From Derek Simpson:
Our comrade Graham Goddard lost his battle with cancer on October 19 2009 at the age of 51. Graham was the joint deputy general secretary (DGS) of Unite the Union.
Where do you start when reflecting on the life of a person that meant so much to so many people? Graham Goddard was one of the kindest and most caring, thoughtful, generous and decent people you could ever wish to meet. Graham was much more than a DGS for Unite. He was a dedicated socialist who passionately believed in doing all he could to enhance the lives of working people. He detested the inequality and devastation that capitalism delivered, having seen first hand the demise of manufacturing, employment and society during the Thatcher years of the 1980s in his home county of Yorkshire.
Graham joined the AEU as an apprentice engineer in Sheffield and soon became active in the union. He was employed at Shardlows, an automotive parts manufacturer. Although this was a highly organised workplace with an existing mature shop stewards committee, he was quickly elected deputy convener and then convener. He became a regional officer based in Sheffield, following which he became Amicus regional secretary for Yorkshire and Humberside and later for the north-west.
Promoted to deputy general secretary, perhaps Graham’s most notable achievement was the pensions campaign, of which he was at the forefront. Based upon his own experiences from Sheffield, he played a leading part in the efforts towards the creation of the pension protection fund and the financial assistance scheme.
Graham, together with his United Engineering Forging comrades, stood up to a system which would have seen them – and thousands of others – lose their right to take, after a lifetime of work, a pension as deferred wages. He fought back against a system that saw people, after losing their job through company insolvency, stand to lose their life’s savings, built up over years in the company pension. During the five years it took to win the campaign, many miles were walked in protest demonstrations, hundreds of hours spent lobbying government ministers and MPs. But Graham’s determination was so great he created a mood of confidence in all those around him who worked and supported the campaign.
On December 17 2007 a deal was struck which saw the government commit £12 billion to secure pension benefits up to 90 per cent for over 140,000 people throughout the UK.
You would think that this in itself was a victory worth savouring but Graham was determined that when the economic circumstances were right the outstanding 10 per cent would have been fought for. It is no exaggeration to say that thousands of workers and their families will benefit from Graham’s work, now and in the future.
Graham also took over strategic management of the finance sector. Working with the senior lay leadership he led the unification of the insurance and banking sectors into a cohesive group fit to fight on behalf of our many thousands of members right across the financial services industry.
More recently, Graham was involved in the detailed negotiations for the establishment of Unite’s constitutional structures, to create a union that is fit to serve our members’ needs into the future. Both within and outside Unite he leaves a long-lasting legacy.
Graham had a very close and loving family – his daughter Jayne with husband Andrew and grandsons Thomas and George, daughter Vicky and granddaughter Paige, and son Richard with fiancee Angela, his sister Jean with husband Terry and their children Andrew and Andrea.
Graham also leaves his partner Siobhan and his much-loved 18-month-old son Ted. Graham was a much-loved and respected man who leaves a great legacy in his family and his work. We have lost a valued colleague and dear friend.