On Saturday 13th September, the Black Country Museum will host the annual Women Chainmaker's Festival. Anthony Wedgewood Benn, formerly 2nd Viscount Stansgate (Tony Benn to you and me), is a regular fixture at the event, although this time Baroness Margaret Prosser is coming to speak. Below is the text of a leaflet that will be circulated by the West Midlands Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World questioning the role of bosses in our union movement and celebrating the actions of our fellow workers nearly a century ago.
The Baroness and the Chainmakers
The Women Chainmaker's Festival is a celebration of the inspirational struggle of the Cradley Heath Women Chainmakers who nearly a century ago agitated and went on strike to gain better pay and working conditions.
The keynote speaker for this year’s festival is Baroness Margaret Prosser, the former deputy general secretary of the T&G Union, Labour Party treasurer, and low pay commissioner.
What a Prosser!
West Midlands Industrial Workers of the World
Whose Side Are You On?
Presumably Baroness Prosser is here to associate herself with the Chainmakers struggle and relate this to women's equality in the workplace and the struggle for low paid workers.
Since rising up through the ranks of the trade union movement she is now a non-executive director of the Royal Mail. Recently Baroness Prosser urged her company to stand firm against striking postal workers and insisted her company's management shouldn't give in because ‘they wouldn’t be able to compete with their competitors’. This echoes the Chainmaker's bosses who also claimed the fight for a fair wage would render them uncompetitive.
What a Prosser!
So we have a former trade union leader who is also a boss speaking at a festival sponsored by a union (CWU) that represents the workers that she has attacked. You wouldn't be wrong in thinking there's a considerable conflict of interests here. Did Prosser develop her anti-worker stance after her time at the head of the Trade Union Movement or did she have that approach all along? With leaders like this it is no surprise that unions have been so ineffective in defending the gains that our ancestors fought so bitterly for.
The Industrial Workers Of The World (IWW)
If you're looking for an alternative, then the Industrial Workers of the World is a fighting union that doesn't compromise with the bosses.
The IWW is a union for all the workers of the world, One Big Union, across all industries, uniting all workers in all workplaces. We have no union bureaucracy and the bosses can't join. We also have no links with political parties.
We welcome dual membership so we are not urging you to abandon your current union.
We are building a union that represents only workers’ interests, run by workers for workers.
An injury to one is an injury to all!