Greg Tucker – a brief appreciation by Alex Gordon.
RMT members learned with great sadness of the untimely death on Sunday 6 April 2008 of Greg Tucker, secretary of RMT’s Waterloo branch since 1993 and of the union’s National Conference of Train Crews & Shunting Grades since 1992.
Greg had suffered a malignant throat cancer diagnosed over a year ago and was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital on Saturday afternoon where he died some hours later.
As well as being a leading socialist activist for over 30 years, including a period in the 1980s when he served as a local government councillor as part of the ruling Labour group in Lambeth, south London and subsequently when he became a founding member and parliamentary candidate in Streatham for the Socialist Alliance in 2001, Greg Tucker played a crucial role in the emergence of RMT as a democratic, fighting, industrial trade union following the NUR-NUS merger in 1990.
Greg joined British Rail as a member of Platform staff at Vauxhall station in 1980 later becoming a Guard first at Clapham Yard and then at Waterloo depot. Following the 1988 Train crew Agreement between BR and the trade unions Greg became part of the first tranche of Guards to become Train Drivers. Along with several of his generation who cut their trade union teeth as Guards in the 1980s, Greg maintained a fierce loyalty and commitment to industrial trade unionism through the NUR and from 1990 the RMT.
In 1992 Greg was elected Secretary of RMT’s newly formed National Conference of Train Crews & Shunting Grades, which merged the former Locomotive Grades with the Guards & Shunters Grades Conference. He told the Conference delegates recently: “I am proud of the role that I have played in building one of the best parts of one of the most progressive, fighting democratic unions in this country.”
Greg Tucker believed strongly in the common interests of all workers, but specifically in the need for Train Drivers to defend Guards’ safety and operational responsibilities against the encroachment of Driver Only Operation train services as BR sought to slash jobs and wage costs in preparation for privatisation.
Already a leading figure within RMT as a delegate at numerous AGMs during the 1990s Greg campaigned against rail privatisation. In 1999 Greg Tucker stood as candidate for General Secretary of RMT. Although unsuccessful this was an indication of the prominent position he occupied within our union. Greg was elected onto RMT’s Council of Executives for the period of office 1997-1998 where he distinguished himself by winning a successful strike ballot by RMT Guards and Driver members against plans by South West Trains to introduce Driver Only Operation trains on their suburban services.
Following SWT’s climb down and promise to withdraw DOO equipment, which they had recently purchased and begun installing, RMT’s General Grades Committee at Greg’s insistence forced SWT’s Managing Director to sign an affidavit to the effect that the DOO plan was withdrawn, a humiliation which SWT always remembered. It is Greg’s great legacy that SWT train services remain DOO-free with a Guard on every train in passenger service today.
On 10 June 2001, following his return to work after standing for the Socialist Alliance in a parliamentary General Election campaign in Streatham against sitting Labour MP, Keith Hill, Greg became the latest victim of SWT management who sought to sack him as a Train Driver and permanently exclude him from any safety-critical position. Greg fought the victimisation and triumphed at his Employment Tribunal, which found: “the dismissal was part of a concerted manoeuvre involving several influential members of the Respondents’ management”. Commenting on the veracity of the SWT managers the Tribunal noted: “Like that of Mr Cook, and in striking contrast with the frank and straightforward testimony of the Applicant, we found much of Mr Marsden’s evidence incredible, and some of it risible.”
At the recent 19th National Conference of Train Crews & Shunting Grades held in York, delegates unanimously and with acclaim carried the following resolution:
Recognition of Brother Greg Tucker
“This Conference thanks Brother Greg Tucker for his long-standing service as Secretary of the Train crew & Shunting Grades Conference.
“Greg is a tireless advocate for the members we represent, a proven fighter for our class and a good friend to us all. This Conference pays its deepest and most sincere thanks for his contribution and commitment to our movement and we send our best wishes to him and his family.
“We agree to hold a minute’s applause in appreciation of the role Greg has played in our trade union. Furthermore we agree to send flowers to Greg and Joan.
“Viva Greg Tucker!”
The Funeral: will take place from 12.30-13.30 on Wednesday, 16 April 2008 at West Norwood Crematorium and Cemetery, Norwood Road, West Norwood, London SE27 9JU. Tel: 020 7926 7900. Just 5 minutes walk from West Norwood train station.
A Wake to Celebrate the Life of Greg Tucker: Greg’s many friends, workmates and comrades are welcome to join his family at the funeral and are also invited to attend a celebration of Greg’s life following the funeral from 13.30 hrs at The Bread & Roses Pub http://www.breadandrosespub.com / 68 Clapham Manor St, London SW4 6DZ.
Monday, 7 April 2008