Strikes and coppers: remembering Grunwick and Orgreave

A quick plug for two (somewhat related) upcoming events:

On February 15th, there’ll be a discussion in London, on the subject of “Strikers & Spycops – From Grunwick to Now”. From the event description:

“Spycops and Strikers is part of a series of Grunwick 40 memorial events, organised in co-operation with the Special Branch Files Project, the Undercover Research Group and the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance.

Since the exposure of Mark Kennedy as an undercover officer inside the environmental movement in 2011, many more so-called #spycops have been found out by the activists they spied upon. We now know that since 1968, the Special Demonstration Squad infiltrated political and activist groups that they considered a threat, including the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, Anti-apartheid movement and CND.

We also know that prominent supporters of the Grunwick strike were bugged and followed and that there were attempts to infiltrate the strike committee. There is now a judge-led Inquiry into Undercover Policing, the Pitchford Inquiry; should Grunwick strikers and their supporters be involved to find out more?

People supporting the Grunwick Strikers remember the heavy surveillance back in the days:
Jack Dromey, secretary of Brent Trades Council at the time of the strike, recalled that:

‘I discovered after the dispute, from good policemen who talked to me in the thirty years since, that I was bugged at home, that the trades and labour hall was bugged, that there was a period that, we were followed, some of us in the dispute, and also attempts were made to infiltrate the strike committee, so there was a high degree of surveillance. It was an extraordinary period of political paranoia, the security services tended to put two and two together and make Moscow.’

In 2006 the Metropolitan Police released an inch-thick file on the Grunwick Industrial Dispute (1976-78), following a Freedom of Information request by journalist Solomon Hughes. The Met confirmed the existence of six relevant files, but decided to only disclose part of the documents. Ever since the Met have tried to bury the papers, even making previously disclosed files secret again.

What was released, is now shared at the Special Branch Files Project, a live-archive of declassified files focussing on the surveillance of political activists and campaigners.

The Grunwick files consist of a collection of Special Branch reports, police reports, and additional memoranda, documenting the policing of the Grunwick pickets, surveillance of strikers and their supporters between June and October 1977.

Join us on 15th Feb to discuss political policing and how we should respond to the Inquiry.”

About a month after that, the Orgreave Truth & Justice Campaign will be hosting their biggest public event yet, a noise demonstration at the Home Office, and transport has now been confirmed from Liverpool, Stoke, Newcastle, York, Sheffield, Barnsley, London and the South-East.

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About nothingiseverlost

"The impulse to fight against work and management is immediately collective. As we fight against the conditions of our own lives, we see that other people are doing the same. To get anywhere we have to fight side by side. We begin to break down the divisions between us and prejudices, hierarchies, and nationalisms begin to be undermined. As we build trust and solidarity, we grow more daring and combative. More becomes possible. We get more organized, more confident, more disruptive and more powerful."
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