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Dawn addresses union festival

Bristol South MP hails 'extraordinary women' who started minimum wage movement

Dawn Primarolo, Labour MP for Bristol South, today gave the keynote speech at the Women Chainmakers' Festival. Dawn travelled to the Black Country Living Museum to help pay tribute to a group of women who won a minimum wage for their industry.

Dawn was joined by Labour MP and Deputy Speaker Sylvia Heal at the event, which attracts trade unionists from across the world. The festival celebrates the courage of the chainmakers of Cradley Heath who, faced with starvation wages, went on strike for ten weeks in 1910. The chainmakers, led by Mary MacArthur, successfully established the right to a minimum wage, and set the foundations for the National Minimum Wage, which came into effect under Labour in 1999.

Speaking after the event, Dawn said: "It was a real honour to be asked to speak at this important trade union festival. Through their courage, tenacity and belief in the righteousness of their cause, they chainmakers secured a magnificent success. Through co-operation and solidarity, they achieved far more together than they could ever have done alone".

"We owe these extraordinary women an enormous debt of gratitude. Of all Labour's achievements since we came to office, the minimum wage is the one of which many of us are most proud. The minimum wage simply would not have happened without the dedication of people like the chainmakers and the labour movement", Dawn commented.

[16 September 2006]

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