“Not every union leader can say they were loved. But Rodney was loved by everyone.” Trades Union Congress (TUC) General Secretary Frances O’Grady.
Rodney Bickerstaffe died on 3rd October 2017. He served many years as President of the Global Network, a network of labour rights civil society organisations in Africa, Asia and Latin America, aimed at fostering alliances between trade unions and other civil society organisations towards building capacity around labour rights at a grassroots level. IFWEA’s affiliates co-ordinated all activities in these regions, and worked with Rodney through SOLIDAR to advocate an international response to advancing labour rights for the most marginalised of workers.
Under Rodney’s able guidance, we crafted an IFWEA approach to international work. With a gentle deftness born of decades of trade union leadership, Rodney always led by example. He showed us how to forge principled political alliances; how and when to keep our own counsel; how to conduct meetings filled with fractious participants with both firmness and good humour; how to always be caring and accommodating to those weaker than us; how to edge our way to the front with our banner to make the most of every photo opportunity at a demonstration, without barging arrogantly ahead; how to deconstruct events over beer and laughter while not neglecting to make notes for the future; how to choose the best vegetarian dishes in an English curry-house; and last but by no means least, how to take the mickey out of ourselves and everyone else at the least opportunity.
Rest in Peace Rodney. You will always be remembered and were much loved by the IFWEA people who worked with you.
Sahra Ryklief – General Secretary, on behalf of the Executive Committee.