Reports from the Burston School Strike Rally 06/09/09

Once again, on the first Sunday of September, the village of Burston became host to a day of trade union marching, speeches and music (from a fantastic Cuban band, commemorating 50 years since the Cuban revolution) from 11am – 4pm. As I mentioned in a previous blogpost, the event annually celebrates the Burston School Strike of 1914 – 1939, where pupils and parents walked out of the council run Village School, setting up the strike school to ensure that the children still had an education. The strike fought against the principles of the Education Act (which ensured the retaining of the educational status quo) and the interruption of the pupil’s study by landowners using the children as cheap labour when it suited them.

According to the Unite organisers, the weather was going to be pretty good. Although I wasn’t available to go last year, I did hear that a deluge plagued the event. Not so this year – it seemed more like early summer than early autumn. I arrived at around 10am, met up with the other comrades, wandered around the trade union stalls and listened to the speeches. Unfortunately, Tony Benn was unable to speak, citing illness. So the schedule was slightly altered, a band was introduced early and the march through Burston village started at 12:25pm.

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We were pretty surprised that Richard Howett MEP joined us on the march – but delighted! The march lasted just over 45 minutes, I’m sure the villagers of Burston were delighted to be treated to a plethora of union flags visible over their hedges. Some were stopping by people’s farms to buy eggs and apples on route (who said we didn’t have time to support local business?)

After the march finished, it was back to the Village Green to watch the remaining speeches. Richard Howett was first to speak for the afternoon – excellent speech about being a proud socialist and Europe’s commitment to global social justice and equality.

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The last speech of the day came from a Cuban representative, who had been active in the Cuban solidarity movement for several years. Afterwards, the audience were treated to a closing performance from a Cuban band. I could spot several people in the audience dancing and waving Cuban flags. Perfect way to end a fantastic day and a fantastic event.

Here’s to next year.

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