Born in 1927 in South West England, Ken Gill became a draughtsman and was appointed a full-time office of his union, the Draughtsmen’s and Allied Technicians Association (DATA) in 1962, covering initially Liverpool and Ireland. He became the editor of the union’s journal in 1968, deputy general secretary of what became the Technical and Supervisory Staff association (TASS) in 1972.
The General Secretary of TASS in 1974, Gill held a range of positions arising from his membership of the General Council of the TUC. He led for the TUC on equalities issues for a very long period, being a Commissioner for Racial Equality and chair of the Trade Union Equal Rights Committee, as well as the TUC’s General Council – and hence of the annual congress in 1985.
As Chair of the Management Committee of the People’s Press Printing Society, he was expelled from the Communist Party of Great Britain for activities associated with defence of the paper against revisionist attacks from within the leadership of that Party.
Faced with technological change and industrial decline, Ken Gill reinvented TASS during the early 1980s, taking in a range of unions, such as the Gold and Silver Workers, the Metal Mechanics, the Sheet Metal Workers, the Tobacco Workers. In 1988, he and his long-time rival for the leadership of `white-collar’ unionism, Clive Jenkins (General Secretary of the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs – ASTMS), buried the hatchet and brought their two unions together to create the new union, Manufacturing, Science and Finance (MSF), with each as a joint General Secretary. Jenkins retired first and Ken Gill retired in 1992.
In 1993-4, Ken Gill led a list of key Communists who had either stayed in the CPGB until its dissolution, continuing the fight for Marxism to the bitter end, or who had, for various reasons held back from joining the re-established Communist Party (of Britain) in 1988, in successfully calling on the CPB to engage in a Communist Unity process that led to the admission of these comrades, including many who were associated with the post-CPGB “Communist Trades Unionists” group (1992-1994) and the only partially overlapping “Communist Liaison”.
For many years, Ken Gill presided over the Cuba Solidarity Campaign. He died in 2009 (see below)…
Sources: Morning Star 7th September 1985; GS personal knowledge
Ken Gill as a delegate from Edgware branch to the AESD conference in 1961 and below that a cartoon by him, `Safe Arrival' published in the AESD journal in 1960, expressing solidarity with the NUR pay dispute of that year.