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Friday, 14 April, 2000, 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK
Profile: Bill Morris
Bill Morris
Bill Morris: Joined union ranks at the age of 19
Bill Morris, who has attacked the government over its policies on race, has headed the giant Transport and General Workers' Union for nearly a decade.

He is regarded as being on the left of the Labour party and has twice defeated its preferred candidate to take his place as head of the union.

The second the time the contest was fought, in 1996, he was up against was the high-profile Jack Dromey, husband of then Labour high-flyer Harriet Harman.

The contest was portrayed as a straightforward battle between Old and New Labour.

Blair's man lost. Bill Morris was strengthened in his role as a dissenter against several planks of Labour policy.

Workers' rights defended

Born in Jamaica in 1938, Mr Morris's family moved to the UK in 1954 after the death of his father, a part-time policeman.

His mother came first, settling in Hansworth, where she had relatives. Three months later a 16-year-old Bill Morris followed her.

He got his first job in a local car parts manufacturer, Hardy Spicer, and within a few years had shown his potential for representing workers' concerns.

The young worker was deputed by his colleagues to meet managers, to challenge them over the need for the workers to be given protective gloves.

He won, and the experience set him on the path to representing some 900,000 workers in the Transport and General Workers' Union.

High-profile battles

He was still in his twenties when he began his formal rise through the ranks. He was elected a shop steward in 1962, became a full-time officer 10 years later, and moved steadily through the ranks until the 1991 leadership election.

His leadership has seen several high-profile battles, fought not in the firebrand style of some of his T&G predecessors, but with quietly-spoken determination.

Last October he challenged Ford over racism at its Dagenham plant - saying the company was sitting on a tinderbox of tension.

As thousands of his members faced redundancy at Longbridge, Mr Morris called on people to vote with their pockets and buy Rover cars in favour of BMWs.

Outside his union role, Bill Morris holds a number of positions including one as a director of the Bank of England.

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See also:

25 Oct 99 | The Economy
Ford agrees anti-racist measures
19 Mar 00 | Business
Drivers urged to buy British
06 Jan 00 | UK Politics
Union fears over minimum wage
25 Oct 99 | The Economy
Ford race row meeting
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