SHREWSBURY 24 CAMPAIGN – OVERTURNING A MISCARRAIGE OF JUSTICE
In 1972 construction workers faced hostile and powerful employers, lump labour and isolated workplaces that changed
constantly whenever a contract finished. Health and safety measures on building sites were non existent
building workers faced dangerous working conditions on a daily basis. UCATT, theT&GWU, FTAT and the NUG&MW, were the main unions who had members in the industry. The building workers irrespective of which union or trade they were in organised effective picketing of sites 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 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 on 6th September 1972. There were no police complaints laid against the pickets at the time. At the first Shrewsbury trial, beginning in October 1973, three of the pickets were found guilty of conspiracy to intimidate, unlawful assembly and affray. They were sent to prison: Des Warren for three years, Ricky Tomlinson for two years and John McKinsie Jones for nine months. Jailing these building workers remains one of the most notorious anti-trade union acts of the state in recent times. All the might of the police and criminal justice system were used against the pickets to deter trade unionists from organising effectively. The convicted Shrewsbury pickets were blacklisted from the industry and most were never able to work in their trade again.
The Branch is delighted to announce that Terry Renshaw who is a convicted picket will address the AGM. Terry is an excellent speaker and will provide the meeting with an up to date briefing as to the position of the campaign. It is expected that Criminal Cases Review Commission will report by March 2016.