Seventy pickets were arrested and 30 people taken to hospital on Monday (11 July) as 18,000 workers mounted a "day of solidarity" over a North London factory dispute.
Seventy pickets were arrested and 30 people taken to hospital on Monday (11 July) as 18,000 workers mounted a "day of solidarity" over a North London factory dispute. The scene of violence were among the worst so far in the narrow streets outside the Grunwick film processing laboratory which has been in dispute over union recognition for 11 months. Eighteen policemen were among those taken to hospital in ambulances which had to push their way through surging crowds of police and pickets. Five policemen were detained in hospital.
A verdict is expected from the Lord Chief Justice tomorrow (12 July) on a case brought by Grunwick managing Director George Ward. Mr. War is contesting a recommendation by the government's conciliation service that he should recognise a union.
SYNOPSIS: The solidarity march was intended by the picket organisers to be far the biggest display of workers' strength to date in the dispute. Grunwick's management refuses to recognise a union and the factory has become a symbolic focal point of British right-left rivalries. The day's events began when trade unionists carrying placards and banners and shouting slogans arrived at the factory. Among other things, they were chanting "workers united will never be defeated."
About 4,000 unarmed police, nearly a fifty of the capital's uniformed strength, turned out to keep the marchers under control. Some officers were on horses. Demonstrators pushed police who were trying to block a road.
As soon as the demonstrators left, a double-decker worker bus entered the factory, carrying most of the 130 workers not on strike.
For left wingers the arrival of the works buses was greeted with booing and cries of "blacklegs".
Police made arrests of people who allegedly went beyond the limits of peaceful picketing allowed under the British law. The police say their duty is to uphold the right of employees who want to work, while at the same time allow peaceful picketing. Violence flared as the police arrested demonstrators. At one point 36 mounted police were brought up to confront the agitators who chanted "Here come the Cossacks".
About 30 Left-wing Members of Parliament of the ruling Labour party joined in the march, which passed off quietly, after scenes of violence at Grunwick. It was led from the factory by the Yorkshire coalminers left wing leader Arthur Scargill, who is one of the 300 whose been arrested during picketing in the last six weeks. While the dispute continued, a High Court judge appointed by Prime Minister James Callaghan was taking evidence from former Grunwick workers about pay, conditions and overtime.