The TUC gives its full backing to the Shrewsbury 24 campaign in its quest to right a 40-year-old wrong which – alongside the ban imposed on unions at GCHQ in the 1980s – rates as one of the worst attacks on organised workers’ rights in British history. We won’t rest until justice is done.
In the early 1970s these men experienced a grave miscarriage of justice. They were ordinary, decent men working long hours in difficult and dangerous jobs, who stood up for their rights and fought for fair pay, better safety and against the growing casualisation of the construction industry.
They stood up against a cartel of employers – who had close links with the Conservative government of the day – and then what happened? After the successful strike, the 24 were arrested and charged with conspiracy to intimidate. Most lost their livelihoods, some lost their liberty. They were all demonised.
To date a web of government secrecy surrounds the men’s attempts to get justice but the time has now come to shine a light on the truth. A recent letter to the campaign reports the decision taken in 2011 by the then Justice Secretary Ken Clarke to suppress the documents relating to the 24’s arrests for a further ten years on the grounds of national security – a rationale that would be laughable if it weren’t so offensive.
When the Coalition government was first elected, the Prime Minister made an announcement, which is still available on the Number Ten website, promising that:
‘greater transparency across government is at the heart of our commitment to enable the public to hold politicians and public bodies to account.’
With that in mind, we call on the government to hold a parliamentary inquiry, release the documents immediately and quash the convictions.
Please take a moment to help the Shrewsbury 24 campaign get enough signatures for its e-petition to secure a parliamentary debate to call for the release of the documents and allow the men to clear their names.