ERNIE PURKIS – FORMER NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEMBER AND MEMBER OF THE RETIRED MEMBERS ADVISORY COMMITTEE

ERNIE PURKIS – FORMER NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEMBER AND MEMBER OF THE RETIRED MEMBERS ADVISORY COMMITTEE
I am sorry to have to inform branches that our dear long serving Retired Member and former NEC Member, Ernie Purkis passed away peacefully at home last Thursday, 19th January 2017. He was nearly 93 years old.
Ernie was born in Manchester in 1925. He served as a gunner in the Royal Navy during WW2. His working life started in Birmingham in 1947 when he commenced employment on the railway – and immediately joined the National Union of Railwaymen. In 1950 Ernie commenced work for the General Post Office and joined the Post Office Engineering Union Birmingham External Branch. He became involved in the union in 1956 when he joined the Branch Committee. Four years later he became an officer of the branch when he was elected branch Treasurer. 
In 1965 he was elected branch secretary a position he held for eight years. At that time the Birmingham External Branch was the largest External Branch in the POEU. Ernie was released from his role as an External Planning Officer to fulfill his union activities. Those who worked with Ernie during this time have said that he never lost touch with his members because he would make daily visits to the depots and work areas to talk to members about their work problems and any other issues they wanted to raise with him. He very much enjoyed talking to his members.
In 1973 Ernie stood for national office and was successfully elected to serve on the POEU National Executive Council. Ernie also became a union Trustee. He served as a member of the NEC until his retirement in 1986 – the year after the union merged with the CPSA (P&T Group) to form the National Communications Union (NCU).
Ernie Purkis was a lifelong socialist and member of the Labour Party for very nearly 70 years. He attended many Labour Party Conferences as a union and constituency delegate. He also was elected on numerous occasions to represent the union at various TUC Conferences and events.
In 1986 Ernie became a retired member and from 1989 to the present day was a leading member of the Retired Members Advisory Committee. He had attended virtually every single union conference over the many decades of his involvement. Those regularly attending CWU conference will recall his contributions from the rostrum, describing the struggles facing many of our retired members and his wish to see pensions, heath care and pensioners’ standards of living improved and protected.
Ernie was awarded the union’s Gold Badge a number of years ago and in 2016 CWU conference agreed to bestow upon him, National Honorary Membership – the union’s highest award. The personal presentation was due to take place at this year’s conference and we are very saddened that Ernie’s passing will now prevent this. We will ensure that the enormous contribution that Ernie made to the CWU and its predecessor unions – and the wider trade union and Labour movement will be properly and formally recognised.
As a trade unionist Ernie dedicated much of his working life to helping other people – and he has inspired and encouraged others in the branch and in the wider trade union to do likewise. I know there are many people across the whole union who are fond of Ernie and who will miss him very much indeed. He will be particularly missed by all his close friends and colleagues in the Midland No 1 Branch and of course, by those on the Retired Members Advisory Committee.
Our heartfelt thoughts are with Ernie’s wife, Ella – and other close family members and friends and I will on behalf of the union convey our deepest condolences and sympathies to them. 
We have yet to be advised of the funeral arrangements however when these are known we will contact branches again. Midland No 1 Branch Secretary, Ali Moosa can be contact directly if any further information is required – 07802 768527.
Any further enquiries regarding this LTB should be addressed to the General Secretary’s Office at gsoffice@cwu.org quoting the reference GS1.1
 
Yours sincerely
Dave Ward
General Secretary
Email Attachments – Click to download
LTB 036/17 – ERNIE PURKIS – FORMER NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEMBER AND MEMBER OF THE RETIRED MEMBERS ADVISORY COMMITTEE

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