NEWS • VIEWS • INFORMATION • ADVICE
DURHAM MINERS’ GALA
The NASUWT joined trade unionists from across the union movement in marking the annual Durham Miners’ Gala.
Held on the second Saturday of July, the Gala attracts thousands of trade unionists and members of mining communities to the north east to celebrate the ethos and spirit of the workers’ movement.
NASUWT President John Rimmer and Senior Vice-President Paula Roe represented the Union at the event.
The NASUWT banner joined dozens of others in the traditional parade through the streets of Durham to the racecourse where a rally was held.
2011 marks the 127th Miners’ Gala, which celebrates and remembers the struggles of mine workers, particularly the famous miners’ strike of 1984-5.
PROTEST AGAINST CHAINMAKERS’ FESTIVAL DECISION
One of the landmark events in the trade union calendar, the Chainmakers’ Festival, which celebrates the courageous stand taken by a group of women trade unionists to fight for the right to a fair wage, has been banned by the Black Country Living Museum.
In recent years the Festival has been held at the museum, but it has been decided that the museum is no longer prepared to allow the event to continue there, on the grounds that it is ‘too political’. The museum reportedly alleged that attendees at last year’s event were demonstrating about the cuts to public spending.
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, wrote to the museum protesting about the decision. She said: “The NASUWT is shocked and saddened at the decision of the Museum Trust. The festival celebrates a historic local struggle, which by its very nature was political, marking as it did the struggle of working women. It should be no surprise therefore that unions will highlight current union issues and campaigns at the event.”
Ms Keates urged the trustees of the Museum to reconsider their decision, stating that it was an ‘insult’ to the thousands of trade unionists that have supported the museum in the past.
The 101st Chainmakers’ Festival will now be held at Bearmore Park in Cradley Heath, West Midlands on Saturday September 17, moving it back to the heart of the chainmaking industry and to where the festival was staged prior to its move to the museum.
The event is the largest celebration of women’s history in Britain and will feature a march from Bearmore Park along Cradley High Street to the Mary Macarthur Memorial Gardens, before returning to the Park. Mary Macarthur led the chainmakers in their 10-week strike for a fair wage.
The NASUWT will be attending the event and taking part in the traditional trade union banner parade.
The challenge to the Chainmakers’ Festival follows attempts by the Coalition Government to scrap the May Day bank holiday, described as a ‘socialists’ holiday’ by some Conservative back benchers.
The Government is currently consulting on plans to move the May Day bank holiday to either later in the year or to St George’s Day in England and St David’s Day in Wales.
May Day has been celebrated in Britain since at least 365AD and also marks International Workers’ Day; a seeming bone of contention for some Conservative ministers.
The NASUWT believes the calls to move the bank holiday are of a piece with the Coalition Government’s contempt for trade unions and working people.
The NASUWT is supporting the TUC’s call for May Day to be retained and for a Community Day bank holiday in late October, which would celebrate and encourage volunteering and community work.
More information on the campaign can be found at www.communityday.org.uk
Women’s History Month
Women’s History Month is held each March to celebrate the achievements and contributions made by women to wider society.
Organisers are seeking lesson plans, ideas and classroom activities from teachers to add to the Women’s History Month website, with the aim of creating a collection of teaching resources for schools to educate pupils about women’s history and inspire the next generation.
More information about Women’s History Month can be found at www.womenshistorymonth.org.uk and the Women’s History Month team can be contacted with ideas for teaching resources at firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit the NASUWT’s webpage for women members at www.nasuwt.org.uk/WomenTeachers