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Undercover cops and trade unions

THERE'S an important conference on Undercover Policing and Trade Unions on Saturday 16 November. Co-hosted by groups including the Blacklist Support Group and Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS), the conference brings together trade unionists and activists, sharing some of the latest information on the activities of undercover policing in trade unions and protest groups.

COPS logo

Unionised workers in the construction industry are known to have been the subject of a blacklist maintained by firms such as the Consulting Organisation. Some data on that blacklist could only have come their way via undercover police officers, according to former undercover police officer Peter Francis. Journalists with Press Cards covering demonstrations and actions - in particular the coaches travelling to Fairford bomber base to protest the 2003 Iraq War - are known to be among those detained as a result of intelligence from "undercovers".

The ongoing Undercover Policing Inquiry - now expected to be completed by 2023 at the earliest - includes as core participants NUJ members who are believed to have come into contact with undercover police in the course of their reporting. The NUJ itself unsuccessfully applied for core participant status in the Inquiry, arguing that given undercover police infiltrated other trade unions and hundreds of political groups and solidarity campaigns, there must have been some undercover police around the NUJ.

Mike Schwarz, a lawyer representing core participants (including NUJ members) in the Inquiry, told LFB back in 2016 that we "don't have - by definition" the evidence of any such activity.

LFB hopes to send a delegate to the conference and will report back via the Freelance. The Branch passed a motion at its September meeting encouraging members to attend, and to promote it.

The conference is from 10:15 to 5:30 at the University of Greenwich, 30 Park Row, London SE10 9LS. For details and to register for it: see here.