Radio at

Go to Listen Again for the 3-4pm show today (Thursday 26 March) and there's lots on Julia Varley,
trade unions, football, Unite education, women's rights and all things politics.......

Friday, 20 March 2015

£1,600 already raised to commemorate first publicly recognised domestic violence victim

More on Ellen Strange for an event on 29 November that may turn out to be quite special...

Ellen Strange commemoration date will be 29 November 2015

Trade unionists and domestic violence campaigners in the North west will hold a special event at 11am on Sunday 29 November 2015 at what is thought to be the oldest site in the world to commemorate a victim of domestic violence. (*) The date was chosen because it comes within the Domestic Violence Awareness Fortnight and is also close to 25 November, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. There will be a wreath laying ceremony and some speakers followed by a social occasion in a local venue afterwards. 
A facebook page has been set up on which we will post further details as they are finalised
The cairn on Holcombe Moor near Ramsbottom, Bury is around 400 yards from a nearby footpath. It is not accessible for anyone in a wheelchair or anyone with very limited mobility.
Meanwhile, John Simpson has agreed to rewrite his 1989 booklet on Ellen Strange and this will be re-launched on or around 29 November. Funds are going to be needed to pay for the booklet and the events on 29 November and so far around £1600 has already been raised from contributions from Unite North West region, Unite Bolton branch and Bolton Trades Council. Bolton Trades Union Council has agreed that its bank account can be used for cheques payable to Bolton TUC.  BTUC, c/o Bolton Socialist Club, Wood Street, Bolton BL1 1DY.
Martin McMulkin
Secretary Bolton & District Trades Council

A true union daughter - Julia Varley

Fighting grotesque benefit sanctions on

Go to:-

All photographs below are copyright Mark Harvey.

Outside Chesterfield Job Centre.

Outside Chesterfield Job Centre. 

Slow death march through Chesterfield Town Centre market. 
Colin Hampton tells the public that anyone can become ill, disabled or redundant
and therefore might face benefit sanctions. 

Proud members of Derby Unite Community Branch along with
Rolls Royce Unite branch treasurer Paul Bickerton. 
The stall was well supported by the local public. 

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Bradford Industrial Museum reveals how unsafe mill work was.

Bradford Industrial Museum is sited in Moorside Mills that was built around 1875 as a small worsted-spinning mill by John Moore. 

Bradford Council bought the property in 1970 to create an innovative museum that opened in December 1974. It contains permanent displays of textile machines; steam power, engineering, printing machinery and motor vehicles. There is also a regular exhibitions programme. Mill-workers’ terraced houses and Moorside House where the mill manager lived can also be viewed. 

The experiences of these mill workers are charted in the display boards on the walls and you can get a real feel for just how dangerous the jobs they did were. 

Entry is free and donations are welcome. 

Address: Moorside Mills, Moorside Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire BD2 3HP
Open: Monday to Sunday. 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Orgreave inquiry: yes or no?

The organiser of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign is “alarmed” that the Independent Police Complaints Commission will not indicate whether it will conduct a full investigation into events outside the Orgreave coking works during the Miners Strike in 1984.
Orgreave, near Rotherham, is one of the most contentious issues in the year-long dispute between members of the National Union of Mineworkers and Margaret Thatcher’s government. From late May, an attempt to prevent the movement of coal into the plant and coke coming out was mounted by pickets who were met by police forces from across Britain.
On 18 June that year, 4,500 police, many in riot gear, met 8,000 striking miners. In the clashes that followed 95 miners were charged with riot and unlawful assembly. But the trial of the first 15 in 1985 collapsed due to the unreliability of police evidence.
Each prosecution was backed by two officers making near identical statements.
All subsequent charges were dropped and South Yorkshire Police (SYP) paid out £425,000 in out of court settlements.
But no new investigation was ordered and no officer was disciplined in what Michael Mansfield QC, who represented three miners, said was “the biggest frame-up ever”.
Police misconduct
Since 2012, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has been running an initial investigation. Following a November 2014 meeting with IPCC chair Dame Anne Owers the OTJC was anticipating an IPCC announcement early this year on whether or not it would be holding a full investigation.
However, the IPCC has now indicated that it will not make an announcement until
it has taken legal advice and consulted with its Hillsborough investigation team, which is examining events at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final in which 95 Liverpool fans died. SYP doctored the statements of officers at Hillsborough and is now at the centre of the IPCC’s biggest investigation ever into alleged police misconduct.
Strike action
The IPCC has agreed to give advance notice of the decision to the OTJC so it can organise a press conference the next day. But although it has made its decision, it has yet to inform the OTJC what it is – an omission that has “alarmed” OTJC organiser Barbara Jackson.
“Following the November meeting we did not believe there might be any problems holding up the announcement for any considerable time,” said Jackson, who herself took strike action in 1984-85 as an administrative officer for the National Coal Board. “It has already taken over two years for a scoping exercise. Meanwhile the miners who were so badly treated are older and frailer.
“We intend making Orgreave an issue at the forthcoming general election and now
fear that no announcement might be made until after the Hillsborough inquests have concluded – and that might be another year or more.
Legal advice
“We want the IPCC to make an announcement very shortly even if it means we must wait until after the Hillsborough inquests hearings that started on 31 March 2014 are concluded.”

An IPCC spokesperson said: “We are awaiting the result of our consultation with our Hillsborough investigation team and legal advice from our barrister before we can proceed further. We appreciate the concerns about the delays, but we cannot comment further at this stage.”