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M - O - M

Gary Morton

One of two sons of Ken, an engineer, and Hilda (née Bracken), a secretary, Gary attended University College school in Hampstead, north London, where he developed a lifelong passion for politics.

He immersed himself in the politics of South Africa, where his father had been born. While studying at Bristol Technical College, he became one of the leaders of a successful student occupation that protested about access to students’ union facilities at the University of Bristol. He also joined the Communist Party. In 1971-72, he studied for an MA in industrial relations at Warwick University.

Gary’s union career began as a trainee officer for the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs.

In 1976 he began working at the NUJ, responsible for the book and magazine sector, before moving to regional newspapers. Working closely with the National Graphical Association, he defended the jobs of both printers and journalists during the transition from hot metal to electronic composition. He was arrested in disputes at both T Bailey Forman in Nottingham (1973) and the Warrington Messenger (1983). He was also sued for libel by Robert Maxwell (an out-of-court settlement was achieved).

After leaving the NUJ in 1992, to retrain as a barrister specialising in labour law, he won a number of important cases at the employment appeal tribunal.

He taught courses for trade unionists and lectured in law at Keele University and produced seven substantial publications on labour law.

A critic of the statutory union-recognition procedure introduced by the Blair government as the Employment Relations Act 1999, he early recognised it was designed to have only a limited impact.

Gary Morton died aged 68 after a short illness.

Source: Guardian 6 Jan 2015