Monday, July 05, 2010

Salvationists & radicals fought for workers 1888 Three young women were dismissed from the Bryant and May factory in East London, England, for exposing the appalling working conditions there. The other 672 women labourers went out in solidarity. The 'Matchgirls' Strike' itself was unsuccessful but the unity generated nationally was unprecedented and galvanized the labor movement worldwide.

On June 23, 1888, Annie Besant (pictured; social activist and later head of the Theosophy movement) had written an article in The Link, entitled 'White Slavery in London', the consequence of which was a three-week strike among the employees of the Bryant & May match company, whose female workers worked fourteen hours a day for a wage of less than five shillings a week. In this, she was helped by HH Champion (later an important radical activist and editor in Australia).

This action, in which Besant campaigned with William Booth and Catherine Booth of the Salvation Army, was the first strike by unorganised workers to gain national publicity. The 'Matchgirls Strike' was also successful at helping to inspire the formation of unions all over Britain , and Bryant & May workers gained some protection against the appalling conditions under which they had formerly worked, and the yellow phosphorus-induced diseases that had plagued them ...

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted

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