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GMB Eleanor Marx House Opened

Monday, December 15, 2014


GMB New Reading Office Named 'Eleanor Marx House' At Formal Opening Ceremony On 15th December

On 1st December the union celebrated its 125th anniversary and the naming of the GMB Reading Office to Eleanor Marx is part of these celebrations says GMB.

The new GMB office in Reading was today named the 'Eleanor Marx House' by Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, and Rachel Holmes, author of the new biography of Eleanor Marx, at the formal opening of the office opened in September. See notes to editors for copy of the then GMB press release.

Eleanor Marx (1855 to 1898), the youngest daughter of Karl Marx and a socialist activist played a leading and crucial role in founding the Gas and General Workers union in 1889. GMB, with more than 634,000 members in Britain and Ireland, is the direct successor to the Gas Workers & General Union on 31 March 1889 in Beckton gas works in East London by Will Thorne. The union spread like wild fire across Britain and Ireland after it liberated gas workers from the unrelenting toil of six 12-hour days a week by winning a working day of eight hours. Eleanor was elected to the Executive of the union at the 2nd Congress in Dublin in 1891.

Rachel Holmes, Author of recent Eleanor Marx biography said, "This is a fitting tribute to the legacy of Eleanor Marx as co-founder and leader of the mighty Gasworkers union. Eleanor Marx was a first generation immigrant to Britain and the mother of internationalist socialist-feminism. This is a timely reminder of the absolute, urgent necessity for gender equity and the eradication of sexism, racism and nationalism from all aspects of our politics and society. Eleanor would be delighted that the TUC now has it's first woman General Secretary and would urge all trade union members - women and men - to actively support and work together towards Frances O'Grady's call for women and sexual equality to be at the forefront in every aspect of our trade union organisation and campaigns for social and economic justice. In the words of Eleanor's favourite motto, 'Go ahead!'

Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary said “On 1st December GMB formally celebrated its 125th anniversary in its birth place, Newham London. This naming of the new GMB Reading Office as 'Eleanor Marx House' is part of those 125th anniversary celebrations.

Eleanor was a crucial, if partly forgotten, figure in establishing our union with its major commitment to economic and social justice. It is only right and proper that her name is known to a new generation, and naming this building in her memory should serve to do that. I would also urge people to read the excellent biograph released earlier this year.”

Kevin Brandstatter GMB Senior Organsier siad, "At the Tolpuddle Festival this year, one of the sessions was presented by Rachel Holmes, who wrote a biography of Eleanor Marx.  It struck me some time later, that a fitting tribute to someone who was so important the early years of the Gasworkers Union, would be to name the new GMB office after her.  As far as I am aware this is the first GMB building named in honour of a woman and it reflects the evolution of GMB from a male dominated manual workers union, to a union which has a substantial number of women activists and officers, and a long standing woman president in Mary Turner.

The new GMB office will not just be an administrative office, it will be an organising centre for the town of Reading and the surrounding districts. This is be a fitting tribute to Eleanor's legacy."

Contact: Kevin Brandstatter, GMB Senior Organiser on 07813 207374 or Michelle Gordon, GMB Press Officer on 07866 369259 or GMB Press Office on 07921 289880 or 07974 251823.

Notes to Editors:

1          Eleanor Marx: A Life by Rachel Holmes from Bloomsbury Books

2          GMB press release of September 2014


Union has members employed by local councils, schools and academies, hospitals and care homes, utilities Thames Water and British Gas, retailers ASDA and Wilkinson Stores, Environment Agency, AA, security and construction firms and many others says GMB

From Monday, 22nd September 2014 GMB is re-organizing the way the union looks after members in M4 corridor with the opening of a new office in Reading. This office will be located at Unit 2, Richfield Place, 12 Richfield Avenue, Reading, RG1 8EQ. The telephone number is 0118 9 507776.
As part of this re-organization the Basingstoke office will close from the same date.

Kevin Brandstatter, GMB Regional Officer said "GMB has had a proud history in Reading going back to the days of the original gas workers union and the biscuit makers, Huntley and Palmer. We want to build on this history for the future.

GMB is one of the fastest growing unions in the country and our membership in Reading and the surrounding counties is growing substantially. This reorganization will help us continue with this success.

GMB is a general workers union in both the public and private sectors. We have a substantial membership in leading employers in Reading and eastern end of the M4 corridor  such as local councils, schools and academies, hospitals and care homes, utilities such as Thames Water and British Gas, retailers such as ASDA and Wilkinson Stores and many others like AA,
security and construction firms etc.

One large and high profile group of members are the residential lock and weir keepers on the River Thames employed by the Environment Agency. During the floods earlier this year GMB contested the plan to end residential lock keeping due to Government cuts because this increases the risk of flooding and is a serious threat to the safety of river users. The fight to stop
these cuts continues.

GMB has legal action underway in the High Court seeking compensation for union members blacklisted by construction firms with a further hearing in November. Of the 3,213 workers blacklisted 10 are known to be from Reading, Basingstoke and other parts of Berkshire.

Recently GMB has established a new branch for Reading and the surrounding district. GMB has entered into a sponsorship arrangement with Reading Town FC one of the local community football clubs with a ground and club house at Scours Lane. The new office is the final piece of the jigsaw."


Contact: Kevin Brandstatter 07813 207374 or 0118 9 507776 or Michelle Gordon 07866 369259 or 0208 397 8881 or GMB press office 07921 289880.



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