Pete Carter, RIP

October 26, 2011 at 12:04 am (environment, good people, Jim D, solidarity, unions, workers)

Pete Carter

Above: Pete Carter, trade unionist, orator and environmentalist, born 8 July 1938; died 11 October 2011

From the UCATT website:

It is with deep regret I have to advise you of the death of Peter Carter, a former UCATT activist and full time official.

Peter was one of the leading lights in the Building Workers strike in 1972. He was also instrumental with another UCATT activist Phil Beyer in organising on Bryant sites and, by February 1972, had abolished the lump and won a 50 per cent rise in the basic rate. The Construction News magazine called the agreement with Bryant “a watershed in industrial relations in the building industry.” Those who knew him believe he was one of the best orators the trade union movement has ever had.

The details of his funeral are as follows:

Friday 28th October 2011 at 12.15

The Sandwell Crematorium

West Midlands

Guardian obituary here


  1. Gerry Kelly said,

    I was a shop steward on Woodgate Valley B in 1971-2 and worked with Mick Shilvock there. Pete, Shilvock, Phil Beyer and me struggled together in Brum to kill the lump and organise the building workers.

    Pete was the best working class orator I ever heard and was a great organiser. We had a couple of years in Birmingham in which we fought a desperate struggle, acheived some great victories and also had some laughs. Pete was an inventive class warrior and we carried out some stunts that publicised our cause and made us laugh as well.

    I was tried with Phil Beyer and others at Birmingham Crown Court as a result of the Rotunda occupation. We were acquitted, mainly because Pete Carter was at the forefront of a ferocious solidarity campaign in our support.

    Two years ago, I went to Mick Shilvock’s house for a re-union with him, Pete and Phil Beyer. We had a good time discussing and reflecting on what we had done in the early 70s.

    The workers’ movement has lost a man who was a great rank and file leader.

    Gerry Kelly

  2. Jim Denham said,

    Thanks for those most interesting comments, Gerry.

    I didn’t know Pete personally, but when I came to live in Birmingham and became involved in the left in the early 1970’s, I was soon made aware of his reputation as a leading UCATT militant and CP member. I would undoubtably have had my differences with him, but I hope I would have shown him the respect he deserved as a committed trade unionist and class fighter.

    By pure chance I ran into someone (in the pub) yesterday, who knew him socially and musically rather than politically: Pete was, he told me, a very fine singer who at times was semi-pro with various bands.

    I am aware that he sided with the ‘Euros’ against the ‘Tankies’ in the 1980’s. That may explain why, while the Guardian has carried an obituary, the Morning Star hasn’t even mentioned him.

    • Gerry Kelly said,

      It is disgraceful that the Morning Star has not even mentioned Pete Carter. I was an IS member at the time I was I was active in UCATT and of course I had political differences with Pete and the other CP members in the union. I continued to disagree with Pete over a number of issues (I had quite an argument with him over the miners’ strike when I bumped into him in London in 1984 – he was, I thought, wrong in attacking the tactics adopted by Scargill and the NUM leadership – tactics he had advocated during the 1972 national builders’ strike) and I completely disagreed with the EuroCommunist line (just soft Stalinism, I thought).

      However, as a union militant and organiser he was outstanding and I seldom disagreed with him, Beyer and Shilvock on tactics . Further, it is disturbing that the CP is trying to airbrush from its history a man who at different times was leader of their youth organisation, their industrial organiser and one of their most prominent and influential rank and file union activist.

      I will be at his funeral tomorrow and will be sorry to say goodbye to him, but also proud to have served the labour movement as an ally of one of the best union militants I have ever known.

      Shame on the Morning Star! Despite differences between sections of the left, what unites us in our struggles is the collective wish for a better world for working class people.

      Gerry Kelly

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