By Bob Crow, President
of Campaign for Trade Union Freedom
Vick Turner lived and breathed trade unionism, everyday of
his working life.
I had the pleasure of working with Vic when he became the
first - and only - President of the United Campaign for the
Repeal of Anti Trade Union Laws, in 1998.
Vic was an obvious choice for President. It was Vic and 4
others who became known as the Pentonville 5. Together they
proved what you can do if you stand together.
The mighty TGWU Shop Steward Committee of the London Docks
discovered that an anti trade union container company at Chobham
Farm, in Stratford, East London, was about to undermine the
TGWU's Agreements with the National Docks and Labour Board.
The 5 shop stewards picketed the Farm. The company took
out an injunction but the 5 took no notice of the law and
continued their picket.
A Contempt of Court Order was granted. The police set about
finding the pickets, looking high and low, until they found
the majority of them in the Railway Tavern pub at Stratford.
The 5 were sent to Pentonville prison. Bur the late, great,
TGWU leader, Jack Jones, demanded their release and called
for a special TUC General Council meeting.
A demonstration was called for the release of the Pentonville
5 and workers from all industries walked out to attend.
The General Council issued a statement saying that unless
the dockers were released, a one day general strike would
The Government, in retreat, wheeled out an obscure civil
service officer - the Official Solicitor - who released the
Vic Turner was carried out of the prison gates on dockers'
shoulders. He said it was politics that put the Pentonville
5 in prison but it was the trade union movement that got them
That's a lesson we should learn today.
Vic will go down in history as a fearless, working class
It was a pleasure knowing him.
The funeral is on the 18th January at 2.45 at the City
of London crematorium.
Campaign for Trade Union Freedom