Posts Tagged ‘cotton mill’

Bosses and Trade Unions Unite in Peace

April 1, 2008

North & South DVD Review Starring Daniela Denby-Ashe,  Richard Armitage,  Sinead Cusack  and Leslie Manville.  3 Stars

I watched an interesting DVD over the past week called “North & South”. This was formerly a 4 part TV series produced by the BBC. I’m not sure if it is available in the USA.

The story is about a woman called Margaret who is the daughter of an English Pastor. She comes from a fairly middle class traditional upbringing. Suddenly her whole family is uprooted to a more dire part of England in the town of Milton. Milton is the home of working class people who labour in a cotton mill. This occurs during the midst of the industrial revolution.

I found this drama interesting in that it explored in more detail, the relationship between the workers of the mill and their “master” or owner of the mill. At the beginning of the story it depicts the relationship as one of great animosity and distrust, even to the point of violence. This results in an attempt to form a trade union. It is led by one of the more outspoken workers in order to create a united force to barrack for fair wages.

When Margaret’s family appear on the scene, they form relationships with both opposing parties ie the workers and the factory owner. Margaret’s father for instance, begins to tutor John Thornton – the factory owner, in subjects of interest. In so doing, Margaret and her father gradually become acquainted with both sides of the worker/boss relationship.

It was interesting for me, since it helped me to see & even empathize a little more with the business operations from the view of the owner of the factory and see the challenges they face. For instance, the fact that they hold a great deal of responsibility for the livelihoods of so many of their employees, as well as the enormous risks and difficult decisions they must face.  Also it made me realize that if a company does not turn out the same amount of income each year it can become much more difficult  to keep paying workers the same or higher wages or keep the same number of workers employed. 

Even so, it is only through the influence and intervention of this strong woman Margaret, who promotes greater compassion , civil dialogue and personal interest between each of these factions that an atmosphere of peace and co-operation is eventually achieved.

I’m not sure if this story is actually true, however the film maker does try to show how understanding, compassion and a genuine interest in the other party, in the workplace, can possibly be resolved through mediators who try to promote peace instead of hatred and violence.

The film may show an idealistic situation, but I believe there are elements that viewers can indeed learn from and even perhaps apply in everyday life – like trying to see things from another perspective and exercise forgiveness and compassion.

Highly recommended viewing for those who are interested in achieving greater social justice through peaceful and humane means

By Adelle Arwen
Gospel Singer Songwriter & Recording Artist