Saturday, 7 May 2016

90th Anniversary of the General Strike in Swindon

To mark the 90th anniversary of the General Strike, Swindon Trades Council organised a day of history, protest, re-enactment and community at the Central Community Centre, Swindon. The high point of the event was a march around the Great Western railway village and park, symbolically carrying a coffin (as occurred in 1926) to represent the handful of scab railway staff who went to work in defiance of the strike. In a show of fraternity, John Partington attended on behalf of Reading Trades Union Council, sporting the new RTUC t-shirt!

The Day aimed to teach attendees a bit more about Swindon's radical past and the efforts of the Great Western Railway workers to fight for their rights and unite the community in solidarity and struggle.
The order of the day ran as follows:

12 noon: Meet at Central Community Centre for a march around the Railway Village in the spirit of the striking rail workers that came out en masse in 1926.

1pm - 3pm: Buffet, networking and talks from a number of great speakers, including the Secretary of South West TUC, Nigel Costley. Presentation of prizes to schools that have participated in our General Strike history prize award.

After 3pm: To the Glue Pot for those that would like a celebratory pint!

Dress code: Edwardian! (not obligatory, of course...)

Sunday, 1 May 2016

International Workers' Day in the Forbury Gardens

To mark International Workers’ Day, members of the Reading Trades Union Council and Reading International Brigades Memorial Committee arranged speeches and music at the monument to Reading’s volunteers in the Spanish Civil War, located in the Forbury Gardens, Reading.

Keith Jerrome, executive member of the Reading Trades Union Council, introduced the event, explaining the tradition of 1 May as workers’ day, when issues such as trade union rights, universal health care and anti-fascist struggle are celebrated and commemorated by workers around the world.

Keith was followed by an impassioned speech from Ray Parkes, co-author of We Cannot Park on Both Sides: Reading Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-39, who explained the role of Reading citizens who both fought fascism on the frontlines in Spain and also cared for fallen comrades through the provision of medical assistance during the conflict.

Nicky Jerrome, former Labour Councillor on Wokingham Borough Council, completed the event by leading all attendees in a rousing rendition of The Internationale, the anthem of world socialism.

In addition to local labour activists, a number of children joined in the event and it received an international dimension through attendance by a member of the socialist Podemos party, the third largest political grouping in the Spanish parliament.

Reading Chronicle, 5 May 2016, p.11