- Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing – an opportunity for justice or potential cover up?
Below are various press articles and comments from blacklisted workers, unions and other victims of undercover political policing in response to the start of the Pitchford inquiry
Below is the initial response from Blacklist Support Group:
“The opening remarks from Lord Justice Pitchford is a now available on the website especially set up for the public inquiry. The public inquiry is of course to be welcomed and hopefully will uncover the truth behind some of the most shameful elements of British secret state operations against its own citizens. However Pitchford’s remarks and the Terms of Reference published by Teresa May, leave cause for concern.
- Spying on trade unions and proven police collusion in blacklisting is not mentioned once. Although social justice campaigns are included. We will need to argue that trade unions fall into this category.
- The document stresses that only covert spying by police will be investigated. This leaves a huge gaping hole in the area of corporate spying on activists. The state is not neutral but is always on the side of big business against trade unions. Police and corporate surveillance are completely intertwined with sharing of intelligence standard operating procedure. Some state spying may have actually been out-sourced to private companies. Is this going to be off limits? Will blacklisting fall through the net?
- ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ has been the response from the police to every attempt to pry open their dirty secrets. In addition they have refused to disclose evidence on the same basis claiming ‘national security’ or ‘ongoing investigations’ as the reasons. Continued use of this position by the police would make the entire inquiry a farce. Pitchford makes no mention of this but does talk about having to hear some evidence in secret and keeping identity confidential. Clarity on this issue is essential.
- Immunity from prosecution under the Official Secrets Act for whistleblowers will be crucial if the true extent of police operations are to be fully investigated. Without this, the inquiry is going nowhere. Pitchford does mention evidence given not being used to bring subsequent criminal charges – but this could apply to undercover officers who were involved in serious criminal activity such as sexual assault, arson or terrorism. It is not clear at all from the documentation so far released whether Peter Francis, the primary whistleblower will be protected.
- The Child Sex Abuse inquiry has set up a panel to hear and assess the evidence. The final report will be a collective response. In addition, an advisory panel made up of victims of abuse has also been established to assist in guiding the direction of the inquiry. No such equivalent structures have even been mooted by the Home Office or Pitchford. With the full PR machinery of the state at the disposal of the police, it is easy to see how the inquiry may cover areas which paint the police in a good light but completely ignore other areas.
- For the Pitchford inquiry to have any credibility, it will need to leave no stone unturned. There will be a period of lobbying and submissions by lawyers in the next few months. BSG and unions will be directly involved in that process. Which direction Pitchford will take is far from certain. One path may lead to groundbreaking insights into the anti-democratic operations of the secret state. A different path could result in another good old fashioned establishment cover up”.
- High Court orders Blacklisting firms to disclose evidence (previously hidden)
We also name the senior managers actively involved in blacklisting union members in the building industry. Many of these wretches have now moved to top HR jobs in the NHS, Universities, Lottery, Jockey Club and the off-shore sector. Do you recognise any of the names?
- VICTORY – sacked UNITE rep reinstated after direct action picket line
Graeme Boxall, the UNITE shop steward sacked at the Morgan Stanley HQ in Canary Wharf on Friday has been re-employed. Graeme was dismissed immediately after he requested direct employment for the electricians he represents but following a picket line this morning, negotiations took place between UNITE official Guy Langston and Lee Crompton Phoenix Managing Director. The outcome was that the sacked steward is now re-employed and the union will participate in continuing talks with the company about the direct employment issue.
Police threatened to arrest pickets and managers tried to intimidate the pickets by waving paperwork in front of them saying, “you are on private property and this is document is a High Court injunction which bans this protest”
The rank and file sparks reply was, “so what?”
Following the successful re-employment, protests have now been suspended to allow the union to negotiate the outstanding issues. Graeme Boxall commented: “I would like to say a massive ‘Thank You’ to all those who came down to support me today. I would especially like to thank the vast majority of construction workers on site who showed such solidarity by respecting the picket line, despite all the intimidation from the police and senior managers. Millions of workers are being denied their basic employment rights by the use of zero hours contracts, employment agencies and umbrella scams. But we don’t have to passively accept these abuses. Today has proved that if we fight back, we can win”.
- Pay The Rate – Teesside Construction Activists
The ongoing 16 week dispute in Redcar, Teesside is going to kick off big time. The national collective bargaining agreement is being ignored by major companies on the site who are exploiting workers by paying them less than the nationally agreed rates of pay, lodge and travel. We are not prepared to see any workers exploited, whether they are from Canterbury or Croatia.
This could spread like wildfire into a national wildcat strike. COBRA will have to meet if workers on power stations across the country follow the lead of the Teesside construction activists.
Reel News produce the first major video of the dispute: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgbSOxf4gTE
If you want to show solidarity – contact Teesside construction Activists via FB: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Teesside-Construction-Activists/429641457200160?fref=nf
- Blacklisting in the Labour Party leadership election
Jeremy Corbyn’s official flyer for the Labour Party leadership election (attached) specifically calls for compensation for the thousands of blacklisted workers and a full transparent public inquiry.
The flyer also calls for justice on Orgreave & Shrewsbury Pickets. For a number of years, Jeremy Corbyn attended Blacklist Support Group events in his own Islington constituency and in parliament. If any of the other candidates have official flyers that support blacklisted workers, we will be very interested in seeing them.
- Reel News
Everyone involved in Reel News deserves an award for all the hard work they are putting in to tell the stories the mainstream media are ignoring. We could not do what we do without the work they do – they are an integral part of the rank and file blacklisting campaign. Please get your union branch to subscribe or make a sizable donation to keep this essential trade union based indymedia collective afloat.
- Happy holidays – enjoy the sunshine
Blacklist Support Group