The Women's Self Organised Group
The Women's Self Organised Group has not been meeting regularly
and urgently needs more women to get involved and get the group
back to its key role in the branch.
We discuss issues of direct concern to women in the Branch, such
as cuts in jobs and services, low pay, equal rights for part-time
workers, how to make meetings more "member friendly" how
to get more women directly involved in the Branch etc.
We also discuss issues of wider concern such as the recent Liverpool
Dockers Strike and the campaign by Women on the Waterfront, the
recent cuts in benefits to lone parents and people with disabilities
and so on.
We are aiming through the meetings to support each other as women,
to gain confidence to raise issues within the Branch, to campaign
to improve things for women both within the branch, the Council
and wider society and to support political struggles on issues which
we believe are important.
We welcome any women members who wishes to come and join us. If
your are interested in being on the mailing list, let us know (contact
Irene Stout, Equalities Officer, on 0131 558 7488 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Songs of Struggle - Songs of Freedom, your chance to join
Socialist Choir for Women
A Socialist choir for women in Edinburgh is starting soon. Women
workers, trade unionists, unemployed women, mothers, grannies -
all women welcome. Come and sing your heart out and have fun!!
Contact Eileen Penman 0131 556 1029
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Seventy Years Ago..............
On the 3 June 1928, after nearly a century of dedicated struggle
and sacrifice, women in the UK were given the right to vote on the
same terms as men. Only women over thirty were eligible to vote
for the ten years prior to this, under the Representation of the
People Act, passed in 1918. Scottish suffragettes were at the forefront
of the struggle for the vote.
Women in Scotland were fighting then, just as they are fighting
today, for equality and an end to sexism and discrimination. These
days women may not be force-fed in prison for the crime of campaigning
against their oppression, as the suffragettes were, but they are
having a hard time battling to ensure that the Scottish Parliament
will be based on gender balance. How many times have you heard the
argument MPs should be elected on merit? If that were the case then
surely women would outnumber men in Parliament now. Parliament has
been dominated by men for ever, many of whom would not be there
if getting elected was decided on merit.
Lord Irving of Lairg, the Lord Chancellor (what does that mean,
any way?) has been given massive powers by his pal Tony Blair who,
by the way, did his legal training in Irvine's chambers. This
Lord's not even elected (how's that for merit) and he
has the nerve to block plans to ensure as many women as men are
elected to the new Scottish Parliament. The suffragettes must be
birlin' in their graves. Here we are at the turning of the
20th century and women are still at the mercy of powerful men to
have what should be ours by right. I say women need to tell all
remaining dinosaurs to "get stuffed" and take what is
rightfully ours - a big helping of power!
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MAY DAY - REMEMBER THE HAYMARKET MARTYRS
May Day is a fading shadow of what it once was. The roots of May
Day seem to be forgotten. It has long been forgotten why workers
chose 1st May to be a holiday and marched.
In 1886 in Chicago, USA the movement for an 8 hour day was grown.
On 1 May, the American Federation of Labour called for nationwide
strikes wherever the 8-hour day was refused.
On 1 May 1886 350,000 American workers in 11,562 workplaces went
on strike. The biggest strikes being in Chicago - 45,000 workers
withdrew their labour. Every railroad in Chicago stopped, most of
the industries in Chicago were paralysed. The stockyards were closed.
By 4 May the strike had spread throughout Chicago. A meeting was
called at Haymarket Square, 3000 people assembled. The crowd was
quiet and the weather was stormy. The crowd dwindled to a few hundred.
Police asked the crowd to disperse when a bomb exploded. 66 policemen
were wounded of whom 7 died later. The police fired into the crowd
killing several people, wounding 200.
8 trade union leaders were arrested and charged with incitement
to murder. None had been at Haymarket except one who was addressing
the crowd. The evidence against them was their ideas and their literature.
A jury found them guilty and sentenced them to death.
Meetings took place in France, Holland, Russia, Italy and Spain.
In London a meeting organised by William Morris and George Bernard
Shaw demanded an appeal.
A year later 4 were executed, Albert Parsons - a printer; August
Spiers - an upholsterer; Adolph Fischer and George Engel were hanged.
Louis Lingg a 21-year-old carpenter killed himself. Three remained
It has never been discovered who did throw the bomb, however, it
is generally considered that it was thrown by an agent provocateur,
hired to throw the bomb in order to arrest hundreds and destroy
the revolutionary leadership.
1st May was chosen to remember the Haymarket martyrs and the workers
murdered for their beliefs.
For decades the trade union movement celebrated May Day, even being
arrested for doing so.
Today, when trade unions are tied by anti-trade union legislation,
unemployed are forced to work for benefits. An eight hour day and
a decent minimum wage is still a dream for many. The Labour and
trade union movement have denied May Day, denying their roots. However,
trade unionists and socialists amongst us still celebrate the traditions
of May Day and remember the Haymarket Martyrs and the workers who
died on 4th May 1886 at Haymarket Square, Chicago.
(Catriona Grant, Social Work Shop Steward )
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