Sheffield TUC supports the democratic right to protest in a free country and condemns the criminalisation of XR activists who picketed Rupert Murdoch’s News International and Lord Rothermere’s Daily Mail and General Trust (DGMT) as part of a climate action protest on 4th September 2020.
We are appalled that police have used Section 241 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act to charge XR rebels who were arrested at Broxbourne, Knowsley and Glasgow. This is a totally inappropriate – and vindictive – use of this legislation, which is designed to apply specifically to trade union pickets and only if violence and intimidation takes place. It was part of a raft of Tory anti-union legislation designed to ban secondary picketing and solidarity strike action.
Previous attempts to use this legislation by South Yorkshire Police against tree protesters in Sheffield in 2018 were later abandoned after the Independent Office for Police Conduct found there were “no grounds” for using Section 241 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act (1992). South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr. Alan Billings later said there was “no mileage” in the force making arrests under the legislation, which is normally used in relation to workers on picket lines during strikes.
We condemn the use by the police of heavy-handed tactics such as intimidating protestors by arresting them on severe and very serious charges. This is yet again another example of the powers of the state being used to protect powerful corporations from protest activity.
Finally, we support XR’s urgent message that immediate action is needed to tackle the Climate Emergency. As XR’s press release says, “Their papers (Sun, Daily Mail, Times etc…) have consistently demonised refugees and other marginalised communities, fuelling hatred and division for decades. They have repeatedly failed to accurately report on the climate emergency, manipulating the truth to suit their own agenda.” We support XR’s right to stand up against these powerful corporations and expose their share of the blame for the Climate Crisis.
Martin Mayer Bob Jeffery
12th October 2020