A unique welcome to Liverpool

“Alls we want is justice. Not for us – it’s too late – but for our families, for our children, for our grandchildren and for your grandchildren,” declared Ricky Tomlinson as he opened UNISON’s national delegate conference with a typically impassioned Liverpool welcome this morning.

Welcoming delegates to his home city, the Brookside and Royle Family actor pointed out that Liverpool is 800 years old, speaks more than 80 languages and is home to the first public lending library for working class people.

But it was when he turned to his involvement in the 1972 national building strike, and his imprisonment – along with colleagues – that he lit up the hall.

In the first, and only, national builders’ strike, he recalled, the demands were simple: decent pay and health and safety, because in 1972 and ’73 “every day someone died in the building industry.”

Recent research has uncovered documents on the imprisonment of Mr Tomlinson and the other Shrewsbury pickets which show how much they were the victims of injustice.

These include a letter from the then attorney general to the home secretary, saying there were no charges for the pickets to answer – especially as at the time they were accompanied by 80 police officers.

But 15 days later, Ricky Tomlinson was charged with 21 offences – a small proportion of the more than 240 charges laid against the pickets in all.

“If that’s democracy, you can kiss my arse!” he declared. “What they done to us was disgraceful.”

Now the Justice for the Shrewsbury 24 campaign is demanding full disclosure.

After trying to get the issue raised in parliament through an early day motion and an epetition – which Downing St admitted removing 40,000 names from because they hadn’t ‘filled it in properly’.

Now the campaign hopes to get 100,000 signatures on a paper petition and march on Downing St.

He called on delegates and UNISON members to support the campaign, sign the petition and “demand the justice we should have had 40 years ago.”


The Shrewsbury 24 campaign

Shrewsbury 24 epetition