Krajowy Sekretariat Górnictwa i Energetyki

Najważniejszy jest człowiek

With the great sadness we have to inform you of the death of former ICEM general secretary Fred Higgs, who passed away at the age of 68, following complications after a stomach operation some days earlier.

 

Dear Colleagues,
 
It is with great sadness that I have to inform you of the death of former ICEM general secretary Fred Higgs, who passed away at the age of 68 on Sunday(15.03), following complications after a stomach operation some days earlier.

Fred was elected ICEM general secretary in 1999, re-elected in 2003 and served until retiring at the end of 2006.
 
Fred joined the Transport and General Workers' Union (T&G) in 1967 and served as a T&G shop steward at Chloride Battery for 11 years. He was appointed as a full-time union officer in 1979 and he then went on to become the T&G National Secretary for the chemical, oil and rubber sectors.  In the 1990s, he became vice president of both of the ICEM and EMCEF.
 
Fred was strongly committed to supporting oppressed workers everywhere in the world.  He was actively engaged in the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa, in solidarity campaigns to help workers in Colombia, Palestine and other countries, and helped rebuild trade unions in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

 Workplace health and safety featured strongly in Fred’s work, through his membership of both official and voluntary industrial safety bodies in the UK and other initiatives at European and global level.  He was vocal in the fight for equality and women’s rights. 

 During Fred’s years as general secretary, the ICEM progressed considerably in the area of global framework agreements. Fred was also serving on the board of the UN Global Compact since its launch by UN general secretary Kofi Annan in 2000. He made a ground-breaking initiative towards multinational companies in the pharmaceutical industry about the need to provide HIV-AIDS drugs to developing countries free of charge.
 
Fred was given the T&G’s highest award, the Gold Badge, in 2007 for his achievements during his remarkable trade union career from rank and file through national structures to the top of a global union.

 Fred suffered during years from various health problems. In 2006, he was diagnosed with pleural plaques of the lungs, a condition brought about by industrial exposure to asbestos while working at Chloride Battery near London in the in the 1960s.
 
I had the pleasure to work with Fred since the late 1980s, in all his different jobs. I grew to respect his professionalism of a true trade unionist who had a deep understanding of health and safety and collective bargaining, and superb negotiation skills which helped unblock difficult situations so many times. We shared a lot of good moments together around the world, sometimes including his lovely wife Rita. Fred was such a good comrade – and I can still hear his characteristic laughter.

 In sorrow,
 Jyrki Raina

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