04 July 2016
Trade Union Campaigner Who Grew up During Miners’ Strike is Named New President Elect of Wales TUC
A miner’s son whose father inspired him to stand up for workers’ rights is to be the next President of Wales TUC.
Mike Jenkins grew up in the coal mining community of Pontypool, South Wales, where mum Queenie was a nurse and dad Arthur worked down the pit.
A staunch trade unionist, Arthur also took part in the famous strike of 1984-5 which saw miners all over the country down tools in a row over pit closures.
He was just a teenager at the time, but their plight stayed with Mike, now 50, who went on to become one of the top trade union lawyers in the country.
He said: “My dad was a member of the National Union of Mineworkers and he also sat on the safety committee so I was very much brought up with trade unions.
“I remember the strike well, it was tough. He was out on strike for the whole time. Luckily my mum was still working, but it used up all the family savings.
“Once the ballot was taken for industrial action there was never any doubt that my dad was going to support it. He was totally behind the reasons it went on and what the unions were trying to achieve.
“I decided I wanted to work for trade unions and that’s been my whole career, acting for individual members and the unions themselves.”
After qualifying as a lawyer in 1992, Mike joined Leo Abse and Cohen, part of Slater and Gordon, in Cardiff where he set up a local branch of Unite the union.
His passion and popularity led to him being made Chair of Unite in Wales and from there he was elected on to the TUC General Council.
Colleagues on the council put him forward for the role of President which he will take on from May next year.
Mike, who now lives in Chepstow with wife Alyson and children Olly and Beth, added: “We represent nearly half a million workers from over 50 trade unions so it’s a big responsibility.
“I look forward to being a spokesperson for Wales TUC, addressing other trade union congresses and being at the forefront of any campaigns that the TUC run.
“I have worked in the trade union and labour movement all my life and I am a proud Welshman as well, so to be elected is a real honour for me.
“My father has died now, sadly as a result of lung-related illness associated with working underground for so long, but I think he would have been very proud.”