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  Issue No 52 Official Organ of LaborNet 05 May 2000  




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The Manchester Movement

By Micheal Herbert

Manchester, in Asa Briggs memorable phrase, was the shock city of the early nineteenth century, a small and obscure market town that in a matter of a few years had become a huge city.


The North West Labour History Group was formed in the early 1970s, originally as an off-shoot of the National Society for the Study of Labour History, although that connection has ceased over the years. Our aim has been to popularise and promote the knowledge and study of labour history in this area of England ie Lancashire, the area where the Industrial Revolution began in the late eighteenth century and which saw the emergence of the world's first industrial working class.

Manchester, in Asa Briggs memorable phrase, was the shock city of the early nineteenth century, a small and obscure market town that in a matter of a few years had become a huge city, the centre of a vast system of cotton manufacture, trading and export which stretched for miles around.

Manchester evolved into a commercial and banking centre but elsewhere in the region whole towns were given over to the spinning and weaving of cotton. On the coast sits

Liverpool whose merchants made vast fortunes out of slavery and when that was finally outlawed moved on to other lucrative imports and exports.

In the wake of the Industrial Revolution followed political and social radicalism as the working class began to flex its muscles to the dismay of the ruling class. Trade unionism, Chartism, Votes for Women, the fight against the Poor Law, the struggle for factory reform, the campaign for a free press, the co-operative movement, the emergence of socialism, the formation of the Labour Party, Syndicalism, Communism, the Miners' strikes of the 1970s and 1980s, the Women's Liberation movement, the campaign against nuclear power - all of these movements either had their origins in our area or were strongly supported here.

Thus we have no shortage of labour history here to tell people about! Our group has always been a broad church, involving academics, trade unionists and others who believe that it is vital that the present day labour movement knows its own history. We have a very strong connection with the Working Class Movement Library, founded by Ruth and Edmund Frow in their own home in the 1950s which evolved into a huge archive of the history of the Brittish and Irish labour movement, now housed in its own dedicated building in Salford.

We produce an annual bulletin called the North West Labour History Journal which consists of news, articles, essays and other material. Our primary focus is naturally the history of our own area but we welcome news of the activities of comardes from other parts of the world.

We also try to hold regular conferences with speakers and discussion. At one time we held two conferences each year but this has dwindled in recent years to one each year and we now try to hold them in comjunction with another body eg we recently took part in a conference on the history of the Labour Party 1900-2000.

We have tried to take a fresh look at issues eg we have run sessions on football and a memorable conference on politics and music at the height of the Manchester movement in the late 80s in which an audience which was mainly over 50s sat through loud music videos and then discussed with a young music journalist why young people had no interest in left politics.

We have also tried to connect our activities with some important struggles in the labour movement. We ran a day conference on the history of the miners during the 1984/85 Miners Strike, we ran a similar conference on the history of dockers in Liverpool during the Liverpool Dockers dispute and have reported on the dockers struggle and current initiatives in our Journal.For the past decades the labour movement has suffered defeat after defeat yet we have managed to keep our group going and continued our work.

We would be pleased to welcome visitors from Australia to the North West and show them round. Contact Michael Herbert, mailto:[email protected].

We would also welcome contributions to our journal. Write to us: - North West Labour History Group, c/o working Class Movement Library, 51 Crescent SALFORD M5. Finally take alook at the WCML website:-

Michael Herbert works in local government and is a trade union representative in the Transport and General Workers Union. He is an active member of the North West Labour History Group and a trustee of the Working Class Movement Library. He has written about the history of black people in Manchester and is currently working on a history of the Irish in Manchester.



The Ontario Workers Arts and Heritage Centre (OWAHC) is creating an exhibition on service workers in Canada. Entitled, "Can I Help You? Canadian Workers At Your Service," the exhibition will run from January 2001 until the end of November 2001.

To complement this major exhibition, OWAHC and the Labour Studies Program at McMaster University, are co-sponsoring a series of symposia and a conference on Canadian service workers with themes that parallel those of the exhibition. The conference is scheduled for Friday, April 14 to Sunday, April 16, 2001. Three half day symposiums will take place apart from the conference, with one being Saturday, March 3, 2001, and one each in October and November.

This notice is a call for papers and participants for the conference and the symposia. We are interested in two kinds of contributions: those will add to our analytical understanding of the evolution and future directions of service work in Canada, and, those that add to our understandings of the current dynamics of service work in Canada. We hope, in short, to bring theory and practice together in each session.

Listed below are the session headings and suggested topics (these are far from exhaustive) for the conference and the symposia. If you are interested in either presenting a paper, or in participating in a session as a representative of an organization active in service work, e.g. union organizer, advocate of domestic workers, etc.. In your reply, please include either an abstract of a paper you would like to present, or a short summary of how you would like to participate in either the conference or one of the symposiums.

Please include a brief CV or resume or biographical note.

Please send your submissions by September 30, 2000 to:

Robert Storey, Labour Studies & Sociology

McMaster University,Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4M4

Email: [email protected]

(Please note: If you reply by email, indicate that you message

concerns the conference or symposia by placing CIHY-CONF in the

subject area.)






Conference: Friday, April 14, 2001

* SERVICE WORKERS IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY Topics: description/analysis of service work in Canada

* BEHIND THE SMILE: YOUNG & IMMIGRANT WORKERS AT YOUR SERVICE" Topics: re-emergence of child/youth labour via service work

health & safety conditions of service work in these areas

* IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST" Topics: federal/provincial government workers, postal workers, educational workers, welfare workers


Topics: overview of changes in health care delivery systems hospital restructuring and impact on nurses forms of home care

Saturday, April 15

* COMMERCIAL SERVICES: SELLING YOU, SELLING THEMSELVES: Topics: temporary workers sales clerks (from the Bay to Starbucks),waiters/waitresses,fast food workers, tourist workers

Sunday, April 16


Topics: home care workers, janitors, domestic workers, university staff

* PLENARY: SERVICE WORK, SERVICE WORKERS IN THE 21st CENTURY" Topics: reports from each session, general discussion about what is happening and what is to be done.


Waterfront Makes History

The ACTU and the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History are compiling an archive of material relating to the 1998 MUA Dispute.

The dispute was a critical moment in the history of the Australian labour movement and the Archive is attempting to draw together material held by unions, organisations and most importantly participants and supporters.

If you have access to or know the whereabouts of any material relating to the dispute contact Sean Butler at VTHC mailto:[email protected]

We're interested in any or all material ranging from newspapers to stickers, letters to T-shirts and photographs and film as well.

Even if the material can't be sent to the Archive we would like to record its location for the reference of future research.


*    Contact our History Editor Dr Lucy Taksa

*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 52 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: War Stories from the Shakey Isles
After being flat-earthed, New Zealand unions are making a comeback under a new progressive government. Darien Fenton is at the forefront of the resurgence.
*  Unions: Laying It On the Line
A complex international legal web underpins a long-running South Coast picket.
*  International: Alive and Kicking
Those representing right wing political forces and strategists for multi-national corporations would be disappointed by the success of the recently concluded Congress of the WFTU in Delhi.
*  Economics: Fair Trade not Free Trade
The successful MAI and Seattle campaigns have sparked a new debate about the role of the World Trade Organization.
*  History: The Manchester Movement
Manchester, in Asa Briggs memorable phrase, was the shock city of the early nineteenth century, a small and obscure market town that in a matter of a few years had become a huge city.
*  Satire: Passing the Buck
Government report tells bosses how to lie and pass the buck: Reith blames Kemp
*  Review: A Book to Set the Left Right
The Australian Finacial Review's Stephen Long gives his verdict on 'Tales from the new Shop Floor'.

»  Conference Showdown Looms Over Stellar
»  Olympics Pay Fight Hots Up
»  Victims Compo Win for Workers
»  Living Wage to Flow Through Fast
»  Women Part-Timers Fight ANZ
»  Clemo Fights for Wage Justice
»  Community Workers Vote to Strike
»  New Report: TV Casting Discriminatory
»  Call for ACCC Prosecutions Over Japan Coal
»  Sydney Support for Korean Workers and Arrested Officials
»  Maternity Protection Goes Global
»  Ten Years Hard Labor for Shaw
»  Sydney CD's Head For Dili
»  May One - Ground Zero

»  The Soapbox
»  The Locker Room
»  Trades Hall
»  Tool Shed

Letters to the editor
»  Negotiation - Reith Style
»  Propaganda or News?
»  A Recipe for Modern Unionism
»  Disappointed by May Day Coverage
»  Politics in the Pub

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