Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Union chief Jack Jones dies at 96

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.

His son said: "He had all the care he could want. He was active until the very end and had a good innings."

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 said.

"He never forgot the underdog and will be remembered with affection."

'True giant'

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.

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."