A Glasgow tram driver, during 40 years membership of the Transport and General Workers Union, Sam Henderson held every office in his union available to him short of General Secretary and GEC Chair. He served on the T&G General Executive Council, representing Scotland, in the 1940s and was a member of its Finance and General Purposes Committee. He was, in ever way, a premier lay member of the union of his time.
It was no surprise therefore than Henderson became the union’s full-time Passenger Service Trade Group National Secretary in August 1946, Despite the great success he made of this role and his virtually universal popularity, he was forcibly ejected from the union’s employment in 1950 for refusing to renounce his membership of the Communist Party.
This had become a matter of ineligibility after the rules of the union were changed in 1949 banning Party members from holding office and this included full-time employment. Henderson was one of nine Communists who were sacked after refusing to renounce their Party card.
Henderson left the Communist Party during the exodus after the Khrushchev revelations and the intervention in Hungary in 1956. There was perhaps more than a sense of the convenience of the occurance and he was certainly strongly urged by many leading and influential upcoming left leaders to drop his principled stance in the interests of the greater good. He then returned to national full-time work as National Officer for the Passenger Services Group in 1958 and then was appointed National Secretary for the second time in July 1961. Henderson died. all too young and with too much yet to do, on 6th November 1965, aged 61 years, with regret at this loss being widely felt amongst ordinary members.
So powerfully was this felt that a fellow Communist much later filling the position he once held, some 22 years afterwards, was greeted at his first speech to the T&G London Bus Conference by a shout from an old Communist in the audience "it’s like having Sam back!".
Source: T&GWU Record January 1966