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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 August 2013

The Mill: A change from the usual TV

Pete Watson, Nottingham

Channel 4's The Mill makes a change from the usual TV. Here we have a glimpse into the lives of working class teenagers forced to work in the cotton mills of the north west.

It is set in the 1830s, a time of protest and change in Britain. The "ten hours movement" is active to reduce the working day.

For the children and young people who work at the Mill, this is a dream. They are "contracted" to work 12 hours a day and more in return for food and shelter.

This drama is based on the Greg family who were mill owners at the time. Many of the events in the series took place, based on the historical records of the area.

Life is hard for the young workers with the Mill bell sounding for the start of work at 6am. But the young Mill women don't take things lying down.

In episode one, a worker decides to reduce the working day using her own methods. She climbs the bell tower and takes out the clanger so they all get a sleep in! The overseer at the Mill routinely abuses the young women who work at the Mill. The clanger is put to good use when he seeks to abuse her.

Hannah Greg, of the mill owning family, is active in the anti-slavery movement. She takes a young worker with her to a meeting where an ex-slave tells of her life in slavery.

The well-to-do audience gasp when she tells of children having to work from dawn to dusk without pay. But Tommy, the young worker, nods at this. What real difference is there between him and a slave?

The ten hours movement had some success in passing laws to reduce the working week and child labour. But what is a zero-hours contract but a return to the day when young people were forced to work for nothing? To sit waiting for a call to tell you whether you can work is unpaid labour. Past gains often have to be won again by struggle.

The next episode is on Channel 4 at 8pm, Sunday 18 August, or you can view all episodes so far on 4OD: channel4.com/programmes/the-mill/4od

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In The Socialist 14 August 2013:


Socialist Party campaigns

Zero tolerance for zero-hours!

End zero-hour contracts now!


Socialist Party editorial

A tale of two Britains


Socialist Party news and analysis

Beware a recovery!

Met finally apologise for G20 death

London Olympics legacy - one year on

Football and big business: time to reclaim the game

Socialist Party subs appeal

Them & Us


Socialist Party events

Come to the Socialist Party Summer Camp


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Hunt attacks NHS staff and patients

Save Our Hospital!

Protest at the Tory Conference in Manchester


International socialist news and analysis

Tunisia: Mobilise to bring down the government

South Africa: Limpopo WASP launch

Seattle: Socialist challenge to corporate Democrats


Socialist Party workplace news

Defend the Four: Tribunal compensation award to Unison activists

Postal workers ballot for action

On your bike, Serco

Swansea council pay attacks angers workers


Anti-Bedroom Tax

Winning a reprieve from the bedroom tax


Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Building TUSC in Caerphilly


Socialist Party comments and reviews

Reflections and sycophancy: Kinnock versus the socialist Liverpool council

The Mill: A change from the usual TV

Successes, failures and stalemates: A week in the life of a trade union rep


 

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