Launch of website on the history of Manchester and Salford Women’s Trades Union Council 1895 to 1919
On Saturday 29th April the Mary Quaile Club will launch the website of the history of the Manchester and Salford Women’s Trade Union Council 1895-1919. This will take place at 2.15 pm in the Mary Quaile Room at the Mechanics Institute, 103 Princess Street, Manchester, as part of Manchester Trades Council’s May Day events.
The MSWTUC was formed in February 1895 specifically to organise women workers, often in low paid jobs, into trade unions. Its early supporters included C P Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian, who personally hand wrote the minutes of the first two meetings in a beautiful script. The paid organisers fostered trade unions among sewing machinists, upholsteresses, tailoresseses, cigar makers, weavers and many other trades.
The two volumes of Minutes of the MSWTUC came to light during the research into the life of Mary Quaile, who worked for the Council 1911-1919 as an Organising Secretary. Her great-nephew, Martin Ennis, presented them to the Mary Quaile Club. It seems Mary took them with her when the MSWTUC office closed in April 1919 when the Council merged with the Manchester Trades Union Council.
The Minutes have been transcribed by Mary Quaile Club member Bernadette Hyland, who said
“We believe that these Minutes are a unique item of national significance and will be a major contribution to our knowledge of women workers and trade unionism in the late C19th and early C20th. The Minutes are hand-written, cover 760 pages in total, and are the complete record of the meetings of the Council, including both the decisions reached and also often what was said by those attending. They show the daily grind of supporting and encouraging working women into trade unions and agitating for decent pay and proper working conditions. A century later women still face many of the same problems with cuts in pay, benefits slashed and the growth of zero hour contracts. We feel that the work of the Council can be an inspiration to today’s women workers. ”
The website will contain the transcription and copies of the original minutes. It has been funded by donations from individuals and from trade unions, including the General Federation of Trade Unions, Professional Footballers Association, PCS, RMT , Unison and Unite .
The speakers at this event will be Bernadette Hyland and Lisa Turnbull.
Bernadette is a writer, journalist and active member of the Mary Quaile Club, Lisa is an active member of the Durham Teaching Assistants campaign to fight a 23% wage cut proposed by Labour-controlled Durham County Council.
This event is free.