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Farewell to leading trade unionist

PUBLISHED: 15:21 10 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:45 23 August 2010

TRIBUTES have been paid to a former borough councillor and influential trade unionist. Gravesend-born Eric Hammond, 79, who died last Saturday after suffering a long illness, was best known for helping Rupert Murdoch break the print union s stranglehold

TRIBUTES have been paid to a former borough councillor and influential trade unionist.

Gravesend-born Eric Hammond, 79, who died last Saturday after suffering a long illness, was best known for helping Rupert Murdoch break the print union's stranglehold on Fleet Street.

He was a key figure in trade unions for many decades and proved to be controversial thanks to his compliance with the economic and social reforms introduced by Margaret Thatcher.

In 1986 he divided the labour movement after helping media mogul Richard Murdoch weaken the union's control over the printing industry by moving the News International base from Fleet Street to a dedicated site in Wapping staffed by union members. Vice chairman of the Gravesham Labour Party Leslie Christie met regularly with Mr Hammond during his time in the trade unions.

He said: "Eric was a contentious figure in the trade union movement but he dedicated his life to what he believed was best for the working people and he was a major figure in the Labour Party and trade unions. I give my condolences to his wife and family."

Hammond was born on July 17 1929 the son of a papermill worker and grew up in Gravesend. He attended St Botolph's Primary School, Dover Road, Northfleet, but at the age of 10 he was evacuated and educated in Newfoundland, Canada. After returning home in 1945 he started on as an apprentice electrician with Bowaters where he joined the Electricians' Union (ETU). In 1947 he became a member of the Labour party.

After finishing a five-year apprenticeship at Bowaters, he moved to the Isle of Grain power station and became an ETU shop steward. In 1950 he served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in the Suez Canal for two years after being called up for national service. He also served as a Gravesend borough councillor 1959 to 1962 and was elected to the ETU executive council in 1963 and became a member of the TUC general council in 1983.

In 1977 Hammond received an OBE and five years later became general secretary of the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union (EETPU). In 1989 he became the first trade-union leader to serve with the inner councils of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

He is survived by his wife Brenda and their two sons, Shaun and Ivan. jason.goodyer@

archant.co.uk

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