GMB union Justice campaign for Cammell Laird 37 with Giovanna Holt

We are still fighting for access to information, to this day for the Cammell Laird 37.

14 May 2021

The GMB union is still fighting for justice for the Cammell Laird 37 pickets from 1984

Giovanna Holt, GMB union North West & Irish region senior organiser, talks to Eddie Marnell from the Cammell Laird 37 campaign for justice; about progress and the next steps.

Giovanna started the Asda equal value pay claim, she is well versed in overcoming major obstacles along the campaign for justice road and been a support to Eddie over the years. Today that campaign is a national success for the GMB union and our members, proof that in solidarity we can find fairness in the workplace for all.

Picketing to save jobs, pay and better working conditions

The Cammell Laird 37 were picketing at work for better way and safer working conditions, a right we all have in the United Kingdom and a right we have to use to stop unfairness at work and unsafe working conditions. Too often companies are focussed on Profit before People, something the GMB trade union is always ready to tackle.

Eddie Marnell and the workers at Cammell Laird in 1984 found themselves in the middle of a battle with the Thatcher conservative government and the miners, he believes they were used as a warning to the miners of what was in store for them.

Eddie says, ‘’if the miners had done what we did, they would never have got them out of the pits’’.

Facing a round of 800 redundancies at Cammell Laird shipyard, the workers voted for strike action in an effort to save their jobs. This led to the occupation of a rig and frigate under construction. After four months of occupation, during which the workers and their families experienced many challenges and hardships, then having run out of water and with warnings made to them of special forces taking the installation by force, the group voted reluctantly to leave the rig.

As they were preparing to decamp, an injunction seeking removal of the occupying strikers from Cammell Laird was enforced by police who had surrounded the installations, leading to the arrest and imprisonment of all 37 workers at Walton Prison in solitary confinement for four weeks.

These trade unionists were tried and convicted in absentia, without the opportunity to defend themselves in court or a fair opportunity to clear their names. Jailed in a category A prison, HMP Walton in Liverpool.

While serving their jail time, the four Albertina brothers lost their mother. They along with their uncle were allowed out for the funeral only, set to return to jail directly after. At the same time the justice secretary, offered to release them all if they ‘’purged their contempt’’. Something all the pickets refused, including the Albertina’s refused to do.

All pickets stood together in solidarity

When they returned to jail the Albertina’s said, ‘’We came in Together, we are going out Together’’

The Cammell Laird 37 never worked at Cammell Laird shipyard ever again, they were Blacklisted. They lost their Redundancy, Pension rights and success in the Court of Appeal will give these men the remuneration they deserve.

Twelve of the thirty seven has already passed away and Eddie is desperate to find justice before any more pass on, after nearly 40 years of campaigning. They have even taken their battle to the European Parliament in despair, after having exhausted all legal and ‘Freedom of Information’ channels at national level to get access to information and justice.

The European Parliament ruled in 2014 that the British Government had no basis for the convictions, they should apologise and remunerate the 37 pickets. Nothing has been done by our government.

We are still fighting for access to information, to this day.

Eddie Marnell is grateful to the support from the GMB trade union, especially from the GMB union North West & Irish region, who have supported his campaign from the start and continue to do so today.

He believes that the Cammell Laird 37 will have a good chance at the Court of Appeal, like the Shrewsbury 24 who presented fresh evidence the Cammell Laird pickets can do the same. That is what he, with the support of the trade union, continues to fight for.

The major concern for the union, says Eddie, is the Policing Bill. That is designed by Boris Johnson and the Tory government to destroy the trade union movement. By taking away our democratic right to protest against ‘’Profit before People’’, unsafe working conditions and low pay; they will remove the very support the unions give to working people. This bill must be stopped.

The GMB union will continue the Cammell Laird 37 Fight for Justice, until we find it in the Court of Appeal.

GMB North West & Irish Region