Jane Loftus—socialist, trade unionist and working class fighter

Jane Loftus, who died last week, was an outspoken, working class socialist woman who acted as an inspiration to others like her. She was one of the generation of postal worker militants in the 1980s and 90s who led repeated unofficial strikes. The union branch in Merseyside was at the centre of that, and Jane was a big part of it.

Jane’s dad was a docker and her mother worked at Girobank. She joined the Post Office in January 1982 and was a union rep a year later. She was soon working for Royal Mail representing admin workers at local, divisional and national level. She joined the Socialist Workers Party in the mid‑1980s.

Always a popular figure in Liverpool branches, she was a militant trade unionist who never restricted her activity to fighting for pay and conditions. Right up to the end she was insistent that unions had to fight racism, war and environmental degradation.

The trade union movement in the 1980s was often quite hostile to working class women who questioned those at the top. Some union officials patronised her or treated her as a token who could be tolerated but not listened to. Jane never backed off from a fight against them, and lots of other women recognised that.

As part of the wider left, Jane was elected to the union’s national executive in 2002 and was prepared to contest the union’s leaders when they failed to represent the militant feeling at the base. But there was now less unofficial action.

Jane was elected in 2007 as the first woman Chair of the Postal Constituency and union national president. It led quickly to tensions with the SWP and in 2009 she left the party because we opposed a crucial national Royal Mail deal that she supported.

But she continued to work with our comrades and actively to support Stand Up To Racism, Stop the War and other campaigns. She also stayed a socialist who spoke at and took part in our annual Marxism event.

She was always enthusiastic about workers in struggle and was much more comfortable on a picket line than on the TUC union federation general council that she eventually was on.

Jane also took an interest in the lives, shortcomings, scandals and schemes of the union leaders and Labour Party figures she met. And she was happy to share her knowledge. It was almost impossible to have a short phone call with Jane. She always had juicy news and strongly-felt complaints to divulge.

We will all miss her terribly. Condolences and solidarity to Jane’s husband Chris, her daughter Joanne, her brother and sister, and all her family.

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