Page 3, 12th August 1977

12th August 1977
Page 3
Page 3, 12th August 1977 — George Ward replies to MP on Grunwick

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George Ward replies to MP on Grunwick

In the course of his inaccurate and naively one-sided diatribe, Mr Kevin McNamara has the gall to suggest that I should be sent the social encyclicals of some of our sovereign pontiffs. Mr McNamara MP stands in greater need of theological revision than I do.

If he would care to examine not merely the social encyclicals of our sovereign pontiffs but also their other statements that touch upon social and political issues Mr McNamara MP might well be brought to contemplate how far the causes that he chooses to espouse can be squared with his faith. Catholicism cannot be reconciled with atheistic Marxism.

Mr McNamara should know that the dominant factors behind this dispute are Marxist inspired. This is not the accusation of some blindly prejudiced employer I might add. Let Mr McNamara MP test the matter for himself.

Let him also appear in front of the extremists involved in this dispute and read "The social encyclicals of some of our sovereign pontiffs" to them. After the exceedingly dusty reception that this "social fascist propaganda" would receive let Mr McNamara admit that he is deceiving himself if he thinks that Catholic social teaching reflects the views of these extremists.

In my opinion he perceives no distinction between the doctrines of our Church and the interests of its enemies. At least he might spare the rest of us the intellectual contortions needed to perform this exercise,

Whether by accident or design — and in view of Mr McNamara's piety I am prepared to accept the former explanation — he does not manage to get a single important fact about Grunwick right.

That workers had to hold up their hands to seek permission to go to the lavatory is, of course, totally untrue. It is such an obvious piece of groundless propaganda that one might suspect that Mr McNamara had read similar accusations attached to different disputes in the pages of Pravda.

He quotes the then minimum basic starting rate of £28 for beginners, including school leavers for a 40-hour week as an example of low wage structure. He omits to mention that the majority of our employees earned wages far in excess of this figure. Nor is it true that those dismissed by my company were sacked because they joined a Trade Union. Mr McNamara makes that accusation twice, presumably believing that repetition adds emphasis. Ifwhat he says was true, then the Industrial Tribunal would have awarded those dismissed their jobs back. In fact, after a lengthy hearing, the Industrial Tribunal unanimously decided that the dismissals were not unfair.

Grunwick dismissed those who walked off the job. The dismissal was for that reason and no other. I have said many times and I repeat again now, that I am not anti-Trade Union. Mr McNamara will doubtless be surprised to learn that some of those who have supported me most staunchly in this dispute are themselves loyal trade-unionists.

Unlike Mr McNamara, they do not approve of certain modern methods of conducting labour disputes, which depart from the traditional principles of trade-unionism, but owe their popularity to the belief that employers will always surrender to coercion.

Mr McNamara has nothing to say on that subject, though as he may well discover when he next runs for election, that most British people believe this is our greatest national problem.

The meanest of Mr McNamara's accusations is that 1 exploit immigrant labour. He is careful not to mention that I myself am an immigrant. Nor does he offer any explanation of why those who have been exploited and "humiliated" by Grunwick are so anxious to be re-employed by the company. But if Mr McNamara had asked to come and visit the Grunwick work-force, he could have tested for himself, not merely the conditions under which immigrants work (and native born citizens too, for Grunwick employs a large number of them) but also the reasons why these workers have for so long and so heroically withstood the bully-boy tactics of the extremists.

Mr McNamara's outlook is easy to understand but it has little to do with Christianity in this issue. He loves the big battalions who are happy to keep him in his job. Unless he sees no faults in trade unions and never contemplates whether the Labour movement now believes or practises what he preached when he joined it he would lose their support. This is why our country faces so many problems. Although myself a Catholic, I have always acknowledged that Catholics could differ from each other on certain social and political matters and I see nothing that has been done at Grunwick which conflicts with Catholic social teaching. But I suspect that this tolerance displea ,es Mr McNamara. He seems to want the Church to underwrite his prejudices. In George Orwell's 1984', O'Brien insisted that it was not enough to fear Big Brother; one must love him as well, Mr McNamara is not content to have his picketline. He appears to insist that we should treat it as a charity and an emanation of the Will of God.

For my part I am grateful that many Catholics have more vision and a greater regard for objectivity and truth, than arc dreamt of in Mr McNamara's philosophy.

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