Labour and socialist historian Dorothy Thompson died on 29 January at the age of 87. She is best known for her large and tremendously important work on the 19th century Chartist movement.
Strikes and trade union history
“Workers Film and Video” is a new website which aims to bring together into a single site links to footage of key events in working-class history.
For as long as workers have been fighting for their rights there have been key women organising other women and fighting alongside men. We begin a series on these inspirational women, often hidden from history.
An indication of the regard in which Jayaben Desai was held was the fact that on a miserable December weekday morning over one hundred people turned out for her funeral. A good proportion were there to show their respect for the inspirational woman who came to represent the Grunwick strikers of 1976-1978.
As Ruskin students and their contacts amongst former students became aware of the drive by people in the Workers’ Educational Association and University Extension movement to take control of Ruskin, they began to organise themselves against it.
Achieving control of Ruskin College was central to the WEA/extension project. From the summer of 1907 onwards, its supporters threw themselves into open propaganda, behind-the-scenes lobbying and bureaucratic manoeuvring — all aimed at purging the college of whatever stood in their way.
Under the pressure of rising working-class self assertion across the country, the University extension movement accepted Albert Mansbridge’s scheme for tutorial classes and committed study (as opposed to more “popular” bigger lecture classes).
The Workers’ Educational Association was founded in the early 1900s by Albert Mansbridge.
In October 1908 students and former students at Ruskin College in Oxford founded the League of the “Plebs”. From 26 March to 6 April 1909 they took strike action in the college.
Marxists support, orient to, and give great importance to trade unions as basic organisations of the working class. But in most circumstances, in capitalist societies, trade unions are dominated by the better-off sections of the working class, and often follow a narrow sectionalist policy.