UNISON’s first general secretary has died, aged 88

Alan Jinkinson was the former general secretary of NALGO and, when that merged with COHSE and NUPE in 1993, became the first leader of the new union

Black and white photo of Alan Jinkinson, then general secretary of NALGO, Hector MacKenzie, then general secretary of COHSE, and Rodney Bickerstaffe, then general secretary of NUPE, against the COHSE trade union banner, at the 1990 COHSE conference

Alan Jinkinson, the first general secretary of UNISON, has died at the age of 88. Born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, on 27 February 1935, he had previously been the general secretary of NALGO, from 1990 to 1993, when it merged with NUPE and COHSE to become UNISON.

He played a key role in the formation of UNISON and was always proud to serve as the union’s first general secretary from vesting day in July 1993.

A life-long servant to the labour and trade union movement, he worked in many roles across NALGO before becoming deputy general secretary and then being elected as general secretary.

Mr Jinkinson – pictured above at the 1990 COHSE conference, with Hector MacKenzie (centre), the then general secretary of COHSE, and Rodney Bickerstaffe (right), then general secretary of NUPE – had been with NALGO since 1976.

He was a strong negotiator, clever and witty. He took UNISON through its first years, sorting out staffing and finances, before retiring in 1996.

An interview with the Independent in 1992, as he prepared to become general secretary at UNISON, said: “Political posturing is not in the character of Mr Jinkinson, who carefully weighs up each comment before making it, avoiding remarks that will upset any faction within the union, or which can be interpreted as favouring militancy”.

Mr Jinkinson was a pragmatist who said: “One or two people join a trade union for political reasons, but for most people it is a practical question of the value of the benefits at the workplace”.