An appreciation of Mick Shaw

Submitted by cathy n on 15 April, 2012 - 8:16

Mick Shaw’s death robs the labour movement of one of its finest representatives. He was a socialist, internationalist and trade unionist who devoted his whole life to the working class and the left.

Mick was best known as a firefighter and Fire Brigades Union member, where he rose to become the national president. His work in the FBU started with the 1977 firefighters strike and finished with picket duty during the London strikes in 2010. He was the London representative on the FBU executive for a decade and was a perceptive, critical voice during the 2002-03 pay strikes. He was proud to have been on a regular firefighters’ wage throughout his time as a union official.

Mick was rightly well regarded for his wider labour movement work too. He took part in dozens of campaigns. He was an avid reader of the left and bourgeois press and had a keen understanding of socialist debates. He was well informed and always willing to discuss politics. Even when we disagreed about Cuba and other international and national questions, I always learned something new from the engagement with him.

Mick was force for culture in the labour movement. He was an articulate speaker who enjoyed both theory and strategy. He devoted countless hours to organising and activism. He was a gifted chair who could hold any meeting with calm authority. He was the sort of person you would want to be alongside in a struggle – solid, dependable and cool under pressure. He will have influenced thousands of workers and his contribution was valued by everyone who knew him.

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