Monday, March 03, 2014
A loss to our movement
I was saddened today to learn the news of the untimely death of UNISON Regional Organiser Stuart Barber.
Stuart, 63, had worked for UNISON (and before that NUPE) for more than 30 years and was the most recent official to have faced the challenge of working with the Lambeth Branch (for many years).
Before I worked with Stuart as "our" Regional official/organiser I was aware of his work - as an effective enthusiast for challenging race discrimination in the employment tribunals, and as a diligent Secretary to lay bodies at Regional level.
Stuart brought to his work decades of experience and a commitment undimmed by the passing years. It was unremarkable to receive emails from Stuart as he worked through cases on a Sunday and his advice (whether or not it was welcomed by members or their local representatives) was founded on experience and intelligence which commanded respect.
I could not say that I always saw eye to eye with Stuart (and would challenge anyone to say that they did!) However, Stuart was someone with whom one could disagree robustly on the basis of mutual respect - and always, in my experience, a solid ally when confronting employers.
Stuart represents a generation of union officials tested in past fires who were able to carry out the impossibly wide-ranging role which we expected twenty years ago. His knowledge of employment law and tribunal representation matched his skill as a negotiator and his commitment to our movement.
Stuart Barber is literally irreplaceable.
Ave atque vale.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.