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Arriving in Britain in the early 1930s from Ireland, Durkin's desire to break out of poverty saw him walk every inch of the way from Liverpool to London to find work. Once in the capital, he found this in the building industry and became a leading organiser for UCATT and one of its predecessors. During the 1970s, Durkin, who by now had also taken the role of president of the Brent Trades Council, played a leading role in the major disputes of the decade. He was prominent in the national strike of building workers of 1972.
More notoriously, he played a major part in the famous Grunwick dispute in 1976, when 137, workers walked out of a film processing plant in Willesden. The strike was centred on the lack of union recognition at the plant and involved the Association of Professional, Executive, Clerical and Computer Staff union, which represented the strikers.
The strike was co-ordinated by a broad Grunwick Strike Committee and attracted a wide range of support to picket lines, due in part to Durkin' s role. The national impact of the dispute led the then Labour government to set up a Cabinet Committee to deal with the issues that it raised. Durkin was also a member of the south-east regional TUC and played a vital part in the first People's March for Jobs in 1982. He was a strong supporter of the Morning Star and member of the CPB until his death at the age of 87.
Source: Morning Star 28th December 2002
A TRIBUTE FROM BRENT TRADES COUNCIL PRODUCED AT THE TIME OF TOM DURKIN'S DEATH FOLLOWS....