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Thread: Jack Jones - 'Union Man'

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    Default Jack Jones - 'Union Man'

    Jack Jones was born in Liverpool in 1913. He left school at 14 and worked as an engineering apprentice, then as a dock-worker. He served with the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War and was wounded at the Battle of Ebro in 1938. Later he became a full-time official of the T&G in Coventry and helped to keep the city's munitions industry working through the terrible German bombings.


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    After the war Jack was largely responsible for organising the work force of the car industry in the Midlands. He was elected general secretary of the T&G in 1968 and led the union for nine years. During that time he held many prominent positions in the TUC and was a principal spokesman on international and economic matters.

    Jack was the 'architect' of ACAS and was a member of the NEDC from 1969 to 1978. In 1977 he gave the BBC Dimbleby Lecture, 'The Human Face of Labour'.

    Jack Jones wrote about his childhood in his autobiography, 'Union Man" (1986):

    My home was in York Street, Garston, in the south end of Liverpool - a long street of poor and mean terraced houses. They had two rooms up and two rooms down, generally in a decaying state. They had been built some time in the last century - obviously with the minimum of cost - to house labour for the nearby factories and docks. The houses were infested by rats, mice, cockroaches and bugs. Our rent was five shillings a week, and even that was exorbitant!

    From a child's point of view the street had one advantage: out of the maze of working-class streets it was the nearest to the Mersey river. We walked past the copper works, the tannery, Grayson's shipyard, the bobbin works (making wooden bobbins for the textile industry), a derelict glass works and King's ship-breaking yard and there we were on the shore, a wonderful if muddy playground when we tired of playing our games in the the street.
    Ermine tastes much the same as sackcloth when there's nothing left to eat.

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    One of the most influential trade union leaders of his generation is being honoured in Liverpool on Saturday.

    The Transport and General Workers Union is renaming its Liverpool offices after Jack Jones, its Liverpool-born former General Secretary.

    Mr Jones, 93, will be welcomed back to his home city by current General Secretary Tony Woodley for a ceremony and open afternoon from 1300 BST.

    The city's Mayor will attend along with a number of union officials.

    "Jack Jones is the greatest living trade unionist and a fearless champion for standing up and fighting back for justice," said Mr. Woodley.

    "He took his T&G campaigning and organising skills into the fight for pensioners. We are proud and humbled to honour him in this way by rededicating Transport House as Jack Jones House."

    Mr Jones, who left school aged 14, started work as a Liverpool docker.

    Source: Here....

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    Senior Member Howie's Avatar
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    Veteran opens war exhibition
    Sep 4 2008
    by Staff Reporter, Liverpool Echo



    JACK Jones, one of the leading figures of the post-war trades union movement and a Spanish Civil War veteran, opened a special exhibition in the city about the conflict.

    The event at the Peoples Centre in Mount Pleasant commemorates the men from the north west who served in the International Brigade during the civil war, which lasted from 1936-39.

    Mr Jones, 95, was among the 160 Brigade soldiers from Merseyside who fought for the republican cause against General Franco?s fascist forces.

    A union activist at Garston docks where he worked, at the time he went to Spain he was a Liverpool Labour city councillor.

    Serving with the International Brigade?s British Battalion, he was seriously wounded at the Battle of Ebro in 1938.

    After returning to Britain he became a full-time official of the Transport and General Workers Union, rising to become its general secretary in 1968.

    The exhibition runs for the next month.

    Source: Liverpool Echo

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    Senior Member Howie's Avatar
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    Unhappy Former union chief Jones dies at 96 - Tuesday 21st April 2009

    Former trade union leader Jack Jones has died aged 96, his son said.



    Mick Jones said his father, who led the Transport and General Workers' Union, died in London shortly after 9.30pm on Tuesday.

    He said: "He passed away very peacefully in a very nice care home in Peckham."

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

    Mr Jones was born in Liverpool and served as general secretary of the TGWU from 1969 to 1978 when it was one of the most powerful unions in the country.

    Former TUC General Secretary Norman Willis said Mr Jones would be remembered as a "fighter" for ordinary people.

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

    Source: Press Association

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    Senior Member Waterways's Avatar
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    A great man of principle...and action.

    His type saw the worst of poverty, ignorance and exploitation and decided to fight and even put their own lives on the line.
    Last edited by Waterways; 04-22-2009 at 10:52 AM.
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    Senior Member Howie's Avatar
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    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.

    More from BBC News (including audio and video clips)

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    Senior Member Howie's Avatar
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    Tributes as Liverpool-born union giant Jack Jones dies, aged 96

    LIVERPOOL-BORN trade union pioneer Jack Jones has died, aged 96, his son said late last night.

    More from Liverpool Daily Post (including video and obituary)

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    Keeping It Real !!!!!!!!! ItsaZappathing's Avatar
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    What a guy.
    R.I.P

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    'For us, Spain wasn't an adventure: it was the battle against fascism'
    Before his death last week aged 96, Jack Jones, former union leader, talked to historian Max Arthur about his service with the International Brigades in the Spanish civil war, and how a visit to the battle zone by a young Ted Heath led to a lasting friendship

    Max Arthur
    The Observer, Sunday 26 April 2009

    I lived in York Street, Garston, in the south end of Liverpool - a long street of mean two-up, two-down terraced houses, generally in a decaying state. The houses were infested with rats, mice, cockroaches and bugs. Our rent was five shillings a week and even that was exorbitant!

    There was no gas or electricity, so we had a paraffin lamp downstairs, but otherwise we used candles. I was the youngest of five children and my three brothers and I slept in one of the two bedrooms - and when we were very young, we were all in one bed.

    None of the houses in the street had an inside lavatory or a bathroom - we bathed in a tin bath once a week, and that wasn't easy, as the water had to be heated on our single coal fire. Every morning a lad would trundle a metal barrel on wheels round the street, shouting "Lant!" - which meant urine, for use in the pickling process in the local copper works. The women would go out and empty the contents of their chamber pots into the barrel.

    I left school, aged 14, and went to work at a general engineering firm, making components for Graysons as well as Harland and Wolff, the shipbuilding and ship-repairing firms.

    I regularly attended my union branch meetings and was always amazed and concerned at how few members were there. Out of a branch of some hundreds, only around 20 used to attend. There were so few members that at the second branch meeting I attended, I was elected branch delegate to the Liverpool trades council and Labour party - I must have been the youngest delegate by far.

    I suppose the earliest I became aware of the Spanish war was through some Spanish workers I knew in Liverpool. From quite early on, we followed developments over there with intense interest. Around this time I joined the Territorial Army - not so much out of patriotism but because some of my mates from the docks had joined and persuaded me to follow suit. The officers didn't impress me much - they were young, middle-class business types - and, to my amazement, when I went along to [an Oswald] Mosley meeting to protest against his fascist policies, I found some of our TA officers among the Blackshirts.

    With the news in July 1936 of the revolt against the Spanish Republican government, a wave of sympathy for the elected Spanish government and the Spanish people swept through the Labour movement. Right from the very early stages I was prepared to go to Spain - and naturally I was on the side of the workers and identified with them. I organised meetings with Spanish seamen and with members of the Spanish community in Liverpool.

    I had no doubts as to where I should be and quickly offered my services at the Aid Spain office in the Haymarket in Liverpool. I had some Territorial training and was young and fit - but my hopes were soon dashed. I was told I would be of greater service to the Republic by carrying on my activities among the dockers and seamen.

    I had the job of going to see the families of those killed or wounded in Spain, which was pretty terrible, but as I was the Liverpool organiser of the forces supporting the Republic I felt responsible. I repeated my request to be allowed to join the International Brigades and this time was told that in principle my application was accepted, but I was still needed to work in the union and the Labour party to gain as much support as possible for the Spanish government.

    During this period I met, for the second time, Evelyn, whose husband had been killed in Spain at the battle of Brunete. She had been working abroad, in the underground movement against fascism, and had taken many risks in doing so. The death of her husband was a deep personal wound, which only time could repair, yet her mood was not to grieve but to fight on. My admiration for her spirit was more than matched by my growing love for her. We both knew, without putting it into words, that if I returned from Spain, we would marry.

    For many men who went, it wasn't a sense of adventure by any means. It was a feeling we were on the right side - the side of justice. For us it was the battle against fascism, including our local Mosley crowd, and that inspired me and encouraged me to do what I could against it, even if it meant laying down my life for it.

    The first fighting I encountered was pretty intense, it was in a defensive action in the L?rida area, and the fact that I had a military training and good clothing, equipment and boots was a real help. Sometimes we were in defensive positions and sometimes we were attacking, but we were always taking cover when we could. The fighting was mainly in open ground, it was not exactly hand-to-hand but close enough to be firing with rifles and handguns. This lasted a few weeks and I saw my first deaths there. We had to bury the dead quickly in shallow graves.

    I remember one incident vividly. An old Spaniard shouted, "I fight for liberty", as he dug in alongside me. The ground was hard and stony and it was only possible to dig a shallow strip. We had to use what natural cover was available. Laying his trenching tool on the ground, he picked up his rifle to fire at the opposing force. Franco's men sent back a hail of rifle and machine-gun fire.

    I looked at the unlikely soldier by my side and marvelled at his courage. He had a gnarled bronze face, a heavy body and was wearing the cap and overalls of a working man. He was afraid of nothing. It turned out he was an anarchist, but he typified for me the resolve of so many Spaniards who hated the idea of a fascist takeover. In his courage, he was reckless - a recklessness which did for him, for he was killed by the return of fire. He was shot in the head and died quickly. Others around me dragged him away and later buried him in a rough, shallow grave. I kept on firing and it was only luck that saved me from the same fate. I must have been as reckless as he was, because I foolishly insisted on wearing a black leather jacket - which wasn't the best camouflage. The jacket had been given me by friends at home, and I couldn't bear the thought of not having it with me.

    Life wasn't easy, but a good spirit prevailed in the ranks. Food was short; our main meals consisted of beans, lentils and chickpeas, sometimes beans with dried fish in a stew, or beans with mule meat or old goat, stewed and topped off with rough - very rough - red wine. Some of the lads visited an old chap in a nearby village who, allegedly, made stew from mice, but nobody would admit to having tasted it. Needless to say, there were no cats or dogs around!

    Before the battle of the Ebro, I met up with young Ted Heath [later the Tory prime minister]. He came out with a small group of students, while we were in training. He was then chairman of the Federation of University Conservative Associations and was to the right of the five-man delegation. I suppose he reflected a strand of Conservative thinking which had some sympathy with the Republic - a line more prominently followed by the Duchess of Atholl and even occasionally by Winston Churchill. When we stood around chatting that day, we little thought that our paths would cross in later years in Downing Street and other prestigious places.

    He was very sympathetic and I built up a friendship with him. It was amazing to me that a Conservative would come out there in favour of the Republic - as he was, genuinely. I established a link with him which I maintained afterwards. He was always very friendly - more so than some of the Labour party. I say that now, but I wouldn't have said it at the time. I found I identified more with Ted Heath than with Harold Wilson, for example.

    We tried at least to bury our dead, but, as casualties increased, this became more difficult. We grew hardened and impersonal. I recall coming across a dead comrade and, before I thought of burial, I looked over his gear for any food he might have and found, to my delight, a tin of corned beef. I shared this find with a good friend and we ate it together, savouring the delicacy, under heavy fire.

    The number of dead and wounded mounted rapidly and the British Battalion took a heavy battering. One day I had clambered up the hill with my comrades, taking cover where we could and firing at the enemy wherever he appeared. The bullets of the snipers whizzed over, grenades and shells were striking the ground, throwing up earth and dust and showering us with shrapnel. Suddenly my shoulder and right arm went numb. Blood gushed from my shoulder and I couldn't lift my rifle. I could do nothing but lie where I was. Near me a comrade had been killed, and I could hear the cries of others, complaining of their wounds.

    While I was lying there, to make things worse, a spray of shrapnel hit my right arm. I just had to lie there in the heat until the night came and then move in the dark. It was a tough time, I knew that. I didn't think I might die, but I didn't feel too good.

    As night fell, I made my own way, crawling to the bottom of the hill. I was taken with other wounded men, down the line to an emergency field hospital at Mora de Ebro, where I was given an anti-tetanus injection. The hospital was like an abattoir.

    My arm was out of action for quite some time, and although I was moved to hospitals at Barcelona and Santa Colomba, my wounds didn't heal easily. It was decided that I should go back to Britain. That was my last part in the fighting.

    When it came to an end, I had feelings of great sadness that we hadn't made the progress that we wanted to, but at least I could feel I'd done my bit - and done my best. I also had a strong feeling of repugnance towards those who had advocated non-intervention and who didn't want to know. I had more support from Ted Heath than I had from the Labour leaders.

    ? Real Band of Brothers, by Max Arthur, is published by Collins, ?18.99

    Jack Jones: Union Warrior

    Born James Larkin Jones in Liverpool in 1913, the son of a dock worker.

    Became a Labour party ward secretary at 15 and the youngest member of Liverpool City Council at 23.

    Fought with the International Brigades in the Spanish civil war and was wounded.

    Became a full-time trade union official in 1939 as a district organiser for the Transport and General Workers Union, rising to be general secretary in 1969.

    Credited with helping to end two national dock workers' strikes in the 1970s.

    Retired in 1978, with 2,500 guests attending his farewell party in the Royal Festival Hall.

    Turned down a peerage but accepted title of Companion of Honour.

    Given a special award, aged 90, at the 2003 Labour party conference in recognition of his service to the movement.

    Source: The Observer

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    A true believer! R.I.P. Jack

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    Senior Member squiggs's Avatar
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    Just out of interest does anyone know the name of his parents ?.
    My Dad was a docker and used to go to the TGWU office in Park Road and often spoke of a Tank Jones I wonder if this is a relation ?.

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    Quote Originally Posted by squiggs View Post
    Just out of interest does anyone know the name of his parents ?.
    My Dad was a docker and used to go to the TGWU office in Park Road and often spoke of a Tank Jones I wonder if this is a relation ?.
    I believe Jack's parents were Annie and George. I don't know about Tank Jones, but am sure someone will be able to help.

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