Born in 1923, Sid, like his father before him, was a lighterman, who "drove" barges around the
He became the deputy general secretary of the specialist Watermen, Lightermen, Tugmen and Bargemen's
The small union (see pic right below for headed paper) merged with the Transport and General Workers' Union in 1971 and Sid became part of the important ports, canals, rivers, and docks group of that union in the south east of England,
From 1978, he served as secretary of the largest Region (
There were deeper reasons for this than he would have let on; indeed, there was already something of a history to this. After the bans on Communists holding office were lifted in 1968, Jack Jones had insisted that regional secretaries should not normally be Communists (only one publicly card-carrying Communist has ever held such a post since). It was mainly for the special role that Regional Secretaries played in managing the union’s sizeable delegation at the Labour Party that governed this concern.
Several T&G officials appointed as regional secretaries after 1968 left the Communist Party for purely tactical reasons, so as to be able to hold this office, and Sid was one of them. (At least two others maintained, at least for part of their period of office, a pragmatic membership, in one case whereby their card was held by a Party official, or in another that they participated in Party meetings as a full member but without a card.)
It has been written that Sid’s motivation was regional in character and the notion of preserving adequate representation certainly sounded more positive but it would have certainly been a matter of Labour Party politics that was at the heart of Sid's personal decision, something he may not have been ready to share.
During Ken Livingstone's tenure as leader of the Greater
The friend and mentor of Barry Camfield, who later followed Sid as Region 1 Regional Secretary, Sid was a man of strong views who enjoyed debating the issues of the day. Such was his passion for oratory, as Camfield notes “he was the only T&G regional secretary I know of to have won a standing ovation from his committee after giving his regular quarterly report. He would regale us with stories of the
Sid enjoyed the simple things in life. Visiting T&G officials could look forward to a fish and chip lunch in the regional office with Sid, excellent quality cod with "wallies and onions", debate and laughter. At regional office functions, at the end of the evening it was Sid who always helped to clear up, rather than clear off. He was highly respected by his staff and officers and was senior officer in his region for 10 years until his retirement in 1988. After a long period of retirement, some of which was marred by ill health, he died aged 87 in 2011
Sources: edited version of 17 February 2011 obituary by Barry Camfield in The Guardian (note almost all text is based on Camfield’s pieces, except that the comments here on Staden’s Labour Party membership are from Graham Stevenson); see also Barry Camfield’s piece in the Morning Star 8th November 2010
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