Shrewsbury 24 Campaign
This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the first-ever national building workers strike. It was successful in securing a substantial pay increase but 24 trade union members were prosecuted at Shrewsbury Crown Court. Six of them were charged with conspiracy to intimidate. One of the men that was convicted and sent to prison for two years was Ricky Tomlinson.
I speak not just for myself but also for all the pickets who were charged. Many of them never worked again due to the blacklist, in particular Des Warren who died in 2004. The prison sentences and fines we received for picketing completely wrecked our lives. The Official Shrewsbury 24 Campaign Committee have carried out extensive research into this miscarriage of justice and are confident that our application to the CCRC has a good chance of being considered favourably and referred to the Court Of Appeal, where we hope the convictions will be quashed. I thank them from the bottom of my heart for all their efforts. Please support our campaign.
The pickets have been fighting ever since to clear their names. During our research the Campaign has discovered many documents in the National Archives at Kew that have been released under the “thirty-year rule”. However, we have also found that there are a number of Government documents relating to the 1972 strike that have been withheld. The Government have used section 23 of the Freedom of Information Act to claim that these documents should not be seen on grounds of national security. We believe that these papers show the extent of the political interference into the case at the time.
We have launched two initiatives to have these documents released.
- John McDonnell MP has sponsored an Early Day Motion calling upon the Government to release the documents. It currently has 50 signatures. We would ask you to encourage MPs to sign it if they have not already done so. It can be found at: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/170
- Ricky Tomlinson has created a Downing Street e-petition for the same purpose. We would be grateful if you would publicise this and circulate it to your affiliates to encourage members to sign it. We are confident that if this is done we will reach the target of 100,000 signatures that will trigger a parliamentary debate. It can be found at: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/35394.
Fourteen national trade unions have affiliated to our campaign, as well as many individual branches and trades councils. We would ask you to affiliate to us if you have not already done so.
The Campaign can provide speakers to trade union meetings to talk about the issues surrounding the 1972 strike and the subsequent arrests and trials. We can also provide up to date information about the latest research that we have carried out and the new evidence that we have discovered. .
Full details of the campaign, including affiliation information, are on our official website: www.shrewsbury24campaign.org.uk
Ricky Tomlinson, one of the jailed pickets, has written a blog for the Stronger Unions blog, which you can read here: