Fifty trade unionists gather at Cheltenham to celebrate 15th anniversary of union success


Fifty trade unionists are today meeting in Cheltenham to celebrate 15 years since the re-recognition of unions at GCHQ.

Margaret Thatcher banned unions from the spy base in 1984, claiming they could be a risk to national security. A group of 14 workers were subsequently dismissed after they refused to give up their union membership.

In an event organised by UnionNews and Cheltenham and District Trades Union Council, four of these GCHQ ‘heroes’ will attend the Cheltenham cricket festival, along with John Sheldon, leader of the Civil Servants’ Union that defended them.

The ban was eventually overturned in 1997, and the 14 offered re-employment.

Also attending will be Prospect reps from Qinetiq – the private firm contracted by the MoD to provide technical support which is saying it will no longer allow collective bargaining for employees.

UnionNews co-editor Tim Lezard said: “Trade unionists in Gloucestershire have never forgotten the principled stand made by these workers so we thought, 15 years on, it was appropriate to remember the successful campaign to restore recognition rights.

“And as many of us are big cricket fans, the festival seemed the perfect place to enjoy a day’s celebration together. I’m very grateful to all the unions who have supported the event, and especially to Hugh Kirkbride from Unite who helped organise it.”



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