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Thread: Ernie Arney.................a different DT agricultural themed obituary

  1. #1
    Senior Member Footsfitter's Avatar
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    Feb 2013
    Basingstoke, Hants

    Ernie Arney.................a different DT agricultural themed obituary

    Mention unions and Red Robbo, Scargill and all the negative names come to mind, yet it seems this unknown to most of the country served his members well.

    Ernie Arney, who has died aged 90, became something of a legend in the labour movement as a champion of West Country farmworkers who would stop at nothing to win compensation relating to accidents at work, unfair dismissals and numerous other claims.

    From 1949 until 2005 Amey served as secretary for West Country branches of what began as the Agricultural Workers Union (subsequently part of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, now part of Unite), during which time he was instrumental in gaining payouts for his members totalling more than £4 million.

    It was said that hundreds of members, when asked what union they belonged to, would say “Ernie Amey’s”, not realising it had any other name. At the annual Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival, politicians and union officials would queue to meet him, hoping for a sprinkling of traditional socialist stardust.

    Tony Benn and John Prescott were among many Labour politicians who beat a path to his door, and in 1971 the then TUC general secretary, Vic Feather, presented him with a special citation for his efforts.

    Amey gained national fame in the mid-1980s when he tracked down Trevor Eve (then starring on television as the detective Eddie Shoestring) to America after the actor forgot to pay his gardener £78 in wages. “I traced 'Eddie’ to America, wrote to him and received a cheque by return for the full amount and costs of the trace,” Amey recalled. One local newspaper dubbed him the “Columbo” of the union after the tenacious television detective.

    Ernest Fredrick Amey was born on November 11 1923 at Cashmoor, near Farnham, north Dorset, and began his working life on a chicken farm while still a schoolboy. “My feet were ready to drop off... because so much walking was involved — pushing dung in a wheelbarrow and helping with feeding,” he recalled. By the age of 11 he was milking six cows by hand each morning and evening, before and after school, to help pay the rent for his family’s tied cottage.
    After leaving school aged 14 he began working on the farm full-time on a weekly wage of 7s 6d. In 1943 he joined the National Union of Agricultural Workers and in 1949 was elected secretary of the Farnham branch, where a handful of members paid sixpence a week. “I walked round their houses then. Most of them worked on the local estate, so there wasn’t much travelling,” he recalled. His first battle was for seven shillings and sixpence, owed by a farmer to a worker. He also helped farm workers keep their tied cottages when they retired.

    Ernie Amey's memoirs, The Million Pound Man (BRIAN MOORE)

    Amey proved so effective at signing up new members (his mantra was: “If you pay your dues you will be repaid a hundred fold”) that when a number of other Dorset branches of the union lost their secretaries, Amey was asked to take them over. He had to cycle up to 50 miles a weekend collecting their subs. As the years passed, he became responsible for most of Dorset and the southern areas of Somerset and Wiltshire.
    Amey often said that he felt like a missionary when canvassing for members, and until he was forced to retire he continued to call on those who needed personal visits to keep up their dues. “I have done my best and, although I never married and had a family of my own, I have hundreds of real friends, men and women who I count as my brothers and sisters,” he reflected. The largest payout he ever secured was more than £700,000 for a dairy worker who had been injured after being kicked down some concrete steps by a cow.
    As well as his union work Amey continued to do farm work and was employed as a “paper boy” for the Western Gazette for 50 years.
    In 2011 he published his memoirs, The Million Pound Man, co-written with Brian Moore.
    Ernie Amey, born November 11 1923 died June 14 2014

    From the DT Obits-


  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    south east Cambs

    Re: Ernie Arney.................a different DT agricultural themed obituary

    Thanks, FF.

    Now that's what a real union man should be doing - helping their fellow members, not political posturing such as those (and others) mentioned in the preamble.

    If the Unions actually did what they were supposed to do, they would have a lot more support. As it is, they continue to believe that they have a divine right to 'demand' that Government do this, that and the other without even stopping to think about the consequences.

    Today's union leaders are, in the main, a bunch of morons.

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