This weekend trade unionists from across the country will be gathering in Tower Hamlets to mark the 40th anniversary of the release of the ‘Pentonville 5’ – the five London dockers sent to jail for picketing in 1972. Edward Heath’s Conservative Government had introduced a new Industrial Relations Act, designed to stop working people from expressing solidarity with one another. The Pentonville 5, along with trade unionists up and down the country helped defeat that legislation, and the role of the miners in helping to do that was never forgotten or forgiven by Margaret Thatcher when she came to power. The rest, as they say, is history.
The arrest and jailing of the five shop stewards lead to an unofficial wave of work stoppages which culminated in a one day national strike. The dockers were released within a week to great scenes of celebration. Many of you will remember the huge solidarity demonstration that also took place outside the Tower of London with the banner of the Royal Docks Shop Stewards Committee taking pride of place. It read simply; ‘Arise Ye Workers!’
The event was a seminal moment in the history of British trade unionism in demonstrating the power of the trade unions to overturn anti-union laws.
Tomorrow’s commemoration takes place at from 2pm at The Boat House, Ferry Street, Isle of Dogs, London, E14 3DT opposite Island Gardens DLR station and features a key note address from Len McCluskey, Unite General Secretary, workshops, and a social in the evening. It promises to be a very uplifting and memorable event, and is open for local residents.