Mark Drakeford opens exhibition on history of Welsh labour movement
Mark Drakeford has opened a new exhibition on the history of the Welsh labour movement.
The exhibition focuses on the lives of working-class people during the industrial revolution, the birth of early Welsh unions, popular revolts in Mold and Merthyr, the suffragettes and the creation of the NHS.
The exhibition ‘UNISON and the Welsh labour movement’, which will be permanently based at UNISON’s Cardiff office, also features three named rooms chronicling the lives of Welsh labour movement heroes, Aneurin Bevan, Thora Silverthorne and Betty Campbell.
The exhibition is themed: Birth of Class; Power in the Union; Public Service Pioneers; Political Battlegrounds; Equal Rights for All; Solidarity Forever and New Wales, New Union. Highlights include an image of original mural commemorating the Chartist uprising.
UNISON Cymru engaged local historian, Robert Griffiths and designer, Hannah Warrick, to develop the exhibition. An online version of the exhibition is also available.
“It’s great to be here for the opening of Unison’s exhibition which traces the history of the labour movement here in Wales,” Mr Drakeford, who is the leader of Welsh Labour, said.
“We can only understand today if we understand the struggles of the past. Trade unions revolutionised workplaces for so many millions of people in Wales and across the UK.”
Karen Loughlin, UNISON Cymru Wales regional secretary, said: “History shouldn’t be seen as dry or distant. We’re showing Welsh people that the women and men who have helped transform society looked and sounded just like them.
“We want people to come away inspired and fizzing with ideas thinking about what change is possible and how they can achieve it.
“There is a direct line from the struggle of working people against their exploitation in times past and today’s fight for action on the climate, anti-racism and equal rights for all.”
Dave Rees, UNISON Cymru Wales Convenor, said: “This exhibition champions the gains won by working class people and their trade unions that have benefited everyone.
“You’ll hear about the people in Mold, Merthyr and elsewhere, who banded together to turn the world on its head, winning the vote, reduced working hours and safer workplaces. It was trade union campaigning that secured the minimum wage, maternity and paternity rights, pensions, holiday pay and sick pay.
“We’re so proud of the exhibition and it shows what a positive difference trade unions can make.”