27th Jun, 2022

Union boss Len McCluskey to speak in Coventry at Tom Mann memorial lecture

John Carlon 24th Oct, 2019 Updated: 24th Oct, 2019

Trade union leader Len McCluskey will deliver a talk in Coventry next Wednesday (October 30).

The Coventry Trades Union Congress will welcome Unite general secretary McCluskey to the Methodist Central Hall, to speak at its Tom Mann memorial lecture.

Mr McCluskey will discuss ‘the future of work’ at the event, which starts at 7pm.

The lecture will also remember Tom Mann, the labour leader born in Coventry.

Mann was a pioneering trade union figure of the late 19th century, leading the campaign for an eight-hour working day.

He was a figurehead of the successful London dock strike in 1889, and subsequently became President of the Dock, Wharf, Riverside and General Labourers’ Union; he co-founded the National Transport Workers’ Federation and he was general secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering Union.

After mergers the unions ultimately formed Mr McCluskey’s union Unite, Britain’s second-largest.

Mr Mann formed the Eight Hour League and in 1889, with Keir Hardie, successfully campaigned for the Trades Union Congress to adopt the eight-hour day as a key goal.

Coventry Trades Union Congress said: “Everyone is welcome to this major trade union event, organised by Coventry TUC, to which we’re pleased Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite will give the address.

“The lecture restarts a tradition started in Coventry in the 1970s, when a national trade union leader addressed a key issue of the day at a lecture organised as a memorial to one of Coventry’s key trade union figures, Tom Mann.”

Tom Mann was born in 1856 in Grange Road in Longford, Coventry, and was a leading trade unionist in the late 19th century.

He was also the first general secretary of the Independent Labour Party and, 130 years ago, successfully campaigned with Hardie for the TUC to adopt the eight-hour day as a key goal.

Coventry TUC president, Jane Nellist, said: “Today, 130 years after Tom Mann’s campaign for the eight hour day, with robotics, automation and artificial intelligence threatening millions of jobs, we discuss the future of work, and ask where the next generation’s jobs will come from.

“What should trade unionists and socialists fight for, so as to share out work and achieve decent living standards?

“How should society be reorganised so workers and their families share the full benefits of modernisation not become its victims? Those are some of the issues we hope Len McCluskey will address.

“The Tom Mann Lecture was always a major trade union event in Coventry in the past. We’re pleased Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite, will give this year’s keynote address and help us restart the tradition.”

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