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Kells for Mayday Red Flag Festival 2019


It is important that the continuity of the long term intergenerational campaign for economic and social justice is remembered and celebrated says BWTUC.

A delegation of twelve trades unions members from Battersea and Wandsworth Trades Union Council are attending the Jim Connell Red Flag Mayday Festival being held in County Meath Ireland over the weekend 3rd/5th May 2019.

In 1889 in London County Meath born Jim Connell wrote the Red Flag song which became the anthem of the rapidly growing labour movement as it successfully fought for the political and industrial  emancipation of the working classes. Jim Connell was a contemporary of John Burns who set up BWTUC in 1894.

For Mayday in 1998 BWTUC alongside GMB London attended the unveiling of a new Jim Connell Red Flag monument in Crossakeil outside Kells which they had funded for the locally based Jim Connell Society. GMB London are involved as the song celebrates the victory of the newly unionised gas workers in winning the eight hour day in Becton East London in April 1889. From that victory sprung the GMB union.

Every year since then the Jim Connell Society has organised the Red Flag Festival over the Mayday weekend. Each year a delegation from BWTUC attend the festival which consists of seminars, lectures, panel discussions and social events covering all aspects of issues confronting the labour movement. The festival ends with a march  and rally with major speakers at the monument in Crossakeil on Sunday afternoon 5th May.

This year on the BWTUC delegation are Ian Henderson a Labour Councillor on Kensington and Chelsea Council. Ian is also a BWTUC delegate and leader of the successful campaign to save social housing on the  Sutton Estate in Chelsea where he lives from demolition and being replaced with luxury homes for sale. He is councillor in the ward next door to the Grenfell Tower where the terrible fire was nearly two years ago. Ian will speak on housing at the festival on Friday evening.

Another BWTUC delegate Leonie Cooper is also on the delegation. Leonie is an elected Labour Party councillor on Wandsworth Council as well as the elected member for Wandsworth and Merton on the Greater London Assembly. She serves as chair of the GLA environment committee. Leonie will speak at the Rally on Sunday afternoon on the challenges to the labour movement in transitioning to a low carbon economy over the coming decades.

Annie Pike, delegate from National Union of Journalists to BWTUC and it's long standing Vice President will once again lead the BWTUC delegation.

Annie Pike said " BWTUC are delighted to be back in County Meath at this 2019 edition of the Jim Connell Red Flag Mayday Festival.

It is important that the continuity of the long term intergenerational campaign for economic and social justice is remembered and celebrated.

We have at our disposal far more resources to face the  challenges of the future than did our late Victorian predecessors. Yet over this Mayday Red Flag Festival weekend let's reflects on how much our movement has achieved.  We have every reason to have hope that we can meet the challenges ahead.

BWTUC has had trading links in Ireland since 1992 when volunteers from our Workers Beer Company did the bars at the Semple stadium in Thurles for an early Trip to Tip.  Our direct political links with the Jim Connell Society in Meath date from a few years later.

We have maintained strong trading and political links since then. We look forward to festival for inspiration and renewed hope given the huge challenges ahead."


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