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Greg Tucker: an outstanding trade unionist

Trade unionist Greg Tucker died in April from throat cancer, aged 54, writes Dave Jones

June 4, 2008
2 min read

Greg was a gifted maths graduate who found maths ‘too boring’. Almost uniquely, he went on to be a nationally known activist in both the trade unions and the Labour Party. Living in a council flat near the Oval, London, Greg was equally at home discussing music, beer or international politics.

Greg first become active politically in the squatting movement and later was prominent as an anti-fascist campaigner. After initial support for Maoism, Greg was persuaded by his partner Joan Twelves to join the International Marxist Group (now ISG) and the Fourth International in 1979. He was a committed internationalist all his life; working closely with railworkers across Europe, as well as active in the European Social Forum.

He began working on the railways in 1980 and rapidly became a leading RMT activist. He contested the election for General Secretary in 1999, gaining one- third of the vote against Jimmy Knapp. He was secretary of the RMT’s National Conference of Train Crews and waged many successful campaigns, for example, against South West Trains attempts to get rid of train guards.

He also frequently had to fight to prevent his own and others’ victimisation. I bumped into him at a London ticket barrier in 2001. He had been demoted from train driver on trumped up charges. I had just read about him in the Evening Standard, where he had yet again been viciously denounced as a ‘wrecker’. I was unsure when he confidently predicted he would get his job back but I needn’t have worried – the Industrial Tribunal ridiculed the lies and behaviour of management, and Greg was duly reinstated.

Greg and Joan were both key leaders of Lambeth Council in the late 80s to early 90s at the height of the campaign against rate-capping. And Greg was eventually expelled from the Labour Group and the Labour Party. He later stood as a parliamentary candidate in Streatham for the Socialist Alliance and was active in Respect Renewal until his death.

There are very few comrades who have been so consistent in their struggle for justice across such a spectrum of activities. He will be greatly missed.

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