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Posted on 23 July 2015 at 18:35 GMT

Tolpuddle march, July 2015

Tolpuddle march, July 2015   (Click to enlarge)

Determined mood at Tolpuddle to defend the unions

Trade unions gathered in Tolpuddle, Dorset, to march to celebrate the founding of the union movement in the 1830s. In 1834, farm workers in west Dorset formed a trade union. Unions were lawful and growing fast but six leaders of the union were arrested and sentenced to seven years' transportation to Australia for taking an oath of secrecy. A massive protest swept across the country. Thousands of people marched through London and many more organised petitions and protest meetings to demand their freedom.

This year saw a record crowd as the camp site was fully booked and the car parks were overflowing for the march on Sunday. The whole weekend seemed to reflect a different mood after the government's budget cuts and the anti-trade union laws promised by the Tories.

South West NSSN banner on the Tolpuddle march, July 2015

South West NSSN banner on the Tolpuddle march, July 2015   (Click to enlarge)

Members of the Socialist Party handed out hundreds of leaflets calling for the TUC to organise a general strike to combat the anti-trade union bill, and NSSN leaflets promoting the 13th September NSSN lobby of this year's TUC Congress.

We had three stalls running, with one in the main marquee. Hundreds of people signed our 'Defend the Trade Unions' petition.

As an attendee of the event for years now, never before have I seen the level of response we had this time - we sold 150 copies of the Socialist and collected 200 for our fighting fund. This was a testament to the echo we received for our demands to the TUC to get off its knees and start to defend our movement.

Sean Brogan, Exeter Socialist Party

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 23 July 2015 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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