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, writes Alex Gordon on the Bristol RMT website.
Greg had suffered a malignant throat cancer diagnosed over a year ago.
As well as being a leading socialist activist for over 30 years, 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 Traincrew 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. In a letter addressed to RMT Conference delegates less than a week before his death, he wrote: “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. Greg was elected onto RMT’s Council of Executives for 1997-1998 and 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, SWT management sought to sack Greg 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.”
• Funeral from 12.30 to 13.30 on Wednesday, 16 April 2008 at West Norwood Crematorium and Cemetery, Norwood Road, London SE27.
A Wake to Celebrate the Life of Greg Tucker: from 13.30 hrs at The Bread & Roses Pub, 68 Clapham Manor St, London SW4.
For Janine Booth’s appreciation of the life of Greg Tucker, visit www.workersliberty.org/story/2008/04/09/greg-tucker.rip