Des Warren was one of the pickets jailed at Shrewsbury following the national building workers strike of 1972. His trial on conspiracy charges was part of the attempt by the Tory government of the day to destroy basic trade union rights.
The incoming Labour government of 1974 kept Des Warren in prison for the full three years of his sentence, Home Secretary Roy Jenkins turning down requests for his release. The TUC leadership went through the motions of lobbying about his case, but refused to support any real action, including the call for a general strike, the demand of many trade union members, to force his release.
Des demanded justice for the pickets, and a public inquiry to expose the real conspiracy surrounding the events of Shrewsbury.
He had suffered permanent injury to his health from drugs administered in jail, and ultimately this led to his death in April 2004.
Des Warren worked for five years to write The Key to My Cell, which was first published in 1982. It has a clear relevance for workers in today's casualised construction industry with its appalling safety record.