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Jack Amos led a life that confounded media images of Communist trade unionists as dour, single-minded party automatons. His quietly spoken, self-effacing demeanour masked a wickedly dry sense of humour and his post-meeting contributions in the pub could elicit both laughter and wry smiles.
He was a part-time voluntary assistant at
But it was as a film archivist and trade unionist, at all levels from the grass roots to national executive of Bectu and all its predecessor bodies, that he made his mark.
Daily Mirror former industrial editor Geoffrey Goodman, who worked with Amos and his Red Flag Productions partner Rob Wright to produce a film documenting the history of the Transport & General Workers Union prior to its merger into Unite, remembers him as a "superb film technician."
Starting out as a film projectionist in the 1960s, Amos worked widely in film and television production and developed a reputation as a film researcher and an expert on not only the labour movement but also, bizarrely, the British royal family. "When he finally became a documentary film producer in the '90s, the name Jack Amos was an established label of excellence, dedicated professionalism and true quality," says Goodman.
Aside from a brief period as a union official he was happier on the tools, working as a lay activist and representing his union on a number of committees, at regular Southern & Eastern Regional
Amos, who was just 63 when he died of only recently diagnosed cancer, became politicised at an early age. He was brought up in
He joined the Communist Party of
Just as he had been a strong supporter of the
During his decades in the Communist Party, he never sought leading positions, preferring to work in his local
Amos was indeed a Communist trade unionist rather than a trade unionist who happened to have a party card in his pocket.
Hundreds attended his funeral at Golders Green, including Ken Livingstone, former London Mayor, and Geoffrey Goodman, former industrial editor of the Daily Mirror.
Slightly edited version of an obituary in the Morning Star,