TRADE UNION ACTION AND THE CRIMINAL LAW: THE CASE OF THE SHREWSBURY PICKETS



Turnbull, E
(2018) TRADE UNION ACTION AND THE CRIMINAL LAW: THE CASE OF THE SHREWSBURY PICKETS. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Abstract

The imprisonment of trade unionists in the United Kingdom for events occurring during strikes has been a rare occurrence, particularly over the past three decades when strikes have declined to an all-time low. The trials and convictions of a group of North Wales building workers in 1973-74 for picketing-related offences during the first and only UK national building workers strike raises important issues for all those engaged in challenging the politics and effects of austerity and neo-liberalism. This thesis is an analysis of the case of the 'Shrewsbury 24', using newly-available documents that have been located during the research. It illustrates how the state used the criminal justice system in an attempt to curtail effective picketing by workers during industrial disputes. Draconian prison sentences were handed down to six of the pickets to send a signal to the trade union and labour movement that the government were prepared to use the courts to deter mass picketing. The thesis explores the laws that were used against the pickets and the enormous discretion available to the police and prosecutors in deciding whether and what to charge at any given time. It illuminates the landscape of hidden dangers posed by the criminal law, which can be used arbitrarily against trade unionists and campaigners who organise or participate in direct action. Using a Marxist theoretical approach, including Gramsci's concept of hegemony, this thesis explores the role of the state and of ideology in criminalising trade unionists. The thesis, through an examination of theories of miscarriages of justice, concludes that by locating the convictions of the pickets within a class-based framework the political character of miscarriages of justice is revealed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Divisions: Fac of Humanities & Social Sci > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 08 Aug 2018 09:38
Last Modified: 12 Nov 2019 16:19
URI: http://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3018261
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