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Eleanor Marx

ELEANOR MARX will be commemorated with a new award celebrating outstanding women union reps, general union GMB has announced.
 
The union’s national women’s taskforce will present the new prize to an activist “judged as having... best reflected the aspirations and values shown by Eleanor” at GMB Congress in June.
 
The announcement was made at a meeting on Thursday evening on the 161st anniversary of the socialist and union activist’s birth.
 
Biographer Rachel Holmes recalled the impact Ms Marx had made on culture as well as politics, saying she had acted in an early version of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.
 
Ms Holmes praised the GMB for its recent initiative to start reading groups of members. She said Britain’s cultural institutions mostly ignored the history and literature of working class women.
 
“We have literary festivals all over the country but they’re mostly full of middle-class people,” she said. 
 
Louise Raw, whose book Striking a Light explores the 1888 Bryant and May strike, said: “Stories like the matchwomen should be part of our bible.”
 
She said the working class needed to establish “our own history” especially as “we’re going back to the 19th century as fast as this government can take us”.
 
GMB organiser Nadine Houghton said the Tory anti-strike laws currently being pushed through Parliament were “an attack on all workers but will hit women the hardest”.
 
Ms Marx was active in forming the Gas Workers Union, a forerunner to the GMB, and was the youngest daughter of Communist Manifesto co-author Karl.

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