By John Gilmore
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Obituary—Dave Ayre

Remembering a lifelong trade unionist and activist
Issue 2781
A picture of construction worker and socialist Dave Ayre in later life

Dave Ayre

Trade unionists and socialists in north east England are saddened to hear about the death of well loved and respected trade unionist activist Dave Ayre at the age of 90.

For many years he was a member the Socialist Workers Party and its predecessor the International Socialists.

Dave worked as a bricklayer from finishing his apprenticeship until he retired at 65. He was the Crook secretary of the building workers union Ucatt whose banner read, “Socialism Through Revolution.”

He looked after the best interests of his members without financial reward or favour. Thanks to Dave many local building workers won claims for accidents and illness.

Dave was also secretary of Wear Valley Trades Council for over 25 years. He helped to raise tens of thousands of pounds for workers in dispute or struggle.

He personally raised thousands of pounds during the Great Miners’ Strike 1984‑85, including large donations from trade unions in France and Germany.

Dave played a key role in the Building Workers Strike of 1972 and as a result was blacklisted by employers for most of his working life.

He helped organise the national campaign against the blacklist and eventually won some justice when blacklisting was declared illegal by the High Court.

He fought for almost 50 years to get the convictions overturned for Des Warren and Ricky Tomlinson, who were jailed following a 1972 building workers’ strike.

Dave co-wrote the book Flying Pickets about the 1972 strike and subsequent show trials.

He was a self-educated intellectual. He was a prolific reader on a vast range of subjects, including politics, philosophy, art and music.

Dave never sought the limelight, never looked for advancement or promotion and was quite prepared to allow others to take undeserved credit for his hard work. He never gave up.

Despite being in his late 80s he put his heart and soul into winning justice for the Durham Teaching Assistants in their dispute with Durham County Council.

On his 90th birthday in his care-home he was asked to send a message to his friends and comrades.

In his broad West Durham dialect he said, “Keep up the struggle, keep it gannin”.

Dave will always be remembered with great affection by trade unionists in County Durham and the north east.

He was a great teacher, friend and inspiration to future generations. Condolences to his partner Doris and family and friends.

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