The death of Vic Turner as 2012 ended brought the curtain down on a very special life.
Vic was a Londoner, an Eastender born at Custom House in 1927 and who lived his whole life in the area.
His parents were William, a docker, and Emma Turner. He was the youngest of five boys and two girls.
He married Jean (nee Agass) in February 1951. She died in 1973.
He was told to join the union the day he started work in the docks with his father and brothers and became a rank-and-file activist, becoming a steward in the Royal Group. He was also a major influence in the national joint ports shop stewards committee.
The long, hard battles by dockers to end casualisation and to get good terms and conditions created a strong tradition of solidarity and industrial action at the sharp end.
Vic was part of the process that had seen Harry Watson, Jack Dash and many others build up the dockers' strength.
A proud member of the Transport and General Workers Union, now part of Unite, he was trusted during the differences between the "white" and "blue" unions and among different sections of the docks.
He was particularly proud of the traditions built up in the Royal Group as he worked with stewards such as Bernie Steer, Micky Fenn and Tony Merrick. Vic was also a member of the Communist Party.
The struggle came to a head in the 1970s as dockers took on employers who were using "containerisation" to attack terms and conditions.
The ruling class was trying to shackle unions. Labour had tried with the In Place of Strife white paper in 1969. Then the subsequent Tory government imposed the Industrial Relations Act.
This met massive opposition along with other Tory policies with battles at Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS), occupations in engineering and by the Fakenham women and miners and engineers uniting at Saltley Gates.
Dockers had played a key part. Vic was involved in organising support for UCS and for miners' children during disputes.
He attended joint meetings of stewards from different industries and the Liaison Committee in Defence of Trade Unions.
They also maintained the tradition of support for fellow dockers in other countries, supporting crews fighting ship owners or stopping materials destined for factories where disputes were going on - the solidarity action of the strong helping the weak which so terrifies the employing class.
This was the bedrock when the dockers' dispute came to the fore in 1970-2. Dockers picketed container depots outside the docks.
The employers used the new political court - the national industrial relations court - getting injunctions against the picketing.
But the dockers continued their action.
This culminated in the arrest in July 1972 of shop stewards - Vic Turner, Bernie Steer, Tony Merrick, Derek Watkins and Connie Clancy.
As the five sat in Pentonville prison workers started walking out across Britain. Docks ground to a halt, printworks started to close down, car and engineering factories and building sites shut down.
A rank-and-file general strike was starting. The massive show of workers' strength forced the release of the five.
Pentonville had lit a beacon for workers resistance as had Tolpuddle, the matchgirls, the dockers' penny and Red Clydeside.
Vic was part of the continuing battle for the dockers which went on for another 15 years, long after the publication of the Aldington-Jones report on the docks in 1974.
The pressures - from speculators, shipping and dock companies and their manipulation of new working methods - were formidable and the decimation of the dock industry is now often presented as inevitable.
But Vic and the stewards saw that there was an alternative - incorporating technical changes, employing dockers, meeting environmental concerns by using river transport and using gains in available dockland space for ordinary Londoners.
Vic carried on this battle after losing his job as a docker as Royal Group closed down. He started working for Newham council.
He stood as a Labour councillor and was elected for Beamerside ward in 1984. In 1977 he became mayor of Newham.
Humbled and inspired by the work of many local organisations, he also brought a different approach to the mayoralty - as when Harry Watson, a dockers' leader, died and the official limousine was filled with dockers for the funeral in Southend.
Elected president of the United Campaign for the Repeal of Anti-union Laws, he was always willing to talk to young trade unionists and took an analytical interest in political developments.
He came from the strong London tradition of wanting to remain among his fellow workers and work at a rank-and-file level.
His last big meeting was in July, when he addressed the 40th Pentonville anniversary on the Isle of Dogs, speaking beside Tony Merrick and Derek Watkins. He had always strongly supported this annual event.
At it he said: "It's a fight we have to continue. It doesn't depend on any individuals - it's about all of us."
But Vic's life shows the role of some individuals can be very important indeed.
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