Clay strike centenary puts the spotlight on low wages in the 21st century
The village of Bugle has commemorated the centenary of the dark day when Welsh policemen baton-charged striking clay workers.
The anniversary was marked by a series of events in the clay country village, including a debate asking: Does Cornwall need a pay rise now?
During the summer of 1913 some 5,000 workers and their families were involved in a ten-week strike over pay and union rights. The men eventually returned to work and built a union and within weeks had reached a deal with their employers, giving them all they had been fighting for.
Nigel Costley, regional secretary of the South West TUC and author of the book 1913 China Clay Strike, said: "Exactly 100 years ago people were fighting in the streets of Bugle to get a pay rise and union rights. A century later people are again struggling to make ends meet. Average weekly pay in Cornwall was £325.70 in 2012, less than 80 per cent of the average for England. Earnings in Cornwall as a whole have fallen by 7.7 per cent since 2010 as people are forced to work less hours or take low-paid jobs."
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Mr Costley was joined for the debate in Bugle Village Hall by a panel consisting of MP Stephen Gilbert, Conservative councillor Tom French and Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke.
"Inequality and injustice was a key feature of the 1913 strike and I believe people are searching for an alternative to the current crisis that will produce a fairer share for working people," said Mr Costley. "At a time when inflation is rising, we believe Cornish workers deserve a pay rise. Only when people have better pay will the economy really recover and Cornwall will no longer need life support funds from Europe."
Other events included a screening of a clay industry documentary, the BBC film Stocker's Copper, based on the relationship between a Welsh police officer and the striking clay miner, a songs of praise concert and a performance by folk musician Richard Trethewey.