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Gareth Morris
Job title
GCHQ worker
Former GCHQ worker Gareth Morris talked to PCS about his experiences when the trade union ban was brought in at GCHQ in 1984.

Gareth told PCS: "In January 1984 I received the letter telling me I had five weeks to resign my trade union membership or face being be sacked. Five years later I was still there."

gareth morris
Gareth at the time of the ban

"Like my colleagues, I was offered £1,000 to sign away my rights. At the time I didn’t have a mortgage or a family, like many of my friends who felt they had to sign, and who eventually did so under duress. I wasn’t allowed to move jobs, there was no promotion and no training.

But during those five years they still sent me abroad for work - which meant I couldn’t have been a threat to national security, which we were accused of at the time by the government."

A job I loved

"GHCQ tried to find me alternative employment. I had interviews at the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Agriculture – but those jobs weren’t the same.

I wasn’t prepared to leave a job I loved doing. I was fortunate that the month after I was sacked from GCHQ I started work at the Bank of England.

gareth morris
Gareth Morris

At my interview my interviewer pointed out she had seen a photo of me in the papers leaving my old job in Cheltenham. In my new job they made me chair of their local union branch, BIFU."  

Matter of principle

"For me it was a matter of principle. I have no regrets. Yes, I may have been promoted earlier at GCHQ if I’d signed the letter, but after the ban was lifted, I returned there, resumed my career and stayed there until I retired.  

I shall never forget the support I received from my union and the wider trade union movement. I’m looking forward to catching up with old friends on Saturday at the march and demo in Cheltenham. I hope to see you there!"

Picketing outside GCHQ in 1984
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