Papers of and relating to Rodney Bickerstaffe (1945-2017), trade union leader

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 152 BIC
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      177 boxes (101 [MSS.389], 35 [556], 6 [604], 12 [657], 4 [859], 6 [907], 1 [969], 3 [1019], 6 [1074] 3 [1161])

Scope and Content

These papers reflect Bickerstaffe's trade union career and other aspects of his public life. They include some items pre-dating his career and two scrap books on the Spanish Civil War and the war in China compiled by his mother in 1937-1939. Items with references beginning MSS.389/6/B were deposited by Bickerstaffe but they also include papers of other NUPE and Unison officials.

Administrative / Biographical History

Rodney Bickerstaffe was born in Doncaster on 6 April 1945. He was educated at Doncaster Grammar School and Rutherford College of Technology in Newcastle, where he studied sociology. In 1966 he joined the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) as an area officer in Yorkshire. He later became national officer responsible for members working in local government, universities and the water industry, and in 1981 he was elected general secretary. On NUPE's merger to form Unison in 1993 he became associate general secretary of the new union, becoming general secretary in November 1995.

He retired from the union in 2001 and from April 2001 until April 2005 he was president of the National Pensioners' Convention. He also held the following offices: trustee and chair of the Global Network (working with non-governmental organisations in Asia, Africa and Latin America); chair of the Ken Gill Memorial Fund; president and vice-president of War on Want; president of the Labour Party Movement for Travellers' Rights; trustee of the Jimmy Knapp Cancer Fund, the International Dalit Solidarity Network (representing India's lowest caste of Hindus), the John Smith Memorial Trust and Doncaster Hospice; chair of the Modern Records Centre Advisory Board.

He died on 3 October 2017.

Access Information

This collection is available to researchers by appointment at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick. See

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