Unions gather in Burston

by New Worker correspondent

A FRIENDLY atmosphere prevailed last Sunday as thousands of trade union activists and other labour movement campaigners gathered in the Norfolk town of Burston for the annual rally to mark the historic Burston school strike.

This strike lasted from 1914 to 1939 after teachers Kitty and Tom Higdon were sacked from the regular school for giving out-of-hours advice, support and encouragement to farm labourers fighting to improve their terms and conditions of employment and build their trade union.

The local villagers were outraged and set up their own strike-school in a village barn — with the Higdons as the teachers and boycotted the regular school for 25 years. The strike-school is now a museum of the local fight for trade union rights.

The New Communist Party, as usual, held a stall at the event and sold 35 copies of the New Worker.

Comrades had many friendly discussions with people at the event, including a group from Searchlight, the anti-fascist magazine, and Suffolk CPGB, who agreed to have joint meetings with the East Anglia NCP.

Our comrades also congratulated Searchlight on the magazine’s article in memoriam of Dolly Shaer.

Bob Crow was the main speaker at the event and spoke about the privatisation of the NHS, and Education, and the trade unions are the main opposition to this. The customary march around the village, with trade union banners held high, took place in memory of the Higdons and the strikers who supported them.

Our comrades were engaged in many discussions with other organisations, and Michael Fletcher, the NCP’s industrial organiser, and an officer of Unite the union was interviewed by BBC television on the trade unions’ attitude towards the Labour Party.

The festival was a success with the NCP arguing for Left Unity, including the Labour Party.