Happy birthday Di

Submitted by Janine on Sat, 02/18/2006 - 13:33

I'm posting this a bit late, but I must mention going out to celebrate Diana Udall's 60th birthday a couple of Saturdays ago.

When I first started work on London Underground, nearly ten years ago, Di was the person who gave me the most support and encouragement to get involved in the union. Yes, even a seasoned politico such as my good self can find it daunting to go to a branch meeting for the first time. My local rep, unlike Di, seemed to think it was odd that anyone other than a rep would want to go to a branch meeting, or in fact do anything other than pay our subs and get help when we got into trouble.

In what is (still) a male-dominated industry and union, it was good to see a woman activist who had survived the sexism and was still fighting. Di encouraged me to go to events and get involved, and helped me to become branch secretary of Central Line West RMT in 1998 (partly, it must be said, because she was sick of doing the job herself!).

In those days, Di was a train driver at White City. One of her many conflicts with management was when she insisted on personally checking that a train was empty before putting it into sidings, in defiance of the company's orders to simply make three PAs, close the doors and go. Di was about to be disciplined for this when a passenger was overcarried into the sidings on a train whose drivers was following the company's rules, tried to escape and was tragically killed. The HMRI then finally accepted that the rule was wrong. It was a terrible way for Di to be proved right.

After a few years as a Station Supervisor, and two decades on the Tube, Di left a couple of years back and now works as a National Support worker for the Rail Unions Learning Project. She is active in Islington North Labour Party, whose newsletter she edits, so she at least gets to support a decent Labour MP.

Thanks Di.