Flashback: Ford strike threat, increase in child abuse, and a rise in smuggling

20 years ago.

20 years ago. - Credit: Romford Library

A look back at the stories from this week 60, 40 and 20 years ago

20 years ago.

20 years ago. - Credit: Romford Library


Unless Ford and the unions hammered out a solution to 100per cent trade unionism at a meeting in London, it was likely that the giant motor works would be rocked by another big strike.

Between 400 and 500 members of the Electrical Trades Union at Ford were due to walk out because one of their members was in arrears with his union subs.

If this happened, many thousands would have had to be laid off within a few days and eventually most of the firm's 45,000 workers because the ETU controlled the nerve centre of production at Ford.

20 years ago.

20 years ago. - Credit: Romford Library

For nearly three hours, 22 union leaders and representatives of the firm at a meeting of the National Joint Negotiating Committee in London tried to clear up once and for all the question of 100pc membership.

Although the meeting was friendly, the committee failed to agree and another conference was called.

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Child abuse was on the increase locally.

Havering Council confirmed a "steady increase" in the number of cases of child battering and neglect.

Its comments came after a shock report into child abuse issued by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

The dossier made disturbing reading in what was supposed to be the International Year of the Child.

But Dennis Banton, group officer of the NSPCC's Essex group, which covered Havering, said that while more cruelty cases were being reported, the society felt that they were only "the tip of the iceberg".

He said: "There has been a lot of publicity over the last two years and consequently more cases are coming to light.

"But we feel there are still more cases that never get reported."


Huge amounts of illegally imported alcohol, cigarettes and other goods were pouring into the Romford area.

Customs and Excise figures showed that on their list of shame, the Romford area was second only to Dover for the amounts of illegally imported merchandise.

The local excise fraud unit had seized 74 million illegal cigarettes since April 1999.

This represented around £9m in excise evasion.

Romford was rapidly becoming a booming bootleg borough with smugglers finding it an ideal area to target.

A fraud unit officer said that proximity to the Channel Tunnel, Kent ferry ports and London City Airport helped to make Romford a hotspot.

He added: "There are many industrial estates and warehouses in and around Romford and with the growing number of boot fairs there was a ready market for smuggled goods."