Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A Trade Union Leader Who Will be Missed

Men like Eric Hammond are few and far between. Men of such courage come along once in a generation. For those who don't remember, he was the leader of the EETPU, the electricians' union in the 1980s. He was one of the first union leaders to recognise things had to change in the Union movement and can lay claim to being one of the first modernisers who laid the groundwork for what Tony Blair later put into practice. Hammond remains a hate figure on the left for his role in smashing the power of the print unions during the Wapping dispute. He was a brave leader of men who refused to be intimidated.

Eric Hammond died yesterday at the age of 79.

UPDATE: The Guardian has an obituary of Eric Hammond HERE.


Nick Drew said...

Agreed. Men like Hammond, and Frank Chapple before him, needed physical courage to pursue their ends.

Those for whom the 1950's / 60's and 70's are just history-book episodes don't necessarily realise how real was the Communist Party's effort to control TU activity; always devious, sometimes through ballot-rigging, and often violent.

Anonymous said...

You are right of course - and we should remember the attempts of Communists to take over the EETPU.

But you say - "who laid the groundwork for what Tony Blair later put into practice"

surely you mean 'for what Tony Blair later squandered' ??

DespairingLiberal said...

It was really Frank Chapple who blazed the trail, Eric Hammond just continued with it. Ironically it's all part of Amicus now and under the control of leftie Derek Simpson!

I am sceptical as to the extent of the "power" of the unions during the 60s and 70s that was so much a part of Tory PR at the time. The unions never really got their way in any crucial government policy under Labour at that time; for example on Prices and Incomes Policy the unions were totally against it but the Labour governments went ahead anyway. Oh and the miners did not bring down Ted Heath - he foolishly opted for a general election when he had no need to do so. The "power" was always something of a myth and known to be such within the unions - frequently they could not control their own grassroots and were always short of money.

However, it was very, very useful to Maggie's army of highly paid advertisers!

I vividly recall how in elections throughout the 80s in our area it was paid, yes _paid_ Tory canvassers who came to our door. Several happily confessed to me that they did not even vote Conservative themselves!

Money wins in the end.

Dimoto said...

RIP Eric Hammond.

Disappointed not to see a comment on the confrontation between Michael Howard and the Telegraph's Andrew Porter, on the Daily Politics yesterday.
Porter looks every inch the chippy ex-Sun journo who learned his trade at the knee of the masters (McKenzie and Yelland). He made Howard sound eminently reasonable and completely justified. What a shame Neill did not allow them more time. Porter obviously starts from the prejudice that all MPs are corrupt troughers, and fair game for his Sun-like simplifications.

Paul Halsall said...

Live a scab, dies as a scab.

Jackson Jeffrey Jackson said...

One less filthy scab to avoid in the street. I'm sure the thousands of decent working class people who lost their livelihoods thanks to the likes of Hammond will be commemorating his passing in their own way.

Yak40 said...

laid the groundwork for what Tony Blair later put into practice

Doesn't sound like anything to be proud of !

Twelve years of lies, spin, dishonesty, self enrichment at the publics' expense, sale of peerages, thousands of new laws/offences, weakening of the UK union, the surveillance society, sleaze, multiculti PC hell, open door policy to the world's dross, 7/7, . . the list is nearly endless.

Labour, GO!

Yak40 said...

I am sceptical as to the extent of the "power" of the unions during the 60s and 70s that was so much a part of Tory PR at the time.

If you'd lived thru' it you wouldn't be sceptical at all.

Mirtha Tidville said...

I for one shall mourn the passing of Eric Hammond. Firstly he was worth 10 of the likes of Scargill, Scanlon and the rest of the buffoons. He tried to better the lot of his union members, by whatever means, the commies just used their members as canon fodder.

His was the voice of sanity in the insane world of the TUC and yes I did have the misfortune to live through those days.

May he rest in Peace. He deserves it.

David Lindsay said...

RIP Eric Hammond.

Not because of Wapping, although I am fully conscious that I am writing this on a blog.

Certainly not because you were any sort of New Labour prototype or pioneer. You were no such thing.

But because you devoted your retirement to defending the grammar schools of Kent on the grounds once used nationally by "Red Ellen" Wilkinson and by George Tomlinson as Ministers, by Sidney Webb and R H Tawney academically, and by Labour councillors and activists the length and breadth of the land, not least while Thatcher, as Education Secretary, was closing so many grammar schools that there were not enough left at the end for her record ever to be equalled.

Anonymous said...

Blogger Yak40 said...
If you'd lived thru' it you wouldn't be sceptical at all.

Hmmm... I lived through it and I can certainly tell you it was a time of great hope - and men like Chapple + Hammond betrayed everyone involved. Bad man, bad man, bad bad man.

Richard said...

How can the BBC describe him as "the most controversial trade unionist of his time"? That is only the case if you are a true leftie. Anyone who thinks that there should be any limit to union power would see him as the least controversial figure. He was a centrist among extremists.

Gongdonkey said...

I realise death comes to us all, but it doesn't, very often, trigger regret for the death of someone you never knew.
The likes of Hammond, Chapple and Gormley dwarved the likes of Scargill, Crow and Simpson.
Bloody sad - even if it was inevitable in the fullness of time.
His passing will not be mourned by the Union knuckle draggers or the politically motivated - but, good luck if there's anything else out there Eric.