Remembering Rodney Bickerstaffe, War on Want President: 6 April 1945 – 3 October 2017

5 October 2017 - 4:00pm
News

All of us at War on Want were deeply sorry to hear that Rodney Bickerstaffe, our long-standing President, passed away this week. Rodney's passion for tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice was matched by his humility. Rodney wasn't interested in titles. He was our President because he was determined to further War on Want's vision for a better world. "Use me while people still know who I am," he used to say. 

Rodney also knew his stuff. He spoke about our work from a place of knowledge and conviction, whether it was on Bangladesh, Palestine, corporate accountability, or economic justice. He spoke on our platforms at the TUC and Labour Party conferences and of course, at War on Want’s 60th Anniversary event in the House of Lords, where he addressed people with memorable eloquence. 

He always managed to give War on Want a shout, even when he wasn't there to speak on our behalf. I remember four years ago he spoke at the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival - he didn't know I was in the audience but I was there to hear him, from the main stage, heartily encouraging everyone in the audience to affiliate to to War on Want!

In 2006, several Prospect members cycled from London to Scarborough, where their annual conference was being held, to raise funds for War on Want. No one from the office was able to get to Scarborough for the day they were scheduled to arrive. So, Rodney made the trip from Doncaster and despite being soaked to the skin, he was there to make sure they had a bottle of champers and a rousing speech.

I think a lot of people have learnt from him about valuing the voices of others. When chairing a meeting, he would start the discussion by explaining, in his warm South Yorkshire accent, "Now, we can have one contribution lasting 30 minutes, or 30 lasting one minute. And I’ll tell you which it’s going to be”.

That we have never managed to find anyone to step into his shoes is a testament to the kind of man Rodney was. He was a great trade unionist, a great advocate for our organisation and a great voice for justice. Our thoughts and solidarity are with his loved ones. He will be greatly missed by all of us here at War on Want.

 

Latest news

Press Comment: Pimlico Plumbers Supreme Court Ruling

13 June 2018 - 2:30pm
Responding to the Supreme Court judgement on the Pimlico Plumbers case, Owen Espley, labour rights campaigner at War on Want, says:
 
“New technology does not mean no rights. This is a victory for common sense and will benefit ordinary people all over the country who are denied basic rights such as holiday and sick pay. 
 
It is a stinging rebuke to the government for failing to uphold the law and forcing people to fight for their rights.
 
Read more

Letter to the FCO: project funding should not be conditional on working with perpetrators of human rights violation

4 June 2018 - 1:45pm

Dear Minister Burt,

We are a coalition of Palestinian and UK-based charities and human rights organisations working directly with Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, and with Palestinians, including minors, held in Israeli military detention.

Read more

Join the conversation

Help workers win a stronger voice at work - support the by telling to recognise their union! https://t.co/KMHVOKLYEg 14 hours 37 min ago
Stand up for Palestinian rights today: use our resources to learn and speak about the UK-Israel arms trade & what j… https://t.co/RWxCvS5L4v 1 day 10 hours ago
During the past 30 yrs of BP operations in Casanare, , 3000 trade union and community leaders – many voca… https://t.co/b6Vi36tir4 1 day 16 hours ago