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Durham Miners Gala to 'demand better for our key workers' as festival returns next month after Covid pandemic hiatus - but Labour leader Keir Starmer set to miss event

Organisers of the Durham Miners Gala have promised to put key workers at the heart of celebrations when the event returns to the streets of Durham City next month.

By James Harrison
Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 12:06 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 2:05 pm

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One of the biggest summer events in the North East, representatives of trade unions from across the country will gather to celebrate the history of the labour movement.

And two “rank and file key workers” are set to be given the chance to speak from the Racecourse Ground platform to crowds, alongside union chiefs.

Banners march over Elvet Bridge at the 2019 Durham Miners Gala.

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Stephen Guy, chairman of the Durham Miners Association (DMA), which organises the Big Meeting, said: “We are proud to dedicate the 2022 Gala to our key workers and give our platform to them and their trade union leaders.

"As the pandemic showed so starkly, it is the key workers of this country that we truly need.

"They deserve much improved pay and conditions, but it is our key workers who are often bearing the brunt of the cost of living crisis.

“I urge everyone to join us in Durham to say a massive ‘thank you’ and to join with the DMA to say: ‘we demand better for our key workers’.”

Key workers from a range of sectors will also be the guests of honour of the DMA and take up a place on the balcony of the County Hotel.

Speeches on the racecourse are due to get underway from 1pm, with scheduled speakers including:

*Christina McAnea, general secretary of Unison

*Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite

*Patrick Roach, general secretary of teaching union NASUWT

*Jo Grady, general secretary of further and higher education union UCU

*DMA Secretary Alan Mardghum

Yvette Williams, founder of the Justice4Grenfell campaign has also been invited as a demonstration of the DMA’s “commitment” to the cause.

Before the pandemic, only national strikes and two world wars had prevented the Big Meeting from being held, with more than 200,000 people are expected to attend for its return.