OBITUARY : Peter Hagger

The world outside the trade-union movement knew little of Peter Hagger during his lifetime. And yet he has been correctly described as the most influential lay trade-union activist in Britain.

This apparent contradiction can be explained by the fact that, despite the scale of his contribution to the Transport and General Workers' Union, Hagger was no glory-seeker. To him the movement itself - the ordinary members it represents - was more important than its leaders.

Beginning his working life as a computer engineer, Hagger became a London taxi-driver in 1969 and started activity in the Cab Section of the Transport and General Workers' Union in 1972. His leadership qualities soon became apparent and by the end of the decade he was Chair of our Region 1 Cab Trade Committee and a member of the T&G's General Executive Council. The 1980s saw him elected on to the General Council of the TUC, where he chaired the joint Consultative Committee for the Trade Union Councils (local TUCs). More recently, he became Vice-Chair of our General Executive Council and, had he lived, he would almost certainly have succeeded the retiring incumbent, Dan Duffy, as Chair.

But a mere litany of the posts that Peter Hagger held can express neither the extent of his contribution nor his unique qualities. He was involved at all levels of the movement, at the same time combining work at leadership level with activity (sometimes of the most detailed kind) at the grassroots. It was he, for example, who first conceived of the Cost Index now used by the Department of Transport to determine the level of London taxi-fares each year. Either unpaid or at best receiving only expenses, he was utterly selfless in his contribution.

Through it all, Hagger never changed. Whether in discussion with general secretaries at the TUC General Council or talking to a potential recruit on a cab rank, he was the plain-speaking, working-class activist, and treated everyone the same, regardless of their position.

This is not to say that he lacked finesse. A Marxist, he shunned sectarianism and always aimed to build the maximum unity. Although he inevitably became embroiled in the TGWU's internal disputes in the 1980s (during the course of which he was libelled by the Murdoch press) it was he who led the healing process. His gifted approach to tactics and his common sense were valued by many outside our own movement, as evidenced by the tributes paid to him by, for example, fleet taxi proprietors and vehicle manufacturers.

To those within the trade-union movement, Peter Hagger's life and work serve as an inspiration and an example. And it is to be hoped that that life and work will serve to expose, to others, the falsity of the usual caricatures of trade-unionists.

Peter Hagger, trade-unionist: born London 17 April 1944; married (one son, one daughter); died London 26 February 1995.

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments