Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Rain fails to put out Women Chainmakers’ fires

The tenth Women Chainmakers’ Festival took place in Bearmore Park, Cradley Heath on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th June.

The festival kicked off with a musical jamboree on Friday night with music provided by Sandwell Rock School and local artists.

The rain failed to dampen interest in the festival on Saturday as hundreds of people came to look at stalls, listen to speeches and generally have a good family day out.  We were honoured by the presence of TUC Regional Chair Eleanor Smith. Speakers included Sylvia Heal the ex Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, Parliamentary candidates Stephanie Peacock and Natasha Millward, and Jean Geldart from Hope Not Hate. 

Lynn Morris as Mary MacArthur spoke about low pay, long hours and the importance of collective action, principles that are as relevant today as they were in 1910. 

After the commemoration at the Chainmakers Monument in the Mary MacArthur Memorial Gardens, there was a banner procession that took place along Cradley Heath High Street to the festival.

Local artists performed in the Left Field Marquee, and we had new attractions including performances from Open Door Theatre and Stourbridge Martial Arts group. Many local organisations and trades took up stalls in the Community Tent which continues to grow each year.
Thanks to all those who played a part in making the festival such a special occasion.

Rob Johnston, Midlands TUC Regional Secretary, said

“The rain may have fallen but this failed to dampen the spirits of festival goers. From the fantastic music provided by the Rock School on the Friday Night to the many exhibitors and performers the two days were a huge success.
The support of the local community has been invaluable in helping to grow the festival, with the support of the Friends Of Chainmakers group in particular contributing to the wide variety of events and activities. The support that Sandwell Council have provided in facilitating the festival is hugely appreciated. And, of course, without the ongoing generosity and commitment of the trade unions in the region there would not be a festival at all. A big thank you to all.
Mary’s message of collective action to secure better pay for working people could not be more apt and it was great to hear Natasha Millward and Stephanie Peacock both speak so powerfully about how the Black Country needs a pay rise. In short, it was a great family day, reflecting on our history but also recognising that the Chainmakers story about better pay is a call we have to fight today”

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