2010 Tolpuddle Martyr Award

May 1, 2010

The 2010 Tolpuddle Martyr Award was presented to Steve Holmes.

Labour Council Delegate since 1989. 
Union: Amalgamated Transit Union Local 741
             London, Ontario, Canada.
Positions Held: Local President, Operations Representative 
Union Executive Member since 1992.

Mike Parkinson (ATU 741) presents the award to Mike Holmes
Hector McLellan explains the history of the Tolpuddle Martyrs

2010 Tolpuddle Martyrs Service

As we gather here today to honour the work of Steve Holmes on behalf of workers, we should reflect on this day May 1st is of great importance to workers around the world.

Trade unions in Canada were illegal up to 1872. A protest by workers who demonstrated against the injustices’ imposed on  24 Toronto Typographical Union members who were imprisoned for fighting for a nine hour day caused the then Prime Minister Sir John A McDonald  to abolish the laws that made being a union member illegal.  

Whilst Unions were illegal in Canada at that time unions were legal in England and this is where the connection between the Tolpuddle Martyrs begins.  Although it was legal to belong to a union, trumped up charges were laid against the martyrs that to take an oath to support the cause of workers collectively, was illegal, thus the sentencing of the Martyrs to serve 7 years in a penal colony in Tasmania “Australia” 1834.

The labour movement in England demonstrated against this injustice and was successful in bringing the Marty’s back home to their home town of Tolpuddle.  Still there were those people in authority who did not want the return of the Martyrs. The Martyrs were given leased land in Essex’ England from donations collected by the union movement.  There came a time when the lease had to be renewed.  The five of the Martyrs decided to move to Canada.  It must be remembered that Union were illegal at that time in Canada.  The Martyrs made a vow not to disclose to their new found friends in Canada of their deportation to Tasmania. Still the Martyrs led successful and productive lives in London and the surrounding area as leaders within their communities.

Britain brought civilization and Law and Order to Canada  The British union movement brought Justice.

“I believe nothing will ever be done to relieve the distress of the working classes unless they take it into their own hands.  Let the producers of wealth firmly and peacefully unite their energies and what can withstand them”

George Loveless, after being pardoned and returned to England
Fred Moroz (OSSTF 11) congratulates Steve Holmes
Hector McLellan presents a book on the history of the Tolpuddle Martyrs to Steve Holmes

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