A tribute remembering Gerry Jones: trade unionist, organiser and socialist, who constantly fought for fairness, writes Penny Hicks
Gerry Jones, born in 1945, has died aged 70 after a short illness. It is with very fond and happy memories that I remember Gerry Jones. I met him in 1975, a car worker and TGWU steward at the Coventry Stoke Chrysler plant. He introduced me to the world of organised factory rank and file organisation.
He worked with Tony Cliff in the early 1970s touring the Chrysler plants for factory gate and canteen meetings. He taught me how to write factory leaflets and encouraged me as I stood at the gates handing them out. I remember our leaflet to defend abortion rights, calling on the Chrysler workers to support and join the national TUC demonstration. Gerry was patient and funny, with a wicked smile.
His contribution to building working-class factory organisation was enormous, both in his own plants and advising and supporting others. He organised strikes and constantly fought for fairness.
The economic downturn hit Coventry like a sledgehammer and Gerry focused on his kids and football, but was always open to a visit – if you could find him in. As Chrysler was taken over by Peugeot, Gerry was moved from plant to plant as each one closed – finally ending up at the much smaller warehouse at Tile Hill.
His last job as a forklift truck driver on nights was a terrible strain and he began part-time degree at Warwick University. We studied together and compared notes on how to cope with academia!
I last saw Gerry at his home in Northumberland where he insisted on taking me to a remote coastal pub/brewery to sample the ale. He seemed delighted with his job he described as a 'shop steward' of the community.
It is so sad that he's gone. It was such a privilege to have known him.