Former carpet worker Dean Cox becomes new president of Community trade union

Elliot Chappell

Dean Cox has been appointed to the position of president of Community after having served as the vice president of the trade union for the past two years.

The new president today described his appointment as an “immense honour” and urged those not in a trade union to sign up, saying that “joining the right union will be the best insurance policy you will ever have”.

“After having served as vice president, I have seen first-hand the incredibly important work that Community reps and members across the country have undertaken to protect pay and working conditions, particularly during the pandemic,” Cox said.

“At times, the odds were stacked against us. Yet by standing together, we still managed to succeed. We beat fire-and-rehire at Clarks, we secured pay increases for our members during the current cost-of-living crisis, we protected the steel safeguards, the list goes on and on.

“The challenges ahead may seem starker still, but I look forward to meeting them and more with you all as your president.”

Following two months of industrial action, shoe manufacturer Clarks signed an agreement with Community in December last year after the company attempted to ‘fire and rehire’ workers at its Westway distribution centre.

The deal with Community, which followed mediation with Acas, is understood to protect hourly pay for established workers and increase pay for new staff at the site. Clarks had tried to reduce wages by almost 15% to £9.50 an hour.

Writing for LabourList at the time, Roy Rickhuss said: “Our members pay has been protected, and the threat of fire and rehire has been withdrawn. This is a fantastic result, and one that we could not have achieved without the countless people who gave us their support.”

The Community general secretary added: “This one battle may be over, but many more remain. Fire and rehire is still all too prevalent in this country, as we’ve seen at Weetabix and many others. Until the practice is banned, it could happen to anyone.”

Cox, a former Kidderminster carpet worker, is a Community branch secretary in the West Midlands, representing individual members in his area at disciplinary and grievance meetings. He is also a Wolverley and Cookley parish councillor.

He joined the Power Loom Carpet Weavers’ and Textile Workers’ Union in 1986. It later merged into the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation, which then became helped to create Community union in 2004.

Cox was elected as vice president of Community in 2020 by the national executive committee of the union. The vice president is elected biennially by the union’s governing body before then becoming the president for a two-year term.

Asked what he wants to achieve as president, Cox said: “I’m hoping to support each region, to grow membership in our traditional industries and new sectors, and work towards building an education project where we can go into schools and colleges and tell the workers of the future the good unions can do in their potential work places.”

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