- Hits: 5647
Bill Freeman was from a Communist family and a noted leader of print workers in the 1970s and 80s. His father, also Bill Freeman (1911-1986), was a veteran Communist and member of NATSOPA and SOGAT London Machine Branch.
Bill Junior particularly came to prominence during a celebrated workers’ occupation, as the Father of the Chapel in 1972. Faced with one minute’s notice of liquidation, 130 workers at Briant Colour Printing on Old Kent Road in south London determined to prevent their plant from closing. The workers occupied the plant, stayed for over a year and finally won. A legal case that centred upon the then steady erosion of squatters' rights was eventually held - Briant Colour Printing Company (1977). Whilst under workers' control, the worker occupation became the unofficial print shop for the struggles of the day, most notably that relating to the Pentonville Five.
The quality of their work, and the impression their commitment to their craft gave, which was displayed throughout the occupation, also led to widespread endorsement of their action in the form of commissions from surprising sources. A stiff red cover booklet of L N Tolstoy’s "The Salvery of Our Tines" (1972) was printed by the Briant Colour Printing Joint Chapels.
Briant Colour also printed for the Covent Garden Community Association a poster, "London belongs to us" (see picture). This advertised "People's March" for April 1st 1973, part of a campaign of protest against the redevelopment of parts central London.
The workers’ occupation was also briefly covered in a film, "Arise Ye Workers" (1973).