Page 1, 2nd November 1951

2nd November 1951
Page 1
Page 1, 2nd November 1951 — PENALISED UNION MEN WIN CASE
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PENALISED UNION MEN WIN CASE

By DOUGLAS HYDE

A LAW case of considerable interest to Catholic trade unionists and others engaged in attempting to counter the activities of the Communists in the trade unions ended last Tuesday in victory for seven men who brought a case against the Communistdominated Electrical Trade Union.

All seven were members of the E.T.U. and had refused to take part in an unofficial strike early this year which began when electricians employed at Bethnal Green by the 1.ondon Electricity

Board struck in support of a member who had refused to work with a member of another union.

The issue was represented by officials of the union as being one of victimisation and so, by appealing to the deep loyalties of members, the Communists succeeded in involving 2,000 electrical workers in all parts of London in the dispute.

It dragged on from February to April and, in the case of Bethnal Green, until October.

Although allegedly an unofficial strike, the minion spent some £50.000 in support of the strikers and those who, suspecting its origins and purpose, refused to strike, found themselves being penalised as a consequence.

One of the seven men who brought the law case, for example, was fined £20 by the union. The alternative to payment of the fine would he expulsion, which would make it extremely difficult to get work elsewhere.

Some 150 members, in all. refused to strike and the case of the seven men therefore became a test case,

Judgment

Tuesday's judgment in the Chancery Division granted the men: injunctions restraining the union from expelling, suspending, fining or punishing them for not taking part in the strike; A declaration that the union had no power under its rules to spend the money on the unofficial strike;

And a declaration that all seven plaintiffs are entitled to all rights and benefits of union membership.

A claim to have a ruling that the strike was illegal yeas dropped in view of the fact that the relevant Order (1305) ehich mAle most unofficial strikes illegal has since been ended by the Government.

-Among those sued were , the general secretary. Walter Stevens. F. L. Haxell. assistant secretary, and A. Stride, a London organiser who handled the. strike, all of whom are prominent Communists.

Two years ago it was officially admitted that eight of the twelve members of the union's executive committee were members of the Communist Party.

The judge ordered all the costs to be paid out of the funds of the union.




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