General Secretary dies at 59

Roger Bolton 1947-2006

Roger Bolton 1947-2006

Roger Bolton, General Secretary of BECTU since 1993, has died after a long illness.

He passed away on Saturday November 18 at home in Woking Surrey, aged 59, leaving a wife, daughter, and grandson.

Roger had been suffering from cancer since a diagnosis in Spring 2005, and spent many months in hospital undergoing treatment. However, he enjoyed a period of remission late last year during which he was able to resume his union duties.

Sadly, his illness returned in summer 2006 and despite accepting prolonged, and often painful treatment, he made no recovery.

Roger was first elected General Secretary of BECTU in November 1993, a position he held until his death. He had worked for BECTU and its predecessors - ABS and BETA - since 1979. His union career in the industry began while working as a photographic technician at the BBC, and for several years as a lay member he was a stalwart of the BBC TV News Branch in West London.

During his time in the trade union movement, Roger was involved in many struggles and led the union in a long but eventually successful strike over pay against the BBC in 1989.

More recently he led BECTU into complex legal action against the British Government in the European Court over its failure to implement the holiday pay provisions within the European Working Time Directive.

Although the risks were high - the legal costs of losing the case could have been catastrophic for the union - Roger saw the challenge through to a successful judgement in favour of BECTU. As a result, tens of thousand of freelancers across British industry now have the right to paid holidays.

Roger led BECTU and its members through many challenges. He leaves behind a solvent and united union in good shape to face the future.

Gerry Morrissey, Assistant General Secretary, said: "Roger fought his illness with the same courage and conviction he displayed when faced with discrimination and unfairness in the workplace. Roger will be sadly missed by his colleagues at BECTU, by workers in the audiovisual and entertainment industries, and by the wider trade union movement".

Roger Bolton's funeral will take place at 1430 on Monday November 27, at St. Hugh of Lincoln Church, 95 Victoria Road, Knaphill, Woking, Surrey, GU21 2AA.

Union members and associates who plan to attend the funeral are asked to notify Sandra Vickers by e-mail, or on 020 7346 0900. Transport will be available on the day from the union's Clapham Head Office - call for details.

Members of Roger's family have requested donations instead of flowers, to be sent to: Roger William Bolton Forget-Me-Not fund, Leukemia Research, 43 Great Ormond Street, London WC1N 3JJ. Cheques should be payable to "Leukemia Research", with a note indicating that they are for the Roger Bolton Forget-Me-Not Fund.

Alternatively, donations can be made online at: or over the telephone by calling 020 7269 9091.

20 November 2006