17 Jul 2008
This year's Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival should be the 'greenest' yet. The South West TUC has worked hard to encourage people to come by public transport, coach or shared cars. People will be urged to recycle and leave no waste; a wind and solar generator will be tested; all caterers are expected to come with biodegradable plates and cutlery and the new South West TUC Green Workplaces project team will be on hand to give advice. The Tolpuddle Green Camp has had a good response and local environmental campaigners and advice agencies will have stalls.
The cottages and museum have had their insulation improved and solar panels are being fitted.
Derek Wall, the Green Party Principal Speaker, will address the festival and the discussions on the Saturday will include a debate over food production.
'The repression of the Tolpuddle martyrs in the 19th century is the reason for this festival but trade unionists are still repressed even killed for their work in countries like Colombia. I am proud to have been invited to celebrate the spirit of Tolpuddle and to provide the support of the Green Party to workers across Britain, particularly in the public sector who are threatened with pay cuts.
Green politics is about social justice and to create real justice you have to challenge neo-liberalism and give workers rights.
In turn environmental problems are problems that can only be solved with the participation and input of workers. We need green plans where workers helped develop ecological forms of production. We must also remember how green industrial action has brought benefits. In the 1980s sea dumping of nuclear waste was halted after industrial action by the National Union of Seamen.
Of course such action would now be illegal because of Mrs Thatcher's anti-union legislation. Strong unions are essential both to the prosperity of ordinary people rather than fat cats and to protecting the planet. This is why I am proud to say the Green Party supports the campaign for a Trade Union Freedom Bill.'
Dr Wall is speaking at the main rally on sunday at 12 pm .