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News > Vic Turner will go down in history as a fearless, working class hero


Vic Turner lived and breathed trade unionism, everyday of his working life

3rd January 2013

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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 be called.

The Government, in retreat, wheeled out an obscure civil service officer - the Official Solicitor - who released the imprisoned dockers.

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 out.

That's a lesson we should learn today.

Vic will go down in history as a fearless, working class hero.

It was a pleasure knowing him.

The funeral is on the 18th January at 2.45 at the City of London crematorium.

Bob Crow
Campaign for Trade Union Freedom


United Campaign, 39 Chalton Street, London, NW1 1JD | info@unitedcampaign.org.uk | 0151 207 5264