Thursday, 23 June 2011

Tribute to Norrie Steele January 1931 - June 2011

Conference heard the sad news this morning of the death of Norrie Steele on Tuesday evening. Current and past Scottish secretaries Mike Kirby and Matt Smith paid tribute to Norrie.

“A surveyor, Norrie could always be relied upon to put trade union principles first in his many roles over the years.

“From an active member of his own Glasgow branch to the National Presidency, he provided leadership and wise advice to all, and inspired many to go on and play a role in the trade union.

“At UK level he was pivotal in the development of policy during a time when trade unionism was under great pressure.

“His leadership of the Industrial Action Committee supported many in struggle, often in causes not easily won.

“While a major player on the national stage, a significant contributor to the TUC, STUC and Chair of the union's Scottish Council, he never forgot his base and his beloved Glasgow branch.

“Even allowing for his national, and indeed international roles, he kept his feet firmly on the ground. He would regularly attend the council canteen and get involved in discussions with the members.

“Norrie was always engaging company and had a range of interests on which he was knowledgeable, especially his love of malt whisky.

“His ability to endure long days, late nights and yet be bright and alert early the next day, was often remarked upon by those of a weaker constitution.

“Many will have tales to tell of Norrie and time spent with him.

“Only someone of his modesty could get away with a seemingly throwaway line at a union committee while discussing Palestine. He prefaced his remarks with the wonderful, yet true remark, 'As I said to Arafat in Beijing last week.........'.

“And of course throughout all of his trade union years, his wife Marion was a constant support, while often wishing he would contain his all too busy lifestyle.

“We shall all miss him but are the better for having known him,” said the statement.

Norrie was over 80 and had not been in the best of health. A mark of the man was the shock and overwhelming feeling of loss that affected so many of his comrades and friends at the news of his death.

Jane Carolan spoke of Norrie’s keen following of trade union matters. She would have been set to report back to him on Conference next week as she had done for years.

Just recently, John McFadden emailed us all to remind us that Norrie and Marion would be only too happy to see old union colleagues coming round to visit.

Jane spoke of Norrie’s encouragement to her as a young activist. As far as he was concerned it was ‘when’ she would be on the NEC, not ‘if’.

Another colleague recalled his sense of fun and especially that he was mean mover on the dance floor.

We feel the loss strongly today and we will continue to do so.

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