Unifor Local 27 Retirees Chapter

Retired from the job, but not the fight

May 1st ~ Toppuddle Memorial Service

Posted on January 11, 2015

On Thursday, May 1st at 5 pm a memorial service to honour the Topuddle Martyrs will be held. The Service will be held at the Tolpuddle Martyrs' memorial sculpture at Ivy Park at the fork of the Thames. As part of the service there will be the presentation of the Topuddle Memorial Award to Rick Witherspoon, Past CAW skilled trades representative for FORD 1520 Local Past President London District Labour Council, CAW National Representative. Retired

A light dinner (finger foods) will be served afterwards at the Wortley Roadhouse, 190 Wortley Rd London.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs were a group of 19th century British labourers who were arrested and convicted for swearing a secret oath as members of the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers

These workers had seen their wages lowered over several years from 10 shillings a week down to 6, the oath they swore was that they would refuse work for less then 10 shillings a week. At the time, friendly societies had strong elements of what are now considered to be the predominant role of trade unions.

In 1834 a local landowner wrote to the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, to complain about the union, an obscure law from 1797 prohibiting people from swearing secret oaths to each other was invoked. The six workers were arrested, found guilty, and transported to the penal colonies of Australia.

Back in Briton they quickly became popular heroes and 800,000 signatures were collected for their release, because of this public outcry over their treatment they were released in 1836 and 1837. Three of the six emigrated to Canada and settled in and around London