The employment tribunal that heard the case admitted that Jerry was sacked “probably on trade union grounds”, and advised that he should be re-instated. RR ignored this decision (and the law does not oblige them to implement it). As Jerry pointed out, all the charges relate to him basically being an active trade unionist, and to some extent are at the core of what a trade unionists do – organize industrial action when disputes cannot be resolved in other ways. The idea that an action is official or unofficial is the product of many years of anti-union laws that limit the ability of working people to effectively organize. Despite these laws being passed under the conservative government, they have survived two labor government terms – which makes them now “labour's anti-union laws”.
As a result of Jerry's dismissal, there has been a ballot and indefinite strike action will be taken, starting on August 22nd, until he is fully re-instated. A rallie has also been called in Bristol for the Friday 2nd September (coaches from Cambridge should be available).
The question of the opposition to the arms trade was raised by a question in the audience: how is it possible for anti-war and anti-arms trade activists to support workers in the industry that is feeding both (both RR and Marshall's are after all making their money by selling weapons). Jerry's response was quite clear: he recognized that is is working on the wrong side, yet people work for a living – they are forced to work, often in conditions and making things they do not agree with. He said “I would rather be making hospital equipment”, and stated his opposition to the war. Yet at the same time having organized unions working in these industries gives people more power – since they are in a privileged position to throw their wrenches in the gears of the war machine, and capitalism in general. Members of the audience also reminded us how the issue of “arm conversion”, or generally social utility of production, was in the agenda in the 70s – it is about time it comes back on it!
Meeting photos + call:
Previously in the news and related:
CAAT RR brief