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RIP GEORGE WARD

By Pete Moore On April 25th, 2012

Sad to read of the death of George Ward, in my book a true hero of capitalism and British liberty.

The story of Margaret Thatcher’s war on militant trade unionism is well known. In a way it’s a story which began in 1976 when Ward refused to recognise trade union membership in his firm and sacked many of the staff who resorted to strike action. The Grunwick dispute, as it became known, lasted for two years and was over by the time Margaret Thatcher won the 1979 General Election. It was particularly bitter and often violent, but George Ward stuck to his guns and prevailed, sticking two fingers up to Lord Scarman along the way when he recommended that trade unions be recognised at Grunwick.

Seeing an honest and self-made man suffering injustice and violence, and in contrast to some of the spineless Tory old guard, Margaret Thatcher was a strong supporter of his while in Opposition. Looking back, it was a rather revolutionary time within the Conservative Party, though not quite the revolution which many communist trade unionists wanted to bring about. His obit notes that “having survived the strike, Ward built Grunwick into what, by the 1990s, was the largest privately owned photo processing laboratory in the world under one roof.” Let’s hope we have a few more George Wards out there.

21 Responses to “RIP GEORGE WARD”

  1. It’s important to remember men like George Ward because otherwise history gets written by the bad guys.

    The apology at the beginning of this article shows how the trade unionists and fellow travellers.

  2. Any man (or woman) who stands up in the face of bullying and intimidation is a hero.
    Unfortunately most of us, myself included, look at the forces rallied against us and think,
    “What’s the use? They’re wrong, but they’re strong. What difference can my voice make?”

    So hats off to George Ward, who stood up to the bullies and won.

  3. Never understood that dispute. If it’s so bad working in the firm, then take your Labour somewhere else. Otherwise STFU. Seemed to me that it was just an excuse for Union bully boys to have a barney with the Gubbermint.

    Like todays Bob Crow only not as urbane and charming as our Comrade Bob is.

    Thats a given as far as I can see.

    Remember what your mum told you ‘it’s never going to get better if you picket’….

  4. Never understood that dispute. If it’s so bad working in the firm, then take your Labour somewhere else.

    No. Because that is an argument that leads you directly to serfdom and rule by the rich. We’re never going back to those days.

    ” Rule by the rich ” seems to be the crux of many faux libertarian arguments.

    Not that I have the slightest respect for militant unionism.

  5. Phantom –

    “” Rule by the rich ” seems to be the crux of many faux libertarian arguments.”

    If you spent less time attempting to counter my opinions and more time forming your own, you wouldn’t get so much so wrong.

    In case you hadn’t noticed, rather alot of American (and British) wealth is “redistributed” upwards by the State, from the poor and middle classes to the wealthy and connected.

    You don’t get any of that malarky in a libertarian society.

  6. Don’t get crochety.

    Arguing for repeal of minimum wage laws, worker safety laws, worker wage & hour laws, worker pension laws, environmental laws, vehicle safety laws, airport security procedures, air traffic control procedures, etc are not the arguments of anyone interested in liberty.

    They’re the arguments of a cranky rich man, and not a terribly bright one either.

    I live in the hope that these views as regurgitated by you on these pages are an extended practical joke on your part.

    So when are you coming to NYC for a beer summit?

  7. Phantom –

    Yes, I’d repeal all of those laws. They’re either useless, a hindrance or dangerous. In their place would come the wisdom and actions of millions each and every day and, therefore, the much smarter regulation of the market.

    I’m not sure when I’ll be there. I think I’ll be in Pennsylvania for a couple of days this summer but I’m waiting to hear on it. If so then I’ll grab a couple of days in New York.

  8. Where in PA?

  9. Erm … somewhere called Allenwood, up in the Appalachians. Just a bit of family business I might need to attend to.

  10. Understood.

    Let me know if I can help with anything.

  11. Thanks.

    I might need help with speed limits and getting you lot to drive on the right (left) side of the road.

  12. Arguing for repeal of minimum wage laws, worker safety laws, worker wage & hour laws, worker pension laws, environmental laws, vehicle safety laws, airport security procedures, air traffic control procedures, etc are not the arguments of anyone interested in liberty.

    Agreed, but there is obviously a spectrum. My view is that the minimum wage is irrelevant (any employer who cannot afforf to pay £6.00 per hour is not running a viable business), but in the UK there is now way too much red tape when it comes to employing people. The complexity of the payroll tax system for starters, but also the complexity of employee rights to (unpaid) leave for paternity and adoption, as well as their right to request flexible hours. In western Europe it is even worse, and is becoming a major impediment to economic growth.

  13. Peter

    Yes

    Same here

    Regulation is necessary but it should be with the lightest possible effective hand

    You never hear of any creator of a great company want to abolish all regulation.

  14. Of course not.

    Creators of “great” companies are usually happy for regulation to kill off potential competition.

    You think, say, GM wants another Henry Ford on the scene, or that Bill Gates wants to see another Steve Jobs around? Of course not. They want government to regulate him out of the game.

  15. Those companies have not been regulated out of any game.

    Which car or computer or other companies have been eliminated due to any unfair regs?

  16. Phantom –

    What’s the point of naming one? Firms are put out of business every day because of taxes, compliance costs, regulatory costs and other measures designed to price them out of the market.

    Today in the US, in just one sector, Monsanto is advantaged hugely in many ways because it puts people into regulatory positions where they can stiff the little guy. It’s called “regulatory capture”.

    You have this tabloid view of “big business”, that it hates regulation. The opposite is true. Established, large firms love regulation.

  17. Ah, no examples.

    There can be times when they dont fight regs that force them to do what is right- ie minimize pollution through technology that has a cost.

    If the regs apply to all, they won’t be undercut by another firm who otherwise would never pay for antipollution equipment.

    If its a level playing field, it makes economic sense and everyone benefits.

  18. Agri-chemicals are now in the frame for the great bee die-off. A ferocious rearguard action has already begun, in order to delay a ban for just as long as possible. Luckily a few countries have already acted to save their crops.

    Link here

  19. Phantom, on April 25th, 2012 at 1:49 pm Said:

    No. Because that is an argument that leads you directly to serfdom and rule by the rich.

    Nope. That leads to having self respect and dignity of labour. If your providing such poor working conditions then nobdoy will work for you and you’ll be forced to up your game. Thats the beauty of a free market. I myself have moved companies for various reasons and I ain’t no serf! 🙂

    Unions are just a collective of bully boys out to foment trouble. Gentlemen I give you Bob Crow…….troublemaker extraordinaire. Like Arthur Scargill’s much more militant gran on steroids. A commie. I’d like to get Joe McCarthy on his ass!

  20. Is a union, literally holding a country to ransom, any better than a Middle Eastern dictator ruling by coercion?

    After all it is just another case of ‘a Phew Few’ demanding special privelege at the expense of the rest of us.

    A strike that cripples a country, even if only for a few days, must surely be an act of treason, especially as strikes are usually directed at small sector but affect everyone, irrespective of any lack of responsibility for the initial disagreement.

    All very Mafiosi, “Gimme the cash, – or I kill your Granny!”

  21. EY- yes.

    Plus anyone notice the staggering coincidence that as soon as you want to go on holiday. The Amalgamated union of Bar Stewards aka French Air traffic controllers, or Spanish Baggage Handlers or Luxembourg Gas Lamp Wick Trimmers suddenly seem to have a grievance that requires an instant withdrawal of Labour.

    I’m with Clarkson on this. Take them outside and execute them in front of their families….it’s the only language these people understand.