J W (Bill) Jones participated in the 1926 General Strike but his real
life’s work began when he was engaged as a busworker at the
London General Omnibus Company in the 1920s.
He was long associated with the rank-and-file journal, the
Busman’s Punch, and its associated organisation, the London
Busman’s Rank and File Organisation.
His role in the unofficial strike of 25,000 London busworkers in May
1937, the infamous Coronation Strike, held during the crowning of
King George VI, led to his expulsion from the TGWU. But he soon
gained re-admittance and was elected as Chair of the T&G’s
powerful Central Bus Committee.
PIc left: Jones speaking for the Central Bus Committee in the 1930s
Jones joined the Communist Party in 1937 and was a key part of the
Communist Party’s organisational drive amongst London busworkers,
which saw it gain hundreds of members in bus garages.
Pic: below right – Bill Jones at a Communist Party event circa 1940
In the postwar era, he resisted all attempts to make him renounce Communism and suffered under the bans and proscriptions, having to return to his job as a conductor at Dalston garage on routes 6 and 78 in 1949.
Jones left the Party in 1956, ostensibly over differences on "international policy" but it was the new T&G General Secretary , Frank Cousins, who persuaded him to return to a key role within the union by dropping his Party membership.
Nonetheless, he maintained friendly relations with the Party and kept to a strongly left-wing position. Now that he found himself more in tune with the new leadership of the union, he was rapidly restored to all official positions, including membership of the General Executive Council of the T&G.
He rose to become Chair of the GEC and union and a member of the TUC General Council and played a crucial role in Cousin’s resignation as Minister of Technology from the Wilson Cabinet in 1966. When Cousins reported to the T&G GEC on his differences with the Prime Minister, Jones, chairing the meeting, simply said “We want you back here” and that was it. Jones served as Chair of the British Peace Committee and worked within the pensioners’ movement after his retirement. He died aged 88 on March 18th 1988.
Sources: Morning Star 19th March 1988; Guardian 28th March 1988
Pic below: Bill Jones towards the end of his life with leading T&G Communists, (left) Peter Haggar, Micky Connolly (second from right) and Erik Rechnitz (right with pipe); the other person is Reg Taylor, then secretary of the Broad Left.
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