Tag Archives: strike

The Shrewsbury 24 call for government to clear their names

23 Jan
The Shrewsbury 24

The Shrewsbury 24

Ricky Tomlinson, along with 23 other building workers who were imprisoned for picketing following the 1972 building workers strike, is calling for the Government to lift the veil of secrecy over prosecutions.

In a press conference at the House of Commons today, Ricky and fellow former pickets will be speaking along with General Secretaries, Frances O’Grady (TUC), Len McCluskey (Unite) and Steve Murphy (UCATT), MPs Tom Watson, Steve Rotheram and David Hanson, and film director Ken Loach. John McDonnell MP will be chairing the conference.

The conference comes as the Shrewsbury 24 step up their campaign to clear their names following the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling’s refusal to release documents relating to the 1972 Shrewsbury trials. Grayling recently informed the pickets that the documents will be withheld from public scrutiny for another 10 years, and the ban will not be reviewed until 2021. His reason? Grayling cites ‘national security’, holding the documents under Section 23 of the Freedom of Information Act.

Ricky Tomlinson, speaking on behalf of himself and his fellow pickets, says:

Ricky Tomlinson

Ricky Tomlinson

 “We were building workers who were trying to get decent wages and working conditions. What’s that got to do with ‘national security’? We were convicted for conspiracy in 1972. We knew we were innocent. The government continue to throw a security blanket over what really happened during the 1972 dispute and the role of the security forces. We believe that the prosecutions were directed by the government.”

The Shrewsbury 24 case began following the major construction strike in 1972, when construction workers faced hostile and powerful employers, lump labour, and isolated workplaces that changed constantly whenever a contract finished. The building workers’ unions organised the first ever national strike in their industry. Due to the nature of the industry, the strike involved the use of picketing of building sites that were spread throughout the country. At the end of the twelve-week dispute, in September 1972, they succeeded in winning the highest ever pay rise in the history of the industry.

Five months after the strike ended, 24 pickets, who had travelled down from North Wales to picket at a site in Shrewsbury, were picked up and charged with over 200 offences including unlawful assembly, intimidation and affray. Six of the pickets were also charged with conspiracy to intimidate. None of the pickets had been cautioned or arrested during the strike. Approximately 70 police had accompanied the pickets on the Shrewsbury building sites at all times. No complaints were laid against the pickets at the time.

At the first Shrewsbury trial three of the pickets were prosecuted and found guilty of conspiracy to intimidate, unlawful assembly and affray. They were sent to prison: Des Warren was sentenced to three years on each charge, Ricky Tomlinson was sentenced to two years on each charge and John McKinsie Jones was sentenced to nine months on each charge, all sentences to run concurrently.

Jailing these building workers remains one of the most notorious acts of the state in recent times. All the might of the police and judiciary were used to stop trade unionists from organising effectively. The Government has used section 23 of the Official Secrets Act to prevent the pickets from gaining access to papers that show the extent of the campaign to send them to prison.

The Shrewsbury 24 Campaign was established in 2006. Their aim is to overturn this miscarriage of justice. All power to them.

To support the Shrewsbury 24, please sign the e-petition calling for the full disclosure of all Government documents relating to the 1972 building workers strike and the conspiracy trials at Shrewsbury.

Remploy workers strike in protest at ‘hard-hearted’ government throwing them on the dole

19 Jul

Remploy protestRemploy workers faced with the dole queue are on strike today in protest at the actions of “a hard-hearted government hell bent on throwing them on the dole queue.”

Workers at the 54 factories – 27 of which face the axe – will carry on the fight to save their jobs with a 24-hour strike, spurred on by more than 7,500 individual messages of support. Each factory will receive a giant card with a selection of messages by tomorrow.

Last week, the government announced that the 27 factories will close by the end of the year throwing about 1,700 disabled workers out-of-work. A further nine factories face an uncertain future. The remaining 18 sites are due to close or be sold-off next year.

Unite called on the Westminster government to follow the example of the Welsh government which has pledged £2.4 million for employers who give jobs to Remploy workers when the factories in Wales close.

Unite’s national officer for the not-for-profit sector Sally Kosky said: “We are expecting the vast majority of the workforce across the 54 factories to strike tomorrow.

“They are rightly angry that they face a bleak future on the dole, as it is always more difficult for those with disabilities to obtain employment.

“Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith should take a lesson from the Cardiff government which has shown compassion and practical financial help to keep Remploy workers in jobs for at least four years.”

Remploy workers will strike again next Thursday (26 July) for 24-hours.

GMB national secretary Phil Davies said: “Iain Duncan Smith is systematically destroying lives by his hard-hearted actions. We will continue our campaign by all means at our disposal to reverse this pernicious decision.”

It is understood that an offer from the private sector to take over the Wrexham factory was turned down without consideration by the government – Unite said that this demonstrated that ministers were “hell bent on dismantling the 67-year history of Remploy for purely ideological reasons.”

The workers voted to strike because they believe the proposed closure negotiations were ‘a sham’; in protest at the intention to make disabled people compulsorily redundant for the first time at Remploy; and that the redundancy pay will be less than previous voluntary redundancies.

Unite and the GMB unions have been campaigning to keep the Remploy factories open as viable businesses and cite the recent upbeat assessment of Remploy’s future prospects from Alan Hill, Managing Director, Remploy Enterprise Businesses who wrote that: “We have grown our sales by 12.2 per cent, a fantastic achievement.”

The closure of the Remploy factories is a callous and self-defeating move by Iain Duncan-Smith. At a time when the jobs market is already hugely competitive, he is choosing to sack 1,700 people who will arguably find it even more difficult to find employment.

Please show your support for Remploy workers here.

TFL bosses to get £80,000 Olympic bonuses

10 Jun

Fair Play for Bus Pay

by Amy Jackson

Unite the Union has accused Transport for London of ‘ barefaced hypocrisy’, following revelations that senior TfL executives are in line to earn Olympic bonuses 160 times more than the award bus workers are demanding.

According to TfL’s unaudited annual report, the  top seven staff at the organisation are in line to cash in on two years of annual bonuses worth £560,000 which equates to £80,000 each if the system runs smoothly during the Olympic Games.

Leon Daniels, TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, who earns a basic salary of £234,000, condemned bus workers whose average salary is £26,000, for asking for an Olympic award. Meanwhile, Mr Daniels himself will be one of the seven managers to receive the £80,000 bonus.

Bus workers are asking for an Olympic award in line with what every other London transport worker will get for the massive increase in workload during the Games. Unite has been urging TfL to intervene since September 2011 to persuade  London’s bus operators to meet with Unite. In line with Boris Johnson’s rule of non-negotiation with trade unions, TfL has refused at every turn to help resolve this dispute. In a clear sign that bus workers patience has run out, they have voted by 94 per cent for industrial action.

Peter Kavanagh, Unite regional secretary for London, said: “This is barefaced hypocrisy of the highest order. TfL chiefs on six figure salaries are in line to earn Olympic bonuses worth 160 times more than bus workers are asking for.

“These revelations will infuriate our members and serve to strengthen their resolve to fight for fairness.

“TfL has done nothing to help get the bus companies around the table to resolve this dispute. Since September last year TfL has consistently refused to get involved. All TfL can do is condemn workers asking for a fair award for the massive increase in workload that they will face during this historic occasion.

“There is no doubt that with the huge numbers of extra passengers and major congestion on London’s roads, bus workers will be on the front line ensuring London runs smoothly during the Olympics.

“TfL’s  approach to this dispute is a dereliction of duty to London, it is time TfL acted responsibly.”

For 2010/11 revenue for TfL from the buses was £1.3 billion, an 8 per cent year on year increase. Bus workers have endured pay freezes and below inflation increases over the last few years.

Following the strike ballot result, Unite has given the bus companies a final opportunity to reconsider their refusal to pay bus workers a bonus. If the dispute is not resolved, strike dates will be announced early this week – not what London needs in the run up to its big Olympic party.

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