TUC Women Chainmakers’ Festival of Cradley Heath

The Friends of the Women Chainmakers     contact fwc_sandwellnut@btconnect.com  

March 2018

Dear Friends,
Welcome to the first edition of our Newsletter!

Just a little reminder of what we’re all about…

In the Autumn of 1910 the Women Chainmakers of Cradley Heath focused the World’s attention on the plight of Britain’s low paid women workers. In their back yard forges hundreds of women laid down their tools to strike for a living wage.
Young Women in a Chainshop

Led by the charismatic union organiser and campaigner Mary Macarthur, the women’s struggle became a national and international cause célèbre. Mary led the Women to demand that the minimum rate of pay set by the Chain Trade Board was implemented fairly.
Mary Reid Macarthur
After ten long weeks they won the dispute and increased their earnings from as little as 5 shillings (25p) to 11 shillings (55p) a week. This was all the more remarkable because the women worked at home, or in small factories and had no history of working together to achieve a common goal. Using her ‘bundle of sticks’ analogy, Mary was able to convince the women about the strength of solidarity, empowering them to achieve wonderous results and lay the foundations of equality for future generations.

Their victory helped to make the principle of a national minimum wage a reality! We have such a lot to thank them all for.

2018 Year of the Woman

If ever there was moment in time to evaluate the progress made towards gender equality that moment is now! Barely a day seems to go by without society having to ask itself difficult questions about how it values and perceives the role of women. But, these issues are not new ones, the women standing up today to assert their rights are standing on the shoulders of those women in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries who began the struggle towards equality. One of those women was Mary Macarthur, who we, the Friends of the Women Chainmakers continue to celebrate and educate others about in our work.

Of course, you are welcome to contact us and get involved! Come and meet us at an up-coming event. Or simply read more about Mary Macarthur and the Women Chainmakers of Cradley Heath.
Don’t forget to share with your friends and invite them to subscribe too!

Until the next edition of our newsletter,
Thank you for reading!
The Friends of the Women Chainmakers.