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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 September 2006

Organising migrant workers

THE URGENT need to organise migrant workers was one of the themes of the Burston rally on 3 September. It was also a celebration of 100 years of the agricultural workers' union, now part of the TGWU.

Ivan Monckton from the TGWU introduced the rally. He has been heavily involved in recruiting and representing the 5,000 Polish migrant workers employed by one strawberry farmer in Leominster. These workers had primitive toilet facilities and were paying 35 week for a room in a caravan shared by six to seven others. They working 60 hours a week with no overtime pay.

400,000 migrant workers were employed in agriculture every year, which the TGWU has a responsibility to organise.

Socialist Party member Teresa MacKay explained how in 1906, the National Federation of Women Workers was formed by Mary Macarthur, which began organising women into industrial action to improve their wages and conditions.

The same year the Tories were kicked out of office. Farm workers in Norfolk were sacked and evicted by their employers for not voting Tory. This prompted George Edwards to form the Eastern Counties Agricultural Labourers Union - the forerunner of the agricultural workers' union.

When Teresa summed up the meeting, she said millions of trade unionists and young people would not be persuaded to vote Labour as they no longer saw it as the party of the working class.

There was spontaneous applause.

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In The Socialist 14 September 2006:


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