Wednesday, March 26, 2014

1984 Chronicle of a Year Foretold: January

A chronology of events in the UK

(See also  Welcome to 1984; February 1984)

1984 started with various strikes, including the early rumblings of what would soon become the national miners strike. The armed conflict was continuing in the North of Ireland, with the row continuing about the mass escape of IRA prisoners in the previous September. The movement against nuclear weapons was focused particularly on Greenham Common in Berkshire, where women had established a peace camp...

Tues. 3 January: 110 workers go on strike over pay at Phillips Rubber Ltd, Dantzic street, Manchester [Hansard, 5.7.84]

Tues. 3 January: 21 Greenham women arrested after sit-in at Little Chef restaurant in Newbury. They were protesting about being banned from the premises, the nearest to the peace camp [GH, 4 Jan)

Thurs. 5 January: planned national shipyard strike called off by unions [T.6.1.84]; Land Rover workers vote to strike (but this is also later called off by unions).

Mon. 9 January: Sarah Tisdall, a 23 year old civil servant, charged under the Official Secrets Act  for leaking information to the Guardian last October about the arrival of cruise missiles at Greenham Common.

Mon 9 January: 24 hour strike against new working procedures by 1800 Edinburgh bus drivers, only three of whom turn up to work (GH)

Mon. 9 – Tues. 10 January : Riot at Peterhead prison with prisoners breaking on to the roof  (GH 11.1.84)

Tues. 10 January: policeman shot dead in Newry, County Down.

Tues. 10 Jan: Motherwell District Council vote to ban a planned march by the Troops Out Movement, scheduled to take place in Wishaw on June 21 (GH 11.184)

Wed. 11 January: British Rail Engineering Ltd announces that 3500 engineering jobs are to be axed, on top of a similar number lost in the previous year (GH 12.1.84)

Sat. 14 January – national planning meeting in London for Stop the City 2 at the Ambulance Station  squat, 306 Old Kent Road  (RR)

Mon. 16 January – 31 people appear before High Wycombe magistrates courts charged in relation to sit-down blockade of nearby USAF Daws Hill on Dec. 19 ’83 where cruise missiles are controlled (at least 113 were arrested)

Mon. 16 January – Ford announce the closure of its Thames foundry in Dagenham, with the loss of 2000 jobs. They claim its is cheaper to buy in castings made elsewhere (GH)

Mon. 16 January – miners walk out at High Moor colliery in Derbyshire in protest at visit by National Coal Board chairman, Ian MacGregor.

Mon 16 January – 19,000 workers stage one day strike at Britain’s eleven Royal Ordnance factories, in protest against plans to privatise them.

Tues. 17 January: Parliament passes rate-capping bill, giving Government powers to intervene to control spending by local Councils.

Tues. 17 January: 200 workers walk out at Volvo bus and truck plant in Irvine, Ayrshire in pay dispute.

17 January: a 38 year old man dies in a police cell at Camberwell magistrates court (Insurrection)

Wed. 18 January: the national council of print union National Graphical Association agrees to purge its contempt of court in the Stockport Messenger dispute, effectively ending support for the dispute, which started in July 1983 with the dismissal of the ‘Stockport Six’ for striking at the newspaper owned by Eddie Shah.

Tony Dubbins, NGA General Secretary (centre front) with the 'Stockport Six' in December 1983

Wed. 18 January:  James Prior,  Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced a public inquiry into the child abuse scandal at the Kincora Boy's Home in Belfast.

Thurs. 19 January: British Leyland announces 1000 jobs to go at its truck plants (GH)

Thurs. 19 January: seven journalists who refused to cross printers’ picket lines during the Stockport Messenger dispute are sent dismissal notices (GH)

Thursday 19 January: police clear protestors from Bracknell Town Council meeting after 200 protest against threat to close Easthampstead Adventure Playground and East Lodge Play Centre. The next dday users and staff occupied both places and staged a roof-top demonstration.

Fri. 20 January: nurses and other staff strike against the threatened closure of the Dreadnought Seaman’s Hospital in Greenwich [T.21.1.1984]

20 Jan: Irish National Liberation Army shoot dead UDR soldier in Dunmurry

Sat 21 January  – Stokely Carmichael (now called Kwame Ture) refused entry to Britain when he arrived at Heathrow for a ten day speaking tour as a guest of Hackney Black People’s Association. He had last visited in 1983 and made speeches apparently supportive of riots. The Home Office declared that ‘his presence in the United Kingdom would not be for the public good’ (GH)

Sat 21 January: 500 people take part in die-in at Holy Loch, the US polaris missile base near Dunoon. 27 people are arrested (GH)

Monday 23 January: workers at Scott Lithgow begin a ‘work on’ with laid off workers reporting for work, and their wages being paid for out of a levy collected from other workers (GH)

Monday 23 January: 40 ferry services across the Channel and the Irish Sea are cancelled as 3,000 members of the National Union of Seamen stage an unofficial 12 hour strike against the closure of the Dreadnought Seaman’s Hospital in Greenwich (Times, 24.1.84)

25 January – Thomas Kelly, a shipyard worker and Scottish republican, jailed for ten years  for sending a letter bomb to Conservative government minister Norman Tebbit last year, following evidence from a Special Branch informer Bernard Goodwin (GH)

Wednesday 25 January: Government announces ban on 7000 civil servants at GCHQ in Cheltenham from belonging to unions or going on strike (GH). They claimed the strike action by civil servants there in 1981 had put security at risk – seemingly the decision to ban union had been taken at the time, but was postponed until after the 1983 election (GH 1.2)

Wed. 25 Jan – British Shipbuilders announce closure of Henry Robb shipyard in Leith; unions in other years agree to more flexible working practices (GH)

Thurs. 26 January:   The Hennessy Report, into the mass escape of 38 Republican prisoners from the Maze Prison on 25 September 1983, was published. Most of the responsibility for the escape was placed on prison staff. James Prior, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, stated that there would be no ministerial resignations as a result of the report.

Thurs. 26 January: NCB announce closure of Polmaise colliery near Stirling

Thurs 26 January: News International - publishers of the Times - dismiss 750 members of SOGAT 82, for taking part in a two week unofficial sympathy action in support of clerical staff striking over staffing in the library. The Times failed to appear for four days.

Thurs 26 January: tens of thousands of civil servants in DHSS offices and other workplaces walk out in protest at GCHQ ban.  

Thurs 26 January: miners walk out and occupy surface buildngs at Bogside pit in Fife after management downgrade 12 workers for ‘not developing new seam quick enouhg’ (GH 28/1)

Thurs 26 January: students occupy the library at Strathclyde University in protest agains changes to travel allowances for students.

Fri 27 January: workers occupy the Henry Robb shipyard, where 390 jobs have been cut as a result of decision to close: ‘A Royal Navy sub-marine, under repair at the yard, will not released by the men’ (GH 28.1).

Fri 27 Jan – strike stops the Times appearing for second day. Courts unfreeze assets of NGA print union relating to Stockport Messenger dispute

Sat 28 January – 20+ women stage a Reclaim the Night walk in Reading.

Sun 29 January: 1500 -2000 people demonstrate at Cocksparrow fur farm in Warwickshire, surrounding the site and attempting to break through fences and police cordon. Mounted police are deployed and 25 people arrested (Hansard)

Mon. 30 January : The Prison Governors' Association and the Prison Officers Association both claimed that political interference in the running of the Maze Prison resulted in the mass escape on 25 September 1983. Nick Scott, then Minister for Prisons, rejected the allegations.

Mon 30 January: a man is shot dead by the British Army in Springfield Road, Belfast (GH 31.1.1984)

Tues 31 January:  Two Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers killed in an Irish Republican Army (IRA) land mine attack on their  police near Forkhill, County Armagh (GH 1.2).

date not confirmed:

30 arctic foxes rescued from Cocksparrow fur farm near Nuneaton, and a similar number from Bould Farm, Oxford, in Animal Liberation Front raids (SO)

1000 demonstrate in the snow at new Hazleton vivisection laboratory in Harrogate; fences are pulled down and police snowballed (SO).

Anarchists open Peoples Squat for Life peace centre in Bradford and, a few weeks later, a similar peace centre in Bristol (SO)

Sources: Glasgow Herald (GH), Times (T), Red Rag (RR - a Reading radical paper), Socialist Opportunist (SO - a chronology published at the time); Insurrection (anarchist paper); Hansard (official record of UK Parliament)

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