BILLY Bragg, The Beat and Seth Lakeman will be among the acts providing the soundtrack to this weekend's Tolpuddle Martyrs festival.

The event gets under way tomorrow but the main day is Sunday when thousands of trade unionists join a rally to

commemorate the six farm workers transported to Australia after forming a union.

As well as speeches and debate there will be workshops, children's activities food and drink and of course live music.

George and James Loveless, Thomas and John Stanfield, James Hammett and James Brine were in 1834 found guilty of swearing an illegal oath and sent to Australia for seven years. But their real crime was to form a trade union to campaign for better wages.

They were pardoned after a mass public campaign that enshrined in law the right to join a trade union.

This weekend, people from all over the UK will celebrate that right, taking part in political debates and listening to music in the village the Martyrs called home.

Festival organiser, South West TUC Regional Secretary Nigel Costley said: “As the new government sets about dismantling our trade union rights, it’s appropriate we take inspiration from the past to help us fight for the future.

“If there’s one thing the Martyrs taught us, it’s that, no matter how long it takes, justice will be served. We shall continue to fight for workers’ rights.”

Music this year is provided by Billy Bragg, The Beat, Seth Lakeman and Thee Faction, with speakers including TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady and Labour MP Thangam Debonnaire.

There will be debates about the future of trade unions, agriculture, employment contracts, education and the EU.

Camping for the event is sold out, but day tickets will be available for the Friday and Saturday.

Sunday is free to attend.

Details of the event are available at