- Created: Wednesday, 18 May 2016 12:45
On Saturday 7 May history came alive at the protest in Lochee. Dundee against Workfare. Dundee Against Austerity (DAA), the Revolutionary Communist Group, Class War, Scottish Unemployed Workers Network, Dundee Trades Union Council, Dundee Trades Union and Socialist Coalition and the Socialist Workers Party stood united to condemn workfare exploitation at the Range store.
We were standing on the site of what was once the largest jute mill in the world where Scottish and Irish immigrant workers toiled to make the Baxter, Caird and Cox mill owning families fabulously wealthy. At one point in the 19th Century the densest proportion of millionaires in Europe could be found in the richest suburb of Dundee, Broughty Ferry, many miles from the filth and heat of their factories.
A recent report has highlighted the present 10 years gap in life expectancy between Lochee and the Ferry in the seven miles between them. DAA campaigners have openly condemned the Scottish National Party council's action in setting a wreath around the bust of Sir James Caird on the 100th anniversary of his birth. Fitting then that our protest rallied on Lochee High Street at a modern memorial to Mary Brooksbank, a communist who led unions and unemployed workers in Dundee in the 1920's. In 1968 Mary had sung at the unveiling of the original plaque on the site of James Connolly's birthplace in Little Ireland in the Cowgate, Edinburgh. Her father had worked with James Connolly in organising unions in Dundee and Aberdeen in the 1890's. DAA campaigners were told by locals that a famous photograph of hundreds of predominantly women workers at the mill gates had in fact come about when news of a visit of James Connolly, Irish republican socialist and trade union organiser, reached the factory gates.