Unite's Len McCluskey to visit Leeds for lecture about 'hero of working people'

The boss of one of the UK’s largest trade unions is due to visit Leeds to speak at the first memorial lecture named after a leader of 19th century strikes in the city.

Len McCluskey.
Len McCluskey.

Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite, is to arrive in the city on Saturday, January 26.

He will speak at the inaugural memorial lecture for Tom Maguire and pay tribute to the man at his grave side.

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Maguire was a key figure in the development of the country’s labour movement and was the informal leader of many worker strikes that shook Leeds in the 1880s and 1890s.

A renowned poet, public speaker and trade union organiser, Maguire died from pneumonia at the age of just 29 in 1895. There is a red plaque in the socialist’s honour at Leeds Bus Station, near to where much of his activity took place.

As part of the memorial events, Mr McCluskey will be joined by Richard Burgon, Labour MP for Leeds East, at Beckett Street Cemetery to lay a wreath and say a few words at Maguire’s grave from around 11am.

Mr Burgon said: “It’s very important that we commemorate Tom Maguire. He may be relatively unknown now, but when Tom died 125 years ago, aged just 29, the people of Leeds turned out in their thousands to honour him.

Tom Maguire devoted his short life to improving the lives of the city’s working people, and played a key role in the development of the labour and trade union movement, not just in Leeds, but in the country as a whole.

Tom was a hero to the working people of Leeds and it is only right that we honour him today."

The lecture itself will take place at Chapel FM Arts Centre in York Road, Leeds, between noon at 1.30pm.

The lecture is free to attend, but people should register at www.eventbrite.co.uk