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Abe Lazarus

Abe Lazarus was born, from a Jewish background, in Chiswick in 1911 and joined the Communist Party at Hammersmith in 1930. He played a key role in the Firestone strike in 1933 at Brentford for union recognition and thus secured the nickname, perhaps even `nom de revolution’, “Bill Firestone”. He was later central to work at the then new Pressed Steel factory in Cowley in 1934 that was successful in securing union recognition.
 
Union officials believed that plant, whose workforce was recruited from among local women and unemployed miners from South Wales, was un-organisable. But the Communist dominated local Hunger March Solidarity Committee, formed to greet unemployed marchers from South Wales, began to give attention to this task.
 
In July 1934 a dispute on the night shift over piece rate developed into a walkout. The Communist Party sent Abe Lazarus, largely because of his work at Firestones, to Oxford. He formed a rank and file strike committee and recruited the workforce into the TGWU. After six weeks, the company conceded union recognition and shop steward organisation. After the strike the TGWU 5/60 branch which covered the factory secured virtual 100 percent union membership.  Involved in the Thames Valley bus strike of 1937, Lazarus narrowly missed being elected as a Communist councillor for the Oxford City council elections for the Cowley ward, that same year, loosing by a mere 20 votes. He became Communist Party District Secretary in the South Midlands in 1939 and the District Secretary West Middlesex in 1950.

Michael Walker