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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Production & Quality Control Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity for a ...

Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor - Kettering - £32,000

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor with an established...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Generalist

£40 - 50k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a HR Manager / HR Genera...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Officer

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role will cover all areas ...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss