Saturday, July 12, 2014
Farewell Stuart Barber
I have blogged before about the sad loss of our former Regional Organiser, Stuart Barber, earlier this year. Today I went to his memorial service.
UNISON’s Vice President Eric Roberts, spoke of Stuart’s time as NUPE’s organiser in the London Ambulance Service, which was as eventful as Stuart was combative.
Later, in UNISON, Stuart made a name for himself as someone who was not afraid to stand up to authority to resist racism in particular, as he did in Brent. Indeed, Stuart was prepared to take up cudgels against the senior officials of the Union which employed him when he felt it necessary.
During his years working with the Lambeth branch – when we did not always see eye to eye – Stuart was forthright in exposing the mismanagement of our members employed by OFSTED – taking their concerns all the way to Parliament.
Stuart was part of a generation of worker militants trained by the trade union movement to become full time officials, for whom the politics of the “official left” of the movement (i.e. the then Communist Party) were axiomatic and who therefore understood the essential importance of the independence of the trade union from the employer (whilst perhaps failing to analyse the “relative autonomy” of the employees of the trade unions from their membership).
Stuart did not always endear himself to Lambeth’s activists – and it may have been a weakness that he did not see that some younger worker militants, whose politics he did not share, were in many ways his successors in different times. Nevertheless he was an example of the commitment and dedication which our movement will always need.
I miss our arguments and disagreements and respect the memory of a fine trade union official.