Monthly Archives: May 2015


Film screening 1

4 June 2015

Govan screening banner

Document Human Rights Film FestivalSpirit of RevoltScottish Peace NetworkIndustrial Workers of the World (IWW)

Present

We are not removing! Two films and a blether for the centenary of the 1915 Rent Strikes

Pearce Institute, Thursday 4 June 2015, 7pm

Free / donations welcome / Refreshments provided / Free crèche (please book)

Fairfield Heritage Centre (located a short walk away) will be open before the event

The 1915 rent strikes, which started in the back-courts of Govan tenements, were a famous victory in the ongoing struggle for decent, affordable housing, and an example of working-class solidarity in action. While the workers were risking their lives at the front, or their health in the munitions factories of the First World War, the landlords tried to increase the rents. But the women were not having any of that. They didn’t have the vote yet, but they had each other’s backs when they said – We are not removing!

Films:

Red Skirts on Clydeside (1984, 43min)

Introduced by filmmaker Jenny Woodley

When this film was made, the importance of women in the history of social movements on the Clyde had been all but forgotten. The filmmakers bring this history back from the archives through interviews with women who knew Mary Barbour, Helen Crawfurd, and Agnes Dollan. Hear how the sheriff officers got chucked into the midden and how the tenement back courts echoed with radical ideas!

You Play Your Part (2011, 24min)

Introduced by filmmaker Kirsten MacLeod

Twenty-seven years after the original film was made, Govan women reflect on their lives and roles by the Clyde in a unique collaborative women’s history film project.

There will be some time and refreshments between the films for anyone interested in the rent strikes centenary or in contemporary housing issues to meet and chat.

Free crèche will be available, please contact the organisers to book a place.

Fairfield Heritage Centre will be open until 7pm on this evening. A short walk from the Pearce Institute, featuring displays on shipbuilding and local history, including the rent strikes, in A-listed shipyard offices: http://www.fairfieldgovan.co.uk/heritage/

Earlier that day there is an event at Glasgow University on film and history, including films about the UCS work-in, Pollok Free State, and the Govanhill Baths. Please click here for details.

Download the flyer


‘A Grateful Country Will Never Forget You’

Document: C. A. Glyde, Pamphlets for the People. No. 5, A grateful country will never forget you. Bradford, 1915. Warwick Digital Collections, Maitland Sara Hallinan collection

Available online: A grateful country will never forget you
Comment

The real enemy of the workers in every so-called civilised country is Capitalism and Landlordism, in the guise of rent, interest, dividend, and profit-mongering. (p. 12)

As war dragged on into 1915, the effects of wartime profiteering were plain to see. The cost of living was rising –  not only rents, but many other essentials. The assistance that had been promised to soldiers’ families was slow to come, and insufficient. More people had to seek aid from charitable organisations or the Parish, which meant being subject to them policing your behaviour and stopping support if you were accused of any ‘immorality’.

This pamphlet, published in Bradford by an Independent Labour Party councillor in June 1915, makes a case against militarism and documents the situation at that point. The author argues that  the romantic view of heroism and patriotism is used by the State for recruitment, but once the war is over, those promises to soldiers and their families, as well as all the workers involved in the war effort, are swiftly forgotten. He refers back to the case of soldiers who fought in Crimea and South Africa, “thrown on one side like sucked lemons”, rejected for jobs and receiving 5 shillings a week (about £15).

Separation Allowance rates. Imperial War Museum.

Separation Allowance rates. Imperial War Museum.

In March 1915, the separation allowance for a soldier’s wife was 12s 6d (£27). As Glyde argues,

Since the war started not only have many of the dependants of those on active service been half starved, but they have also been harried by charity visitors, some of whom have behaved worse than the most hardened Poor Law relieving officer. They have also been publicly exposed for their supposed drinking habits (…) Magistrates have passed restriction orders which prevented women from entering public-houses during certain hours of the day. (p. 9)

On top of this, the capitalists were exploiting the war situation to raise prices and extract more profit from the consumers’ pockets. In his example from a family of five living in London, Glyde shows that in the first five months of war the price of groceries and coal had gone up by about 20%.

In his conclusion, the author points out that the capitalists who now speak of ‘patriotism’ “know as much about the principle as a crocodile knows about arithmetic”, and their patriotism is sordid and selfish, creating exploitation, starvation, and exclusion.

The “Patriots” allow millions of human beings (…) to be herded together in slums. No attempt has been made to properly house these millions owing to the hostility of the slum owners and propertied classes. We were told that the money could not be found to build them (…) yet money can be found to run a war at a cost of three millions a day, and bomb shells are being used at a cost of £1,000 each. (p. 19)