It is with deep sadness that we have learned of the death of Tony Merrick and send his family our deepest sympathy.
Tony was one of five London Dockers (the others being, Vic Turner, Bernie Steer, Derek Watkins and Con Clancy) jailed in July 1972 in Pentonville Prison.
They had refused to obey a Court Order issued by the then National Industrial Relations Court to stop picketing a container depot at Chobham Farm and The Midland Cold Store in East London.
Their arrest and imprisonment led to a rolling series of strikes throughout the country which resulted in an unofficial national strike.
Tens of thousands of striking Dockers and workers from other industries marched to Pentonville Prison, joining dockers and other trade unionists and ordinary members of society demanding their release from prison.
The Government quickly realised that it was not in their best interests to have ‘The Five‘ inside prison and produced a person called “The Official Solicitor” who, after a swift “reinterpretation” of the law, applied to the Court to have ‘The Five’ released from prison.
The men were released on the following Wednesday and were all carried shoulder high to the roars if the crowds of supporters outside the prison.
The United Left salutes once again the intransigence of the Pentonville Five, their dedication to their trade union principles, and the mass movement of workers which rose up to demand the release these proud representatives of the working class. It was an event of profound significance in the history of the British working class, demonstrating the strength of organised workers and collective action.
Once again, the sincerest of condolences to all of Tony’s family.
After his momentous contribution to the class struggle: may he rest in peace.
By Brian Holmes
Long-standing delegate to the London & Eastern Regional Committee, LE delegate to Unite Executive Council – and active participant in the campaign to free the Pentonville Five