NELH usually focus on North East events and history, but Grunwick was a key moment in British Labour History. In 1976, six workers walked out of Grunwick Film Processing Laboratory in Willesden and ignited an historic two-year dispute which united thousands to demand better rights for poorly treated workers.
Two murals to commemorate the event have been unveiled in Willisden, the site of the dispute.
More information on the Grunwick Strike at the Grunwick 40 site.
Keith Armstrong has made a five minute video, ‘Thomas Spence in London’ (1750 -1814) which includes renditions of two of his polemics, ‘The Hive of Liberty’ and ‘Pigs Meat’, the latter including the delightful lines, ‘Pigs meat, pigs meat / We piss on the elite’.
Leanne Smith has been awarded the annual Sid Chaplin Memorial Prize for the best undergraduate dissertation on North East history. Leanne, who graduated from the University of Sunderland this summer with a First Class degree, chose as her subject a little known, almost forgotten aspect of social history.
Leanne’s dissertation, ‘The Struggle over Female Labour in the Durham Coalfield, 1914-1918’, has unearthed original research into how the Durham Mining Association (DMA) resisted pressure from colliery owners and the government to accept the introduction of female labour during the First World War.
“At the time it was claimed that the DMA’s refusal to employ women miners was based on concerns over the undercutting of wages,” say Leanne. “But in contrast two of the country’s largest labour concerns, The Amalgamated Society of Engineers and the Clyde Workers Committee, reacted very differently. They negotiated to protect men’s position and wages within their industry. They accepted women into their very traditional industry.”
“My research shows that the Durham Mining Association resisted reforms, because they believed it was necessary to continue the status quo. The DMA were a very conservative body, who believed that a sexual division of labour was essential to coal mining communities such as the Durham coalfield.”
“Women contributed not just domestically. It was women who built the Durham mining community, who held together the family unit and brought stability that made it possible for the coal mining industry to exist – and made equality impossible in the minds of the Durham Mining Association.”
The North East Labour History Society is pleased to announce that it has published transcripts of the personal memories of sixty people from the North East. You can find these on our website at: http://nelh.net/oral-history/
Do take a look and tell us what you think. If you have transcripts or notes from interviews with people who have been involved in the labour movement in the North East we would be delighted to provide space for them on our site ().