Events planned to mark Workers Rights and Social Justice Week
13 April 2023
A series of events focusing on workers’ rights will be held this month marking Workers Rights & Social Justice Week (WRSJW), which this year runs from Monday April 24th until Monday May 1st.
Social Justice is about empowering workers, citizens and communities to take action and help bring about positive change, creating fair, inclusive and equitable places to live and work. The programme is led this year by Derry City and Strabane District Council in partnership with Derry Trades Union Council (DTUC).
Launching the programme, Mayor of Dery and Strabane, Councillor Sandra Duffy, said: “Council is committed to supporting local people in the campaign for better social and working conditions for everyone, and with the current challenges presented by the cost of living crisis, this has never been more important.
“As a city we have a long history of driving change through the Civil Rights movement and supporting workers through our strong Trade Union network. The Workers Rights and Social Justice programme offers an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the past, and how they resonate with modern campaigns for social justice. It shines a light on how far we have come, and how these lessons can continue to influence and shape our approaches going forwards, particularly now as we emerge from the Covid pandemic and navigate the current economic crisis.”
This year’s programme will feature a series of talks, workshops and films brought together under the banner of ‘Together for Change’. It will raise awareness of the key milestones and historic figures that have driven forward workers’ rights locally and beyond, focusing particularly on workers’ rights, trade unionism and social justice issues, and exploring themes such as challenging racism and the role of artists in activism.
Events kick off on Monday April 24th with a screening of ground-breaking documentary ‘The Killing Floor’, charting the trade unions’ struggles in 1950s Boston to support workers in the meat factories. This will be followed on Friday by a viewing of ‘406 Days’ shining a light on the strikes by Debenhams workers, accompanied by a special panel discussion.
Other highlights of the week include a lecture by Anna Liesching, Curator of Art at National Museums NI, examining the under-representation of women in art, taking place in the Tower Museum on April 25th. The talk will explore the history of local activism through objects from the Ulster Museum collection starting with the 1500s and ending with present day practice in Ireland.
The talk is followed on April 27th by a panel event, also in the Tower Museum, led by local academic Adrian Grant, titled ‘Shirts, Ships and Strikes: Exploring the histories of work and life in 20th century Derry’. The discussion will bring together historians who have carried out research on the broad history of work and everyday life in Derry, particularly on the docks and in factories, and the subsequent decline of industry.
Young people are also welcome to get involved in this year’s programme, and have the chance to learn more about the role of activism in driving social change by joining in a banner making workshop on Tuesday 25th April at 10am in Tower Museum.
These events set the scene for the annual May Day March, which leaves Ebrington Square, making its way over the Peace Bridge, through the City Centre to Guildhall Square on Saturday April 29th. Local people are invited by Derry Trades Union Council to come together to demonstrate their commitment to working together to achieve a better future for everyone.
Chair of Derry Trades Union Council, Niall McCarroll said: “On behalf of our affiliated trade union branches and as Chairperson of Derry Trades Union Council (DTUC) - it is a real privilege to be in the position to put before the people this year’s programme of events - as we launch Workers Rights and Social Justice Week.
“DTUC would like to express our appreciation to all those across council and within the trades council who have worked together in delivering this year's week-long programme of events. Over recent times we have seen a rise in popularity and appreciation of trade union organising and social justice campaigning as people grew weary of falling living standards and decided to do something about it.
“Those both in work and out have realised that our combined contributions to society were not being valued or recognised. WRSJW 2023 is yet another platform through which we can further widen this conversation, broadening the awareness of the importance of the organised collective.
“’Together for Change’ is our message this year and it must also be our collective campaigning message - as we together continue our quest and mobilise as one in demanding social justice and equality for all.”
Find out more about the full programme of events marking Workers Rights and Social Justice Week at derrystrabane.com/workersrights