Socialist Worker

Phil Corddell 1953–2012

by Peter Alexander
Issue No. 2303

Phil Corddell, a south London trade unionist and anti-racist activist, died last month.

Phil was born in Portsmouth in 1953 and attended the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). At university he participated in an occupation of the SOAS switchboard and joined the International Socialists, later the Socialist Workers Party (SWP).

Phil was a committed anti-racist and took part in many protests against the National Front, including the pivotal 1977 battle in Lewisham. In 1982 he worked for the Anti-Nazi League.

After university he joined the civil service, building a strong base for the Civil and Public Services Association at the unemployment benefit office in Brixton.

Phil and another activist working there, Richard Cleverley, were sacked in 1980, allegedly for unauthorised absences from work. This was part of a wider offensive on rank and file trade unionists at the time.

The solidarity strike that followed gained national prominence, with front page headlines in daily newspapers.

The police implemented a “no more than six pickets rule”. Supporters responded by making and wearing badges stating “I am the seventh picket”, and defied the police.

The prominent coverage of the strike and the widespread solidarity shown towards Phil and his colleague, forced the employers to capitulate. Phil and Richard were reinstated.

Phil later trained as a biology lecturer.

He gradually dropped out of the SWP but never lost his socialist principles.

Despite his health problems Phil continued working until shortly before his death.

He was active in the NUT teachers’ union and in the recent strikes against the pension robbery.

He is remembered for his encyclopaedic knowledge, capacity to complete a Guardian crossword in three minutes, birdwatching, dedication to his students, loyalty to his friends and love of his family—and his unwavering commitment to socialism.

Article information

Tue 15 May 2012, 16:57 BST
Issue No. 2303
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