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Hundreds attend Burston Strike School Rally in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 16:51 02 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:52 02 September 2018

Trade unionists on the march at the Burston Strike Rally  Picture: Chris Bishop

Trade unionists on the march at the Burston Strike Rally Picture: Chris Bishop

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Hundreds of trade unionists marched through a Norfolk village to commemorate the longest strike in history.

Banners of the many groups taking part in the rally  Picture: Chris BishopBanners of the many groups taking part in the rally Picture: Chris Bishop

They gathered on the village green at Burston, near Diss today, to hear speakers and performers, before marching with banners flying.

In April 1914 teachers Tom and Annie Higdon were dismissed from their posts in the village school.

Trade unionists on the march at the Burston Strike Rally  Picture: Chris BishopTrade unionists on the march at the Burston Strike Rally Picture: Chris Bishop

Children marched around the village with placards saying: “We Want Our Teachers Back”.

Some 66 of them went on strike and school was boycotted for the next 25 years.

Trade unionists on the march at the Burston Strike Rally  Picture: Chris BishopTrade unionists on the march at the Burston Strike Rally Picture: Chris Bishop

The Higdons set up an improvised class on the village green, which was the centre of today’s celebrations.

As well as the main stage, there were campaigning stalls, paper sellers and refreshments.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT union, addresses the Burston Strike Rally  Picture: Chris BishopMick Cash, general secretary of the RMT union, addresses the Burston Strike Rally Picture: Chris Bishop

Jo Rust, secretary of the King’s Lynn Trades Council, said: “It’s a lovely day out. I try to sell it to my kids as a Socialist fete.

“I just like the atmosphere - it’s like going to an event where all your best mates are at.”

Trade unionists on the march at the Burston Strike Rally  Picture: Chris BishopTrade unionists on the march at the Burston Strike Rally Picture: Chris Bishop

Francis Bone, from the King’s Lynn Number One branch of the GMB union, said: “I love it. It’s a fantastic day out.”
Speakers included Mick Cash, general secretary off the RMT Union, who said unionists should unite behind workers whose jobs were under threat at Britvic, in Norwich.

The firm plans to relocate production of its Robinsons drinks to other locations around the UK next year, placing more than 200 jobs at risk.

Anto Morra performs at the Burston Stirke Rally  Picture: Chris BishopAnto Morra performs at the Burston Stirke Rally Picture: Chris Bishop

Also on the speakers’ bill were shadow chancellor John McDonnell, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, Mark Serwotka, secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union and Gail Cartmail, assistant general secretary of Unite.

Performers on stage included Anto Morra, Red Flags, the RMT and NASUWT brass bands, the 1st May Band, Kate Smurthwaite and Maddy Carty.

Trade unionists on the march at the Burston Strike Rally  Picture: Chris BishopTrade unionists on the march at the Burston Strike Rally Picture: Chris Bishop

The strike school is recognised as an emblem of the Labour movement. Trade unionists donated money to build it and the names of their societies are carved into its stonework.

It closed in 1939 after Tom Higdon died, but remains standing as a monument to rural working folk fighting oppression.

Trade unionists on the march at the Burston Strike Rally  Picture: Chris BishopTrade unionists on the march at the Burston Strike Rally Picture: Chris Bishop

Trade unionists on the march at the Burston Strike Rally  Picture: Chris BishopTrade unionists on the march at the Burston Strike Rally Picture: Chris Bishop

Trade unionists on the march at the Burston Strike Rally  Picture: Chris BishopTrade unionists on the march at the Burston Strike Rally Picture: Chris Bishop

Trade unionists on the march at the Burston Strike Rally  Picture: Chris BishopTrade unionists on the march at the Burston Strike Rally Picture: Chris Bishop

Hundreds gatheered to hear speakers and performers at the Burston Strike Rally  Picture: Chris BishopHundreds gatheered to hear speakers and performers at the Burston Strike Rally Picture: Chris Bishop

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