An outstanding festival – history, art and education
At the weekend i attended the first ever festival of learning and organising. The festival was a celebration of the achievements of the learning agenda as a major factor in the organisation of the justice for cleaner’s campaign (J4C). There were over 70 activists from the campaign which had organised, educated and won the living wage for over 5000 migrant cleaners in London. There were cleaners in attendance from a wide range of nationalities, from Nigeria, Ghana, Poland and Latin America.
It was a great event with a significant focus on trade union history, Professor Mary Davies from London Met lectured for two hours on the subject of trade union history using the website www.tradeunionhistory.info for reference.
This was followed in the evening by Love Music Hate Racism who performed a pub quiz with questions that included great names from the music scene, such as Hugh Masekela and The Clash. A history lesson accompanied each answer which was delivered by the energetic Dave Smith, TUC education tutor. This was followed by a hip hop lesson from Ian Solomon, which was wonderful at bringing people from different cultures together in musical harmony. For more information go to http://www.lovemusichateracism.com
On the Saturday the theatre group, ‘Electric Picnic’ performed at the event. It was a moving performance following the struggle of Canary Wharf cleaners Felix, Rosa, Magda and Meric for a living wage and respect in a world in which they are invisible. I had a tear in my eye as the manager Sam threw pennies at the cleaners and made Rosa remove her make-up in order to work, her personal symbol of self-respect. One of the activists at the event, Olatayo said, ‘…this is all about us, how did they know…’ Everybody was in agreement that art such as theatre is a great and memorable way to share experiences and educate people about the work that trade unions do and the plight of the vulnerable. We were all singing along at the end of the performance, it was a truly uplifting experience. This was a great festival and highlighted some of the challenges that we have face particularly in organising migrant domestic cleaners. And let us not forget that migrant workers are responsible for 10% of this country’s economic growth in additon to adding cultural richness which has been exemplified by this outstanding festival.
And whilst we are on this subject please don’t forget International Womens Day, we are holding an event at the TUC, see flyer attached tucwomandsday09