Politics

Trade union leader Derek ‘Red Robbo’ Robinson dies aged 90

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A firebrand union leader and former British Leyland worker has died aged 90.

Derek Robinson – nicknamed “Red Robbo” by tabloid newspapers – was one of the biggest names in the trade union movement during the 1970s.

He stood for the Communist Party of Great Britain at four general elections in Birmingham, Northfield.

Mr Robinson worked as an engineering apprentice during the Second World War, progressing on to become shop steward at a plant in Longbridge.

He was involved in multiple strikes over alleged mismanagement at the then-nationalised company, but was ultimately sacked for putting his name to a leaflet criticising senior managers.

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Mr Robinson contested four general elections

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey sent his “sincerest condolences” to Mr Robinson’s family.

He said: “Derek Robinson was a dedicated, life-long trade unionist who fought, as convenor, for the rights and future of the then British Leyland workforce at the Longbridge plant in Birmingham during the 1970s.

“History will show that Derek was unfairly maligned by the media as he aimed to find solutions to British Leyland’s industrial disputes and turn around the car company.

“He is quoted as saying: ‘If we make Leyland successful, it will be a political victory. It will prove that ordinary working people have got the intelligence and determination to run industry.’

“These words are a suitable epithet for a stalwart of the trade union movement, whose passing we mourn.”

Mr Robinson previously described his nickname as a badge of pride.

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