Long before ‘Black Friday’ became the name for the first day of the Christmas shopping season, it was the name that the labour movement gave to the day on which trade union leaders inflicted a defeat on their own movement. It happened exactly one hundred years ago, on 15 April 1921.
Trade union history
After A Stone’s Throw Away by Paul Weller
News just in
of last year’s protests starting again in Chile
And hundreds of thousands massing in
the city streets for women’s rights in Poland
Burned-out squatters turning out in Johannesburg
Back before barring blacks became banned
Bristol buses blocked brown-skinned blokes becoming buscrew
But better Bristolians batted back
bit the bullet and boycotted the buses
Bent-backed, booted bipeds bicycled,
as bitter brushes blazed between bile and benevolence
Bands of brave, belligerent banner-bearers
branded the ban biased, barbarous balderdash
This story of colour bars in the UK railway and bus industries begins after the Second World War, when Britain had a labour shortage and people moved to Britain in increasing numbers from Caribbean countries and elsewhere.
NUR Opposes Racism
Speaking at an online meeting of rail workers in September, Janine Booth tells the story of the period after the end of the Second World War when black people came to Britain but met opposition from some white workers, until the 'colour bar' was defeated in 1966.
This article was published in RMT News, September 2020.
By Janine Booth, Chair of RMT National Disabled Members’ Advisory Committee
One hundred years ago, two hundred and fifty blind people from across the UK marched from Newport, Manchester and Leeds to London in protest at poverty and poor working conditions.
Janine's poetic turn at the 2020 online celebration ofthe 1911 Llanelli railway strike.
The last issue of RMT News contained a useful pull-out on the historic 1919 railway strike. It captured some of the excitement of the action and its success in beating back pay cuts. The strikers and their supporters are heroes of our history and deserve to be remembered and honoured.
As 1919 began, working-class people in Britain and many other countries looked forward to leaving the Great War behind them and rebuilding their lives.