Saturday, 2 July 2011

Remembering Pete McGreal: unsung hero

It is with great sadness that the Branch learnt of the death of Pete McGreal, 44, who passed away on Saturday 25th June 2011 following a cycle accident. Pete was a Health and Safety rep in the City campus, and was an active and respected member of the Branch Committee, who will be sorely missed.

His family have requested that donations in Pete’s memory should be made to the Royal London HEMS Air Ambulance Service​m

We felt the need to pay tribute to Pete and keep a page for our memories of him on our website. Please follow this link for our memories of Pete McGreal.

Pete McGreal came on to our branch committee in 2009. Like many reps at the time, he got active in our branch when we were facing large scale job cuts. His job wasn’t threatened, but he did everything he possibly could to help save his colleagues’ posts.

Like many union reps he was reluctant to get too involved but soon became a respected, central figure on our branch committee.

Pete was easily recognisable as a ‘natural leader’: his peers looked up to him; he had experience; was popular, intelligent and had invaluable people skills. He’d already been a steward before and soon he was a Health and Safety rep. He quietly put up with the ongoing shenanigans of his work on the H&S committee and only occasionally came to the Branch Committee for guidance or advice.

You could trust his judgement completely and we only really ever had to commit to backing him up whenever he needed it.

Not only did we appreciate his experience and wisdom on the Committee, but also his skills as a graphic designer. He created by far our most beautiful and original leaflet (‘We are London Met’) which of course he took no credit for at all. He also quickly and simply laid out the design of our postcard that over 200 members of staff completed and posted to the Chair of the Board of Governors.

His other contributions include arranging for Andy Walsh to speak to us about United FC, designing our logo, and countless other things, too many to list.

So I’m devastated at the loss of Pete, as an outstanding trade unionist in our branch, but also as a colleague whose company we enjoyed immensely. He could laugh at himself, and laugh at all of us on the left – at our sometimes ridiculous behaviour.

I remember a story he told me about when he worked for a left paper, years ago, and the trouble he got in for saving a photo of their leader at the time, and naming the file ‘Uncle Joe’. It didn’t go down very well…

Pete was irreverent, and would laugh off any of the sectarian bickering that went on in the left. He was the real McCoy and he certainly wasn’t anybody’s useful idiot.

Pete truly was an unsung hero of the labour movement. He was much loved and respected by those who worked with him in our branch; he always stayed true to himself and his deeply held principles; he was a genuine leader who people would naturally look up to, yet he’d rather let someone else step forward and take the credit.

I was lucky to work in the same building as Pete in Jewry Street, and I shall miss him terribly. None of us can go for lunch with him on a Friday again, and whenever I get my bike from outside work, his will be missing. Typically, Pete was the first to joke about the recent loss of my front wheel to a thief just after a meeting with management (‘I bet it was Bowler’) – he was always able to make us smile.

We’ve lost a dear comrade and friend.

He was also a father, and partner to Mandy – and despite regular attempts to get him to stay behind for a ‘quick pint’ after work, his priority was always to go home to his young family. I can only imagine the pain and the devastating loss his close friends and family must be feeling right now and my heartfelt condolences go out to them all in their time of grief.

Our thoughts will always be with Pete.

Max Watson

-- See more here: Please follow this link for our memories of Pete McGreal.

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