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Joe Simmonds was a woodworker who moved to Southampton from Sunderland in 1936, searching for work. He started at the Scott Paine yard in Hythe working on motor torpedo boats but was moved into the Docks early in the war under the Essential Works Order, 1936, where he joined the Communist Party in 1941. He had previously been involved with the NUWM in the northeast.
Indeed, at this point, the Party’s Docks Group in
The popular support for the
Particularly active in the woodworkers union, the ASW, Joe recalled that, during the war and after, Party activists never really had to work hard at wage militancy because, there was so much work both in shipbuilding/repair and construction work in and around the town, that wages for woodworkers were always reasonably high, although in the occasional lay-offs Communists were usually the first to go.
During the war, and immediately after, Party members were heavily involved, in leading positions, on
The Party was prominent among the rank and file leadership of the ASW. The local management committee of the ASW was, with the exception of one, exclusively made up of Communist Party members. This influence was maintained right up the foundation of UCATT out of the ASW and other building unions.
Joe became a full time union official in 1960.
Source: Adrian Weir, `The Minority Movement and After: a South Hants Perspective’, Our History, New Series No 6, July 2007