Eric Hobsbawm (1917-2012)

Historian Eric Hobsbawm has died. We send our condolences to his family and friends, but Hobsbawm was a political figure — he deserves to be judged and commented on politically.

'Comrades' film showing plus discussion

22 July, 2012 - 15:00 - 18:00

New Cross, south London


Facebook event
Article on the Tolpuddle martyrs' struggle

How did our trade union movement begin? South London Workers' Liberty is organising a showing of "Comrades", a film by Bill Douglas about the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

In 1834 a group of Dorset agricultural workers attempted to form a trade union to prevent wage cuts. They were arrested, tried and "transported", ie deported as prisoners, to Australia. But they became popular heroes and 800,000 signatures were collected for their release and return as part of a mass campaign.

In many parts of the world today, workers face similar repression for organising trade unions. And while in Britain no one is arrested for joining a union, the anti-union laws mean that our labour movement is in reality only semi-legal. Are there lessons as well as inspiration to be drawn from the Tolpuddle story?

* All welcome. As well the film there will be discussion, food and drink and activities for children.

For more information and the venue ring 07904 944 771

Background notes on Marx's "18th Brumaire"

Timeline of events

Since 1830 France had been ruled by the Orleanist faction of the monarchy. It was more liberal than the Bourbons; but "it was not the French bourgeoisie as a whole which ruled but only one fraction of it - bankers, stock-market barons, railway barons, owners of coal and iron mines and forests, a section of landed proprietors... the so-called financial aristocracy" (Marx).

Workers' Liberty dayschool: New Unionism: how workers can fight back

18 February, 2012 - 11:30 - 17:30

Highgate Newtown Community Centre, 25 Bertram Street, London N19 5DQ (Archway tube)


Click here to download leaflet.

Registration: £15 waged, £8 low-waged/ student, £4 unwaged. To register online, click here, and enter the details of the amount you're paying and the registration you require when paying online.

In the late 1880s, workers (often unskilled or semi-skilled, often migrants and often working in casualised and precarious environments) organised militant industrial unions to fight back against their bosses. Socialist activists like Eleanor Marx, Tom Mann and Will Thorne were crucial to the struggles.

Faced with increasingly similar conditions today, can we build a New Unionism for the 21st century that transforms and revolutionises the modern labour movement?


11:30-11:45 – Registration

11:45-1:15 – Workshops

* How the socialists organised: the life and times of Tom Mann (Cathy Nugent and Charlie MacDonald)
* The movement for working-class self-education (Colin Waugh, further education activist, author of Plebs, the Lost Legacy of Independent Working-Class Education)
* Finding a political voice: from New Unionism to Labour representation (Martin Thomas and Sam Greenwood)
* Organising the unorganised: (Mick Duncan, Unite p.c; Ruth Cashman, Lambeth Unison p.c.)

1:15-2:00 – Lunch

2:00-4:00 – Workshops

* From the Matchworkers to the Chainmakers – how women organised (Jill Mountford and Louise Raw, author of Striking a Light, The Bryant and May Matchwomen and their Place in History)
* What came next – The Great Unrest 1911-1914 (Edd Mustill)
* Organising at work today: using the ‘Troublemakers’ Handbook’ (Kim Moody, founder of Labor Notes magazine, academic, author — most recently US Labor in Trouble and Transition — and activist)

4:00-4:15 – Break

4:15-5:30 – Closing plenary: New Unionism 2012? How can we reinvigorate the labour movement? Speakers include Eamonn Lynch (Bakerloo Line driver tube driver victimised for his union activity and reinstated following an RMT campaign), speaker from IWW London Cleaners' branch and Jean Lane (Workers' Liberty and Tower Hamlets Unison)

Tickets: £15 (waged), £8 (low-waged), £4 (unwaged)

Creche, cheap food and bookstalls

Poplar 1919-21: when a Labour council stood up and fought for the working class

11 November, 2010 - 19:00 - 21:00

The White Horse pub, Peckham Rye (ten minutes from Peckham Rye station)


Hosted by South London AWL.

In 1919, the residents of Poplar in East London elected a socialist Labour council - a council which did not just make left-wing speeches like those elected in the 1980s, but stood up and fought the Lib Dem-Tory coalition then in power. The councillors went to jail, but a mass movement eventually forced the government to fund the services the council had built.

As another Lib Dem-Tory coalition slashes public services, the question is: will Labour councils administer the cuts, or will they help trade unions and local communities fight back?

Speaker: Janine Booth, activist in the rail union RMT and author of the book Guilty and Proud of it, about the Poplar struggle.