The annual Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival will see trade unionists gather to celebrate the labour movement and the sacrifice of the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs were a group of 19th century agricultural labourers who were charged with swearing a secret oath. Fighting three years of pay cuts and a weekly wage of just six shillings, Dorset farm labourer, George Loveless and his five colleagues took a secret oath to form one of the earliest trade unions.

There was a huge uprising from working class people when the six men were convicted and sentenced to penal transportation to Australia. A petition signed by 800,000 people was delivered to Parliament and, after three years of campaigning, the six men returned with full pardons.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival is an annual festival held in the village of Tolpuddle, Dorset. Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary and Steve Turner, Unite the Union Assistant General Secretary, will speak at this year’s festival which takes place on 17 - 19 July.

Head of policy at Thompsons Solicitors, Tom Jones said: “During the Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival, we remember the sacrifice of the six men who were successful in forming one of the earliest trade unions in the UK, fighting unfair working conditions and poor pay.

“The Tolpuddle Martyrs’ struggle is one which still resonates today and at Thompsons we are proud to work closely with our trade union partners and the labour movement to support working people.”