Friday, July 27, 2012

Sean Geraghty 1936-2012 - NHS Workers Debt of Honour

Sean Geraghty (1936-2012)

Fleet Street Electricians Leader


NHS Solidarity 1982


Rodney Bickerstaffe, In 1982 General Secretary of the National Union of Public Employees remembered how much his support for the NHS pay Campaign in 1982 meant. 


"He (Sean) was always ready to help everyone," Bickerstaffe said. "Solidarity was a key part of his make-up. It wasn't only just the nurses, but also other health workers who knew that he would always be there whatever the cost. Everyone knew that he wasn't in it for himself but that he was there to support others, especially those who were most vulnerable. There was terrific respect for him throughout the movement."



Fleet Street Solidarity Strike 1982

Full COHSE support for Sean Geraghty
Full Confederation of Health Service Employees (COHSE The health care union)) backing has been pledged to electricians' leader Sean Geraghty who faces a fine and heavy legal costs after his members held up the Fleet Street printing presses on 11th August 1982 in support of the NHS pay campaign during the 9-13th protest week of action.

Sean Geraghty, secretary of the London Press Branch of the Electricians Union (ETU), was fined £350 for contempt of court and ordered to pay court costs after his 1,300 members disobeyed an injunction obtained by the Newspaper Publishers' Association (NPA) to stop the threatened twenty-four hour strike on 11 August. 1982.
COHSE has offered to pay the fine and contribute towards the costs, expected to be a massive £10,000, incurred after a court appearance lasting only a few minutes.
The NPA brought the case against Mr Sean Geraghty for breaching the injunction. Under the 1980 Employment Act, the courts could have sent him to jail and he still faces prison if he fails to pay the fine by October. The electricians' branch has yet to decide whether the fine should be met.

Hundreds of NHS workers marched from St Bartholomew's Hospital in London to the High Court in New Fetter Lane on 13 August 1982, the day of the hearing.COHSE members from Regions 5, 6, and 8 were well represented both outside the court and at the Department of Health & Social Security’s London headquarters at the Elephant and Castle, where demonstrators joined the vigil organised by London health staff for the week long protest.

Although COHSE initially expressed concern that the Fleet Street action would distract publicity from the health staffs' case, COHSE General Secretary Albert Spanswick described the electricians' stoppaqe as a wonderful gesture of solidarity' and warned at serious action' would result if Mr Geraghty was imprisoned

Sean Geraghty addressing supporters outside the New Fetter Lane High Court;

The threat under new anti trade union laws to jail Sean Geraghty, led to a surge of support for the campaign. Unquestionably, had he been jailed, the industrial action in response would have significant from the unions.
The diminutive, softly spoken, 46 year old Dubliner. Sean Geraghty, who worked at the Daily Mirror became a household name, celebrity and working class hero overnight.

However, the Tories anti trade union Law had been especially drafted to ensure that their could be no Martyrs, for the movement to organise around.

The right wing Electricians Union were also not happy with this act of solidarity and tried to break up the branch ad discipline Geraghty.

It has to be said that the COHSE leadership unlike NUPE had to be pushed into support for Sean and the strike fearing a right wing backlash and a TUC keen to remain in dialogue with a Conservative government it did not understand.