The life of Rodney Bickerstaffe – former general secretary of both UNISON and NUPE – will be celebrated at a memorial service today (Thursday) at Central Hall, Westminster.
Speakers who are expected to pay tribute include former deputy prime minister John Prescott; UNISON president Margaret McKee; UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis; campaigner and actor Maxine Peake; former joint general secretary of PCS and close friend to Rodney, John Sheldon; Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn; and Rodney’s son Philip.
Dodworth Colliery Band, along with the UNISON choir, will provide the music at the service. Rodney was a prominent supporter of the miners and played a key role in battling to keep the coalfields open during the 1984 to 1985 strike.
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Rodney was a cherished friend and colleague. He was instantly recognisable, utterly unforgettable and loved by many around the world.
“His work continues to change the lives of millions of people including those who never even knew him. Rodney had an unswayable sense of social justice as well as a great sense of humour and love of laughter.
“His was a life of campaigning and making a difference, with the minimum wage and the creation of UNISON among his many achievements.
“Rodney was the very best of us, a true giant of our movement and we all miss him greatly. But part of his legacy is that his life will continue to inspire us all to do more to create a better, fairer world.”