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Born in Oatlands, Glasgow on July 1st 1938, Robert McNulty began an apprenticeship as a compositor at age of 15, working in various Glasgow printshops. He joined the Communist Party at an early age, in which he stayed for most of his life.
Rab moved to Oxford in 1969 with his wife and young sons to work at Alden’s Press, where he became Father of the Chapel (FoC), or senior shop steward.
He was active on Oxford Trades Council during the 1970s and in the anti-racist movement. During a THF recognition dispute at Trust House Forte, he was arrested on the picket line.
In 1975, he went to Ruskin College as a mature student to study Labour Studies. Following this, he achieved a BA in politics and an MA in Industrial Relations at Sussex University.
He became a researcher for the TASS (Technical and Supervisory) Section of the AUEW, later the independent TASS (which later merged with ASTMS to form MSF, which in turn became part of Amicus and then Unite the union.
Rab’s main area of work resulted in setting the agenda for unions with an interest in the manufacture of military materiel. In essence, his research enabled a call for diversification, going beyond merely a demand for an end to `defence’ production as a peace issue.
In early retirement became the UK representative in a European arms conversion project.
In the late 1980s, he co-founded the Oxford Triathlon Club. Diagnosed with leukaemia in 1994, he continued to compete in amateur athletics.
Rab McNulty died on 6th May 2001, aged 62.
Sources: Guardian 2nd July 2001; family brochure for the funeral at Tawney Hall, Oxford, 9th June 2001 (thanks to Phil Clegg)