Anniversary of the 1972 dock strike

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Painting of the mass demonstration outside Pentonville prison by Dan Jones. Copyright: TUC/Dan Jones

This week marks the anniversary of the 1972 dock strike. During the strike, five dockers – Bernie Steer, Vic Turner, Derek Watkins, Cornelius Clancy and Anthony Merrick – all shop stewards of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, were arrested on the picket line, committed for contempt and put in Pentonville Prison. Thousands of workers in the docks, printing and other industries struck in protest and the TUC called for a one day national stoppage on 31 July. Had this been implemented it would have been only the second general strike in Britain’s history (following the 1926 General Strike).

A mass demonstration in support of the “Pentonville Five” took place outside the prison on 25th July, a scene captured in the above painting by the artist Dan Jones. Following the intervention of the Official Solicitor, the men were released the following day.

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