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Ben Tillett (1860-1943)

Ben Tillett (1860-1943) took miscellaneous jobs in the Bristol area, including circus work, before becoming a seaman and travelling the world. In 1880, he settled in London, working in tea warehouses along the River Thames, and formed in 1887 the Tea Operatives' and General Labourers' Association. When this union took strike action on 14 August 1889, they were joined by the stronger Stevedores' Unions and given organisational and propagandist support by many of London's well-known socialists. The strike brought Tillett national recognition - not only did he play a continuous role in negotiations, but also shared responsibility with John Burns and Tom Mann for public speaking and organising pickets. When the strike ended on 16 September the Tea Operatives Union was reorganised to become the Dock, Wharf, Riverside and General Labourers' Union and Tillett remained as General Secretary until 1922 when the union was merged into the Transport and General Workers' Union. He was an MP 1917-1924 and 1929-31.

Title Ben Tillett (1860-1943)
Maker --
Production Date 1889
Format Photograph
Copyright --
Holding Institution TUC Library Collections, London Metropolitan University
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