You can read 19 more articles this month
TODAY we celebrate Rodney Bickerstaffe and his contributions to the movement. Rodney, known as “Bick” to his friends and colleagues, was a champion of the movement whose dedication to the wellbeing of his members and beyond knew no bounds.
He was an inspiration to everyone he worked with. He was incorruptible.
Throughout his working life, beginning with NUPE and then Unison, his aim and determination, often with opposition, was to improve the lives of countless people.
It often required great patience and dedication to see campaigns through no matter what obstacles were put in the way.
There are many notable occasions that we could recall, but space is limited. One of immense importance and worth remembering always was his response during the “winter of discontent” to the question, “What about the dignity of the dead?”
Rodney replied: “What about the dignity of the living?” which sums up the principles that he held dear throughout his life and is a lesson to us all.
Following the merger that created Unison he worked tirelessly to develop the growing and effective organisation it is today.
His great sense of humour and shared laughter with colleagues and friends spurred him on to the great success he achieved, not to mention the encouragement this gave to many others. Rodney retired as general secretary of Unison in 2001.
He didn’t stop there. He succeeded Jack Jones as president of the National Pensioners Convention and, with his usual determination, he moved the successful resolution, albeit controversial, at the Labour Party conference of 2000 to ensure pensions are uprated in line with earnings or prices whichever is higher.
He stood down in 2005 but did not stop there. He carried on working here and internationally with solidarity organisations and much more.
To sum up, by far Rodney’s greatest achievement following the development of Unison was securing the statutory national minimum wage, in spite of tremendous opposition. His principles, dedication and determination shone through in everything he did, says it all.
Barbara Switzer is former deputy general secretary of Tass, now part of Unite, and longtime friend of Rodney Bickerstaffe.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.