Rodney Bickerstaffe, the former general secretary of the National Union of Public Employees and its successor, Unison, has died at 72.
Mr Bickerstaffe, who was educated at Doncaster Grammar School and was later granted the Freedom of the Borough, led the union - Britain’s largest - until 2001.
He then replaced Jack Jones, the Transport and General Workers’ Union leader, as president of the National Pensioners’ Convention, which he served for four years.
The organisation’s general secretary, Jan Shortt, said: “Rodney was a passionate advocate for Britain’s older people, and often took on the Labour government over issues which he felt were wrong such as the refusal to restore the link between the state pension and earnings, and the way in which social care was means-tested.”
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Rodney, or Bick as he was known to many, was a great personal friend to many of us and a dedicated champion of all the union members he proudly represented throughout his career.
“He coupled a great sense of humour and love of laughter with a deep-rooted sense of social justice and commitment to Unison.”
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey added: “The union movement has lost one of its greats.”