Relevance of the chainmakers today
THE world in 2015 is vastly different from the world of 1910. Nevertheless, the struggles of 1910 offer useful insights into the challenges that we face today.
- Women bearing the brunt
Women have suffered tremendously as a result of the recession and austerity. For example, women working part-time earn nearly 38 per cent less than men and women make up the majority of those paid less than the living wage.
The TUC publication The Impact on Women of Recession and Austerity is a timely reminder of why it is absolutely right that we focus upon securing greater equality for women in the workplace and society.
Pay was the root cause of the chainmakers’ dispute and it could not be a more important topic today.
The statistics are simply stunning. The average full-time employee wage has fallen in real terms by £2,430 since 2010.
Moreover, just under a quarter of all workers in the West Midlands earn less than the living wage, rising to over 30 per cent for women.
In 1910 it was said that the chain-making industry was too difficult to organise because it was so fragmented.
They said that the workforce was too apathetic. Sound familiar?
Many of these challenges present themselves today with the increasing casualisation of large parts of our economy.
But Macarthur was a “smart campaigner.” She built broad alliances and drove a wedge between employers.
She used the media imaginatively and organised mass meetings as a way of bringing women workers together.
As she said: “Women are unorganised because they are badly paid, and poorly paid because they are unorganised.”
Therefore, the Chainmakers’ Festival is rightly an important date in the movement’s calendar. A great family fun day out with music, theatre, comedy, kids’ activities as well as speeches and stalls.
And in the struggles we face today, the lessons of the chainmakers have never been more relevant as we organise and campaign to secure fairness, dignity and security for workers today.
by Lee Barron, Midlands TUC Secretary - reprinted from Morning Star article
The 2015 Women Chainmakers' festival
2015 official Chainmakers' festival FaceBook page https://www.facebook.com/events/850056408364386/
Cradley Heath High street was closed off on Sunday 12th July for the Chainmakers festival involving the Cradley Heath community and as part of the Black Country festival.
The festival celebrates the achievements of 800 women Chainmakers who fought to establish a minimum wage for their labour in 1910, following a 10 week strike. The local employers sought to deny them their rights but were met with forceful opposition. The strike was led by trade unionist Mary Macarthur, who founded the National Federation of Women Workers and later stood for Parliament as a Labour candidate.
The dramatic course of events as the women workers of Cradley Heath battled for a decent wage - full article here...
The event costs around £14,000 and the Midlands TUC is currently seeking donations for the 2015 event.
The TUC-organised event backed by Sandwell Council has live music, stalls, speeches.
How to get to Cradley Heath from Wolverhampton by train:
off-peak Day Return
leave Wolverhampton Rail Station, taking London Midland train towards Walsall
change at Smethwick Galton Bridge Rail Station
take London Midland train towards Kidderminster
arrive at Cradley Heath Rail Station see the jouney planner here....
All meetings to be held at 5.30pm at Old Hill Primary School, Lawrence Lane
- Next >>