In 1874 during one of the many of capitalism’s depressions, unemployed workers were demonstrating in Tompkins Square Park, New York, When for reasons best known to the authorities a detachment of mounted police charged into the crowd indiscriminately beating hundreds of men women and children with their batons. Abram Duryee, New York’s Commissioner of Police is on record as having stated ”It was the most glorious sight I ever saw---”
London 1888 saw, women and teenage girls that worked in the match making industry, the matchgirls, strike. The strike was against the poor pay, dreadful working conditions and the 14 hour working day. They were also striking against the working conditions which brought about “phossy jaw” a severe medical condition caused by phosphorous being deposited in the jaw bone resulting in toothache, swelling of the gums, and abscesses. It was a disfiguring and painful, foul smelling condition with the jaw bones eventually rotting turning greenish white and would glow in the dark. The jaw bone could be removed or it would gradually cause death.
Strong public support for the girls and an outcry at the methods used in the factories forced the manufacturers to change these methods so as to eliminate “phossy jaw” After three weeks of strike action the London match makers capitulated. Though in some other countries manufacturers persisted in the old methods until legislation forced them to change.That’s capitalism, we know there is a better way.
Read some of Glasgow's workingclass history HERE.
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