Page last updated at 07:17 GMT, Wednesday, 22 April 2009 08:17 UK

Union chief Jack Jones dies at 96

Jack Jones
Jack Jones headed one of the most powerful trade unions in the country

Jack Jones, who led the Transport and General Workers' Union in the 1970s, has died at the age of 96.

His son Mick said Mr Jones died peacefully in a care home in Peckham, south London, on Tuesday evening.

Mr Jones was born in Liverpool and was general secretary of the TGWU from 1969 to 1978 at a time when it was one of the country's most powerful unions.

Veteran Labour politician Tony Benn described Mr Jones as "one of the finest men" he ever met.

"I feel a real sense of personal bereavement," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"Everything he said, he believed. He was bitterly attacked [but] if he was powerful it was only because he represented people."

FROM THE TODAY PROGRAMME

Former Labour leader, Lord Kinnock, described Mr Jones as a "normal man" who used his life to help others.

"No airs and graces, easily approached, he was strong and he used his strength for its best possible use - that's to help people who either permanently, because of disadvantage, or temporarily, because of illness or age or youth, weren't strong.

"That's what he thought the privilege of strength was."

Mr Jones fought in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s and served as a Liverpool city councillor between 1936 and 1939.

He became a TGWU organiser in Coventry and worked his way up through the union to become general secretary. He was on the Labour Party's policy-forming National Executive Committee from 1964 to 1967.

Mr Jones, who turned down a peerage, continued his campaigning - for pensioners' rights - after retirement from his union post.

'A fighter'

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

HAVE YOUR SAY
Pity we don't seem to have the likes of him representing the working classes today
William Clarke, Bournemouth

"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 said.

"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," he said.

"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."



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SEE ALSO
Obituary: Jack Jones
21 Apr 09 |  UK


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