Fingerprints was based in Cardiff and operated between 1974 until 1995. It developed from a group of people involved in the Cardiff People's Paper, a radical local paper run by a collective and focussed on tenant issues which operated from the late 60's until around 1973.
Fingerprints was a worker co-op which started in shop premises bought back from the council with a council mortgage following a vigorous campaign in the People's Paper against an inner city motorway, the “Hook Road”. The council bought houses and shops along the route before it had planning permission, and eventually had to sell them when the campaign prevented the road going ahead.
Fingerprints grew to 9 staff at one point, although most of the time it was around 4 or 5, of whom 3 were the core co-op members who were there until the end.
It printed for everyone from the Labour Party to Class War and lots inbetween, as well as lots of charities and campaigns from CAMRA to CND. On one occassion we printed election addresses for 3 left of centre candidates in the same constituency such was our commitment to non-sectarianism. We are proud, also, to have all 3 trust us to be completely discreet about the other's campaigns.
It was a TU closed shop and proud of it, and one member, Lynne, was active in the NGA and sat on both the S Wales Branch Committee and the national NGA Women's Committee for many years.
When it expanded and moved, the shop passed to the Peace Shop of which Alex became company secretary, and the Shop was a leading part in the peace campaigns through the 80's and early 90's. Eventually the shop was sold and provided a cash fund which supported peace campaigns as well as Shared Interest, over the following years.
In 1994 Alex, Lynne and Pam, the three remaining members decided to move on. The de-unionisation of the print trade had reduced wages and conditions across the industry, and as worker co-op members our remuneration reflected wage rates rather average industry profits, and we were having to work longer and harder to make a living. We tried to find new co-operators to take it on, but eventually sold the machinery and premises lease to 3 fellow members of the NGA South Wales Branch in 1995.
Alex went on to work for Cardiff Council, running their Community Economic Development Unit, where ironically he facilitated the merger of the partnership that had taken over the equipment with another (non-radical) print co-op in Cardiff.
Alex is still active in the TU and Co-operative movements, and is currently Chair of https://www.union-coops.uk