The Socialist 22 August 2012
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Tommy Walker - tribute to a working class fighter
Tommy Walker, who has died aged 91, was a working class hero. This Communist Party member inspired many trade union activists in Stoke-on-Trent and beyond.
My father and Tommy were both joiners and worked together on many jobs. Tommy fought like a lion for building workers on the sites.
At Seddons in the 1960s Tommy was a thorn in management's side. Seddons was like something out of the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists - the boss's son, John Seddon, was called 'Master John'!
They wanted to get rid of Tommy by sending him to some remote site. The foreman told Tommy: "I have a message from Master John. He wants you to go to another job". Tommy replied, "Tell Master John that Master Tom says his request is refused!"
Tommy talked about the need to organise building workers to fight the bosses and that this fight would not stop until the working class had achieved socialism. Tommy was blacklisted but became a regional organiser for Ucatt union.
I started work in the building trade in 1972 and marched alongside Tommy in strike action against the 'lump' (casual cash-in-hand labour -Eds) and in defence of the victimised Shrewsbury pickets, in the great miners' strike of 1984/5 and against the poll tax.
During the miners' strike I joined the Militant. Despite some political differences I visited Tommy regularly to sell him the Militant newspaper.
Tommy and my dad introduced me to the class struggle and which side I was on.
Tommy was an inspiration for the battles to come.
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International socialist news and analysis
National Shop Stewards Network
Socialist Party Readers' Comments
Socialist Party news and analysis
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Socialist Party feature