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.
Our story is set just after the first world war in Poplar, an east London borough with a population of 160,000 people crammed into the docklands in the bend of the River Thames (Poplar) and the area just north of it (Bow).
Britain’s anti-trade-union legislation makes it harder for unions to fight for the rights of disabled workers and disabled people more generally. How?
Limiting issues on which unions may lawfully take action
Legendary anti-slavery campaigner Frederick Douglass (pictured) once wrote that ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand’. He was spot on.
One hundred years ago, an arts movement was forming in a mainly-black district of New York City. Later known as the Harlem Renaissance, it was primarily cultural but also inescapably political. Literature, poetry, jazz, theatre, sculpture and more articulated the lives and demands of African-Americans no longer willing to be grateful that they were no longer enslaved.
O black and unknown bards of long ago.
How came your lips to touch the sacred fire?
How, in your darkness, did you come to know
The power and beauty of the minstrel’s lyre?
Who first from midst his bonds lifted his eyes?
Who first from out the still watch, lone and long.
Feeling the ancient faith of prophets rise
Within his dark-kept soul, burst into song?
James Weldon Johnson
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
Letter published in Solidarity 567:
The editorial of Solidarity 566 rightly called for a big expansion of public-sector jobs to tackle the Covid-related economic crisis, through both the creation of new jobs in existing public services and through nationalizing corporations that threaten job cuts.
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.