Sunday, April 26, 2009

On the 21st April 2009, Jack Jones, one of the greatest men of the trade union movement died peacefully in a carehome in Peckham, South London. He was 96 years old.

Jack Jones, born James Larkin Jones,was one of the greatest leaders of the Transport and General Workers Union.

Jack was born in Garston, Liverpool and he started to work as a dock worker when he became interested in socialism when he read a book called "The ragged trousered philanthropist" by Robert Tressel.

He was politically minded from an early age and he was a Labour Party ward secretary and from the age of 15, he was the youngest member of Liverpool City Council. A few years later

he then began his full -time union career in 1939 as a district organiser for the Transport and General Workers Union.

During this time he fought with International Brigade in the Spanish civil war and was wounded.

The union took him to London in 1963 in a new post of assistant executive secretary, the General secretary then was Frank Cousins, whose policies suited Jack's left wing convictions.

In 1969 he succeeded Frank Cousins and at the age of 55 he joined the TUC General Council and later chaired it's International Committee.

In the 1970's Jack Jones was influential in ending two crippling national dock strikes, although some of the militant extremists in his union reacted violently against the second settlement.

Even manhandled him whilst he was giving a news conference at Transport House.

Jack made great efforts to ensure that the TUC stood shoulder to shoulder with Harold Wilson in his successful bid to recapture power in the first 1974 election and his return in the second.

Jack Jones , above all others, was responsible for shaping and producing the so called "social contract" between the new labour government and the TUC and in fighting it through Congress, despite threatened opposition from the other giant union, Hugh Scanlon's AUEW.

He went on in 1975-1976, to give powerful even decisive support to the governments anti-inflation policies, including the £6.00-a-week pay limit and even tighter limit that succeeded it.

Jack Jones dominated the Transport Union as Ernest Bevin, Arthur Deakin and Frank Cousins had done before.

Former TUC general secretary Norman Willis said Mr. Jones was a "fighter" who would be fondly remembered.

"I worked with Jack in the T@G and through the TUC for many years. Jack Jones was a great fighter for ordinary people whether they were at work or unemployed or later as pensioners. He never forgot the underdog and will be remembered with affection."

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said Mr. Jones was a "true giant of the Labour movement. He was a passionate internationalist showing raw courage on the battlefields of the Spanish Civil war. After his working life as a trade unionist, he became a champion for pensioners, holding ministers to account without fear or favour and urging governments to deliver dignity to the elderly."

I have met Jack Jones and I can assure you he was everything they have described. He was a quiet man, very polite, and he had an "awe" about him,and when he walked into a room you just knew he was there.

A man who worked all his life for his political beliefs and improved so many mens lives with his tireless fighting for equality.

There will never be another man like Jack Jones.

God bless you, Jack.

1 comment:

Kippers Dickie said...

"....he became a champion for pensioners, holding ministers to account without fear or favour and urging governments to deliver dignity to the elderly."

Something sadly lacking today I'm afraid.