The Socialist Party is saddened by the death of Jim Barbour, a former party member and a stalwart of the workers’ movement.
After lengthy service as an active firefighter, Jim became a leading figure in the Fire Brigades Union (FBU). From a working-class Protestant background in Belfast, Jim gravitated towards the ideas of class unity and socialism, in opposition to the sectarian forces.
He joined the Socialist Party on foot of the 2002/3 FBU pay strike against the New Labour government. Partly under Jim’s influence, it was the Northern Ireland region which moved the motion for disaffiliation from Labour at the union’s 2004 conference. Jim twice stood as an election candidate for the Socialist Party, and went on to become a key figure in the We Won’t Pay campaign which defeated the threat of water charges by popularising the concept of mass non-payment. He was also active in the movement against the Iraq war.
While Jim had retired from his position in the FBU, he remained an important and influential figure in the trade union and workers’ movement, and will be deeply missed by many.We send our condolences to Jim’s family, friends and comrades at this sad time.