Silvertown: The Lost Story of a Strike That Shook London and Helped Launch the Modern Labor Movement

Silvertown: The Lost Story of a Strike That Shook London and Helped Launch the Modern Labor Movement

Silvertown: The Lost Story of a Strike That Shook London and Helped Launch the Modern Labor Movement

Silvertown: The Lost Story of a Strike That Shook London and Helped Launch the Modern Labor Movement

Synopsis

In 1889, Samuel Winkworth Silver's rubber and electrical factorywas the site of a massive worker revolt that upended the Londonindustrial district which bore his name: Silvertown. Once referredto as the "Abyss" by Jack London, Silvertown was notorious foroppressive working conditions and the relentless grind of productionsuffered by its largely unorganized, unskilled workers. Theseworkers, fed-up with their lot and long ignored by traditional craftunions, aligned themselves with the socialist-led "New Unionism"movement. Their ensuing strike paralyzed Silvertown for threemonths. The strike leaders- including Tom Mann, Ben Tillett,Eleanor Marx, and Will Thorne- and many workers viewed thetrade union struggle as part of a bigger fight for a "co-operativecommonwealth." With this goal in mind, they shut down Silvertownand, in the process, helped to launch a more radical, modernlabor movement. Historian and novelist John Tully, author of the monumental socialhistory of the rubber industry The Devil's Milk, tells the storyof the Silvertown strike in vivid prose. He rescues the uprising- overshadowed by other strikes during this period- from relativeobscurity and argues for its significance to both the labor and socialistmovements. And, perhaps most importantly, Tully presentsthe Silvertown Strike as a source of inspiration for today's workers,in London and around the world, who continue to struggle for betterworkplaces and the vision of a "co-operative commonwealth."
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