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Matchgirls Strike and Match tax protests

EDM (Early Day Motion) 1774: tabled on 26 April 2021

Tabled in the 2019-21 session.

This motion has been signed by 14 Members. It has not yet had any amendments submitted.

Motion text

That this House commemorates the Bryant and May workers that on 24 April 1871 protested against a halfpenny tax per box on the sale of matches that was proposed by the Government of the day with a protest march on Parliament which successfully stopped the tax being implemented; further commemorates the Matchgirls who went on strike in 1888 at the Bryant and May factory in Bow in response to poor working conditions; notes that factory workers were expected to work 14 hour days for poor pay in an unsafe working environment due to the exposure of phosphorus which was used to make matches; commends their achievements of scrapping the factory’s fine system, setting up a grievance system, abolishing the deductions for working materials and the improvement of health and safety standards; further notes the continued need to advocate for high labour standards; recognises the Matchgirls as pioneers of gender equality and fairness at work who through their strike action and formation of the Union of Women Match Makers left a lasting legacy on the trade union movement; and further notes the names of the Matchgirls on both the Strike and Union Committees were Mary Cummings, Eliza Martin, Louisa Beck, Julia Gambleton, Jane Wakeling, Jane Staines, Eliza Price, Mary Naulls, Kate Sclater, Ellen Johnson, Sarah Chapman, Mary Driscoll and Alice Francis.