Sunday, 16 November 2014

Bread, and Roses too.

The increasing use of cultural and artistic forms by labour movement groups in Scotland continues apace! In addition to November 30th's Tony Benn celebration (see previous blog), news comes of a new initiative in the area of cinema.

Bread and Roses
A local Glasgow GMB branch is tentatively starting to show a series of films in a small cinema space in the city's Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA).   The first film is due next Sunday (23 November, doors at 6.15 pm) and it will be a screening of Bread and Roses. This is the entirely appropriate story of the unionisation and fight for fair treatment and pay waged by mainly immigrant cleaners and janitors in a Los Angeles office block. Ken Loachs film follows the feisty Maya and Rosa as they meet union organiser Sam and stand up for their rights often at great risk to themselves. The film will be followed by a discussion with local trade unionists.

The showing, which is intended to test out the water for a regular series of screenings, is timed to be part of Glasgow's regular anti-racist celebrations around St Andrew's Day (details of the Rally here). Tickets for the film are available from the CCA, here.

If this specific initiative by the GMB Apex Branch (which includes the staff of the STUC among its members) is successful, other screenings are planned next year, including Land and Freedom, another Ken Loach Film, this time on the Spanish Civil War timed to coincide with the anniversary of the first action by the British battalion of the International Brigade, and The Navigators a film where five Yorkshiremen try to survive after British Rail is bought out by a private company. This will be scheduled to mark International Workers' Memorial Day.  

As well as the two events above, greater Glasgow Hope not Hate has teamed up with a number of other groups to provide a whole cornucopia of films, discussion and talks around the St Andrew's Day celebrations. Spreading wider than Glasgow, it includes a talk by Denis Goldberg, one of the Rivonia trialists, alongside Nelson Mandela. This is in Irvine. Back in Glasgow's STUC, well known author, Daniel Gray (Homage to Caledonia) delivers one of the regular Morning Star Our Class, Our Culture talks (Weds 3 Dec, 7.00pm), and Jess Smith, a Scottish Traveller talks about her experience of discrimination in an event at the City's Hillhead library (Sat 6 Dec, 1.00pm).  A programme of events is at

It is great news that the TU and labour movement is enthusiastically adopting staging cultural and artistic events.  Music and song have been with us for some time, of course, but other formats are also in the great tradition of the movement, which in the 1930/40's had regular programmes of book readings, film showings and even theatre performances. Will we eventually see a resurgence of the likes of the Unity Theatre?     

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