Dare to Be Free: Women in Trade Unions, Past and Present
In the first part Michael Herbert tells the remarkable story of Mary Quaile (1886-1958). An Irish migrant to Manchester, Mary rose from working as a waitress to fame as one of the most active women trade unionists in Britain. She organised women workers through the Manchester and Salford Women’s Trades Council, and later as a national officer in TGWU. In 1925 she led a TUC delegation of British women trade unionists to the Soviet Union to see this new society for themselves. In 1926 she was on the General Council of the TUC during the General Strike. For fifty years Mary never wavered from her belief that trade unions were the key to women achieving proper pay and decent working conditions.
In the second part Bernadette Hyland interviews ten women of today from different unions about how and why they became active in the trade union movement. Working in both the public and private sector, and of different ages, they too are united in their belief that trade unionism can make a real difference to the lives of working women and men. The women she interviews are Jane Stewart (UNITE), Annette Wright (PCS, Manchester Trades Union Council), Bernie Gallagher (UNISON), Rachel Broady (NUJ), Linda Mercer (GMB), Lorna Tooley (RMT), Sarah Woolley (BFAWU), Beccie Ions (GMB), Nilufer Erdem (UNITE) and Jade Clarke (BFAWU).
“I’m active… because I believe that working class people, within unions, are the main power for political change and when organised, we can apply immense pressure on our political leaders to create a fairer, more prosperous society with less inequality. I would like to see the wealth begin to move from the ruling class into the other 90%!” Jade Clarke, BFAWU
Publication has been made possible by a grant from the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust and the General Federation of Trade Unions. It has 42 pages and is professionally designed. It costs £3.95. ISBN 978-0-9932247-1-3.
It was launched on 4 June 2016 at Three Minute Theatre as part of the Manchester Histories Festival.
How to buy this book
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Reviews and other articles about the book
Article by Bernadette Hyland for Women Writers blog: “Mary Quaile: Why Don’t we Know About Her?
Article by Bernadette Hyland in Morning Star on Mary’s trip to Soviet Union in 1925.
Northern Resisters: conversations with radical women
In this book Bernadette speaks to nine women from the north west who have been active in radical movements over the pasty forty years, including trade unionism, Women’s Liberation, radical bookselling, anti-racism, the peace movement, Ireland and Palestine.
Bernadette says: “In this book I ask the question; what does it mean to be an activist; how does it affect your life and how do people keep going at a time of increasing attacks on all the aspects of this society that has made it a decent place for people to live?
My conversations with these women cover many of the important issues of the post war era: the peace movement, trade unions, women’s rights and issues around sexuality, anti-fascist campaigns, Ireland and Palestine. It is their story, it is my story and it may be yours.”
In the second part of the book Bernadette has selected a number of her articles previously published between 1988 and 2014. These include articles about Irish identity and politics in Britain, an interview with Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, an article about trade union education projects and a discussion with writers Cathy Crabb, Alice Nutter, Maxine Peake and Sally Wainwright on whether there is such a thing as a “northern writer”.
Bernadette Hyland is a writer, researcher and political activist. Born in Manchester she sees herself as following in the footsteps of the rich radical history of the north. Her articles have appeared in the Irish Post, Morning Star, Big Issue in the North, Contributoria and other publications. She also writes a popular blog Lipstick Socialist. Bernadette is a member of the Manchester branch of the National Union of Journalists.
The book has 76 pages and is professionally designed and printed with numerous pictures to acompany the articles. It costs £5.95
In January 2016 Northern ReSisters was longlisted for the Bread and Roses radical book prize, which is awarded every year by the Alliance of Radical Booksellers. Other books listed include Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary by Anita Anand, Cameron’s Coup by Polly Toynbee, and Blacklisted by Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain.
Reviews and articles about the book
a review of the book by Mark Metcalfe in UNITE magazine March 2016.
Bernadette is interviewed about the book on local Manchester TV station That’s Manchester
an article by Bernadette about why she wrote the book in the Morning Star
Bernadette discussed Northern ReSisters and some of her favourite books on Hannah’s Bookshelf, presented by Hannah Priest on North Manchester FM on 9 May 2015. You can still listen to the programme here.
a review of the book by Jo K in the Salford Star
a review of the book by Jeannie Robinson in Socialist Review
a review of the book by Dorothy Winard on the Working Class Movement Library blog
a review of the book by Chris Tavner in Now Then magazine
an article about the book in the Saddleworth Independent
an article about the book in the Irish Post
an interview with Bernadette in Now Then magazine
a review of the book by Charlotte Hughes on her blog The Poor Side of Life
The book was very favourably reviewed in Socialist Lawyer, the magazine of the Haldane Society. (This is not yet available online)
How To Buy This Book.