Alt Sheff

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"Hats Off to the Matchwomen"

Thu 17 Oct 2013, 6pm, Coffee Revolution, Sheffield University Union of Students, Western Bank S10 2TG

Louise Raw reveals how the modern movement for workers' rights began with the Matchwomen; 'East End Girls' who made history in 1888. On the 125th anniversary of the Matchwomen's victory, hear the true story of the wild and wonderful women who changed the world.Work at 'Bryant & May' meant management bullying, poverty wages, and appalling, toxic working conditions, with 'phossy jaw' from airborne phosphorus particles, which decayed the jawbone and caused an agonising death. The striking matchwomen colourfully paraded the streets of the East End, singing protest songs and telling their story. They marched to Parliament, impressing MPs with their courage, forcing better pay, safer conditions, and the right to form the largest all-women union in Britain. Yet history has denied them their victory for too long: the strike has either been ignored by historians or de-valued as 'just' an unimportant protest by illiterate 'slum lassies', who could not have possibly understood what they were doing, and were probably 'made' to do it by middle-class socialists. None of that is true. After several years of research and tracing their grandchildren, Louise Raw shows that the women in fact inspired tens of thousands of other groups of exploited workers to form their own new unions. The modern movement for workers' rights had begun, the matchwomen leading the way.Louise Raw is the author of 'Striking a Light: The Bryant and May Matchwomen and their Place in History'. A community event, free and open to everyone. Donations welcome.http://ladiyfestsheffield.wordpress.comIn association with Off the Shelf Festival

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