Keith Narey Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Keith Narey

Dyers and Bleachers

Defend the closed shop

(May 1979)

From Militant, No. 456, 18 May 1979, p. 14.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Conference meets at a time when Thatcher’s reactionary Tory government is threatening the right to picket, the right to a closed shop, and for some workers even the right to strike.

The recent case involving the Dyers and Bleachers and Joe Thompson has been used by the Tories and their friends in the press as an example of the evils of trade unionism and particularly the closed shop.

The silence of the union leadership, who passed responsibility to the TUC, has only given encouragement to the Tory MPs who are backing Thompson.

The membership have a right to a clear explanation. The decision to restore Thompson’s union card goes against the decision of the conference in 1976 not to lift the blacking of Denby’s.

The executive have a clear duty to carry out conference decisions, not refer them to other bodies for action.

The Dyers and Bleachers have one of the longest and proudest democratic traditions of trade unions anywhere.

It was they who won the fight for the nine-hour day in Bradford nearly one hundred years ago, as well as securing a minimum wage and establishing the practice of union control over the employment of new labour.

All the improvements in conditions, however, do not compensate for the scandalously low wage levels in the industry or the long hours of overtime and anti-social shifts.

In unison with the rest of the labour and trade union movement, the union will have to fight to defend the gains of the past, and to challenge the threatened redundancies.

The incoming General Secretary, Bill Maddocks, is regarded as a militant trade unionist and socialist.

If we are to be successful in the coming struggles with the employers, backed by the Tory government, the entire membership will need to rally around a fighting leadership.

Keith Narey Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 29 August 2016