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Plaque commemorating trade unionist unveiled in Sheffield

A PLAQUE commemorating a respected national and international trade union figure was unveiled in Sheffield today.

Train driver, communist, president and full-time organiser for his union Aslef and international campaigner for peace Bill Ronksley was described as “an inspiration to generations of trade unionists.”

He died on November 6 2018, aged 94.

The ceremony was attended by Aslef delegates from across Britain, including national president Dave Calfe, and by leading trade union figures, communists and civic dignitaries.

Martin Mayer, who became secretary of Sheffield Trades Union Council when Mr Ronksley retired from the post, said: “Bill was a stalwart who inspired many.”

He said that under Mr Ronksley’s influence not a single piece of coal was moved by train during the miners’ strike against pit closures of 1984-5.

“We felt it was important that Bill, who was a hero of the movement, should be recognised,” Mr Mayer said.

“Unfortunately, in many cities, only the rich and powerful are recognised.”

Mr Ronksley made many visits to Russia, East Germany and other countries, where he won huge respect.

He used to enjoy telling the story of how he welcomed Pablo Picasso to Sheffield with a bunch of flowers when the world-famous artist attended the international peace congress in the city in 1950.

After escorting Picasso from the station, Mr Ronksley asked him to hand back the flowers as they were needed for the next arrival.

Speakers today also included Mr Calfe and TUC Yorkshire & the Humber regional secretary Bill Adams.

The dedication was followed by a reception in the rooms of the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards.


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