Many West Indian settled in England during the 1960’s due to looser immigration restrictions. In Southwest England West Indians easily found menial jobs in Bristol, but found themselves shut out of higher positions. It was hardly a secret that the Bristol Omnibus Company constantly turned away black and Asian applicants for drivers and conductors, but neither management nor the union, the Transport and General Worker’s Union, seemed interested in dealing with the “colour bar”.
Hunger strikes have a long history in Ireland dating back to the medieval periods when Cealachan, a method of gaining justice for some perceived offense through starvation, was codified in the civil code called the Senchus Mor. This starvation tactic, whereby the victim fasted on the doorstep of their wrongdoer, could be used to settle or recover a debt, or address an injustice – the threat lay in that if the complainant was allowed to die on the defendant’s doorstep, that person would be held responsible for the death and the victim’s family.