Sunday, November 03, 2013

Lyn Brown MP Commemorates the Match Women Strike of 1888




Great speech by West Ham MP Lyn Brown on this famous strike and her family connections with the East End, the strike and trade unions.  Important recognition by Lyn that this strike was organised by working class women and not wealthy middle class radicals.  I have worked within walking distance of the factory for the past 20 years and use to manage the housing estate Annie Besant Crescent. The reasons for this 125 year old strike is remarkable modern - low pay, health & safety, insecure employment, corruption and victimisation.

"Lyn Brown MP sponsored a debate in Westminster Hall to ask for further Government recognition of the Match Women's strike of 1888. 1,400, mainly women workers at the Bryant and May factory in the Bow area of East London went on strike to protest against poor working conditions in the match factory, including fourteen-hour work days, poor pay, excessive fines and the severe health complications of working with white phosphorus.

Modern research by the historian Louise Raw has proved that the strike was instigated, organised and led independently by the match women themselves and then supported by others. The match women's strike in 1888 led directly to the Great Dock Strike of 1889 in the same part of London and, therefore, set in train the historic events from which the Labour Party was created in 1900.

The match women's victory was also an inspiration to the Suffragette movement and for all those campaigning for equality today.
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