PCS is at the Durham Miners’ Gala on Saturday (13), the largest trade union and working class event of its kind in Europe.
The event is one of the highlights of the year for many PCS reps in the north, many of whom come from mining backgrounds. It is also a great opportunity for PCS volunteers and staff to highlight our campaigns, engaging with members and recruiting this summer.
The annual event, which celebrates trade union history and workers’ rights, is organised by the Durham Miners' Association (DMA), and also known as the Big Meeting. It is the annual celebration of trade union collectivism, community spirit and international solidarity.
Traditionally, the Gala begins with colliery bands marching though their villages starting early in the morning and making their way to Durham from all directions and, in the main, that tradition remains today. This year’s march is due to start from the city centre at 8.30am.
The main assembly point for PCS members is 9.30am at The New Inn, 29 Church Street Head, DH1 3DN. PCS reps, complete with banners and flags, are meeting up to march to the racecourse together. Other assembly points are the Miners’ HQ at Red Hill, near the railway station, and the Market Place.
The focal point of the Gala is the County Hotel at Old Elvet where the two main legs of the procession converge. Here, union leaders, invited guests and local dignitaries greet the march from the hotel balcony and the bands pause to play their “party piece” before marching the short distance to the racecourse where there is a platform for the speakers.
Platform of speakers
At the racecourse, there is a platform for the speakers, and banners are strapped to the surrounding fences creating a colourful tapestry of working class history.
At 1pm, the platform party is due to arrive at the racecourse where the chairman, DMA secretary Alan Mardghum, will open the meeting and there will be speeches from:
- Jeremy Corbyn, Labour party leader
- Rebecca Long Bailey, shadow secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy
- Laura Pidcock, shadow minister for labour
- Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite
- Shami Chakrabarti, shadow attorney general
- Dave Prentis, general secretary of UNISON
- Dave Ward, general secretary of The Communication Workers Union
- Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union
- Doug Nicholls, general secretary of the General Federation of Trade Unions.
After the speeches, selected bands and banners march to the cathedral for the Miners’ Service, where this year film-maker Ken Loach is a speaker.
Back on the racecourse, the banners are lifted when the various miners’ lodges decide it is time to go and march back to the County Hotel.
Join us in Durham and at other events this summer to celebrate the people who helped win workers’ rights and as we organise to meet the challenges we face. Workers’ rights have been rolled back with more forced into poverty by years of Tory austerity.
Today we are facing:
• Poverty wages
• Insecure jobs
• Attacks on terms and conditions
• Anti-union laws
• A rise in inequality and discrimination.
What we want now:
• Decent jobs with pay that meets the cost of living
• An end to zero-hour contracts and other precarious employment practices
• Abolishment of the anti-democratic Trade Union Act and e-balloting for all union ballots
• A social security system that supports not sanctions
• An end to discrimination and equality for all.
To find out more about our campaigns and organising work visit our stall at the following festivals:
- Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival - 19-21 July
- The Burston Strike School Rally - Sunday, 1 September.
- Wigan Diggers Festival – Saturday, 7 September
Wherever you work by far the best way of our achieving our aims is by organising collectively as a movement.