This weekend sees the annual festival which celebrates the Tolpuddle Martyrs, 6 farmworkers, who, in 1834, formed a group to protest at their wages being cut. Trade unionism was in its infancy and much feared by Government and employers alike. They were tried and convicted of "swearing illegal oaths" and sentenced to transportation to Australia for several years, as an example to others. A public outcry followed this harsh treatment, and in 1836 their convictions were set aside, and most of them returned to England, although why they would want to escapes me. One or perhaps two, went to America. These events were a turning point for trade unions, and workers' right to form them were established. Although they were not the first, these men's cause set trade unions on their way, and trade unionists from around the world meet in the sleepy Dorset village of Tolpuddle every year to remember them.
Jul 20, '02
You're welcome! That was quick!