Jose Netto – A pioneer for workers’ rights and trade unionism in Gibraltar

Unite, the union for workers in Gibraltar, has reacted with sadness at news of Jose Netto’s passing on September 25th aged 92.

Jose was a  pioneer for workers’ rights and trade unionism in Gibraltar. He worked as an apprentice mechanical fitter with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, joining the Gibraltar Confederation of Labour he became the youngest GCL shop steward and a member of the GCL executive.

He left the GCL in 1957 after he took a stance against conscription. He worked in London before returning to Gibraltar, working at the Royal Naval dockyard. He became one of the founding fathers of the Gibraltar Free Workers Union, in the early 1960s which merged with the Gibraltar Labour Trade Union who in turn merged with the
with the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU).

In 1972 he was elected a District Officer of the TGWU and organised the first general strike in Gibraltar’s history, which lasted five days in August 1972.

He stood up for the Moroccan and Indian communities in Gibraltar when they were suffering institutional discrimination. He also fostered good relations with Spanish trade unions.

Unite Gibralter in a statement said: “Jose  was a proud socialist and trade unionist and was one of the driving forces behind the growth and success of the TGWU and its predecessors. Jose’s achievements are many, but the General Strike which marked its 50th anniversary last year was chief amongst these. He was also a key campaigner for the rights of Moroccan workers in Gibraltar. Many of the campaigns that Jose led adorn the walls of Transport House today and are a reminder of the struggles which under his leadership and tenacity ended in victories for working people. Jose was and remains an inspiration for union activists and members in relation to the working class struggle, socialism, solidarity and trade unionism in Gibraltar.

“We have lost one of the union’s shining lights, it is a sad day for the union and for Gibraltar, we must take this opportunity to thank Jose for his incredible contribution to trade unionism in Gibraltar and he will be forever remembered by the union. Our sincerest condolences go out to Jose’s family and friends, a true working class hero has been lost to us.”

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