Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Tribute to Ben Rickman who died yesterday

The funeral took place this afternoon of Ben Rickman, secretary of Brent Trades Union Council, who died suddenly yesterday..

Ben was a long-time trades unionist and labour movement campaigner and anti-racist activist well known in the borough.

He was a determined opponent of extreme right-wing groups and opposed the EDL's attempts to stir up hatred during their campaigns in Harrow and Wembley. He signed the following letter to the press when the EDL was threatening to demonstrate in Wembley:
The racist, Islamophobic English Defence League is threatening to demonstrate in Wembley on Saturday 26 June against a peace conference, organised by a Muslim charitable foundation and aimed at building understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims.

The EDL is an organisation of violent, bigoted thugs with proven links to the Nazi British National Party. They should be condemned everywhere, but will be particularly unwelcome if they come to Wembley, part of this country’s most diverse borough.

We are proud of our diversity. In the London Borough of Brent, people live and work together, children study, play and grow up together in peace and mutual respect, regardless of faith or skin colour.
As residents and workers in this borough, we will not tolerate attempts to divide us or stir up hatred. We stood united to show that there was no place for racism or Islamophobia in the neighbouring borough of Harrow. We stand prepared to do the same in Brent.
Commemorating Jayaben Desai who led the famous Grunwick strike, Ben said:
Jayaben Desai destroyed the myth of passive Asian women and contributed to the advancement of Asian people in the UK. Many consider her a role model. She also contributed to unions taking the organisation of migrant workers as a campaign priority, one of her lasting legacies.
Supporting last year's Give Our Kids a Future unity march in Hackey which took place after the riots he said:
Please include the support of Brent Trades Union Council. Brent is a borough of many languages and cultures and a spectrum ranging from deprivation in Harlesden to millionaire homes in Kenton. We wish this demonstration every success. We all have a right to work, and to be valued and developed. Opportunity only exists for some, not for all and that is very wrong.
These extracts demonstrate why Ben was held in such regard as a man of principle.He will be greatly missed and perhaps the best tribute we can pay him is to join the March For An Alternative on Saturday. He would have been there.


DON'T dis US said...

I am very saddened to learn of Ben's death. He was a dedicated trades unionist and anti racist and as many will testify better, than me a stalwart of Brent trades Council. He was a kind and gentle man, and although he might not have called himself a Green, he showed care for the environment and set an example to others by driving around grossly polluted and often almost gridlocked Brent in his elecric car.

Martin Francis said...

Charlie Pottins wrote on Facebook:
Ben was a hard-working and conscientious officer of the kind every organisation needs, and there was nothing in it for him -if his career had been of concern he would have done much better for himself and family without getting involved in helping others through unpaid union activity. But Ben was a mensch. He will be sadly missed.

Anonymous said...

Charlie -
Thanks for your mostly kind words. I do feel it needs to be said however, that the bit about providing for family and success in career is not only way off the mark but also more than a little upsetting at this time. With respect, I don't think you are in a position to comment on these aspects. I can assure you that he took his career very seriously and did very well by his family.
Aaron (Ben's son)