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Obituary: Paul Wozny

Jonathan Joseph

IT IS MY sad task to report the death of my good friend Paul Wozny who died on 20 September. Paul died from a heart attack and was only 44 years old.

Born Pavel Wozney, Paul was brought up in New Jersey, USA, before moving to England in 1970. Paulís political upbringing was heavily influenced by his Polish father and a brother who was active in Solidarnosc.

Paul will be remembered as an active trade unionist who first got involved with the NUS (RMT) on the Harwich ferries and who was a full-time UNISON convenor when he died. He was also an active member of the Labour Party and a supporter of Socialist Outlook.

What stood out in Paul was his integrity and straightforwardness. He was wary of people initially, but once you had gained his trust he was always ready to talk and help. He was a merciless fighter for his principles and was feared by many on the right. But with his comrades he was always gentle and jovial and genuinely supportive.

Nearly 100 people attended Paulís funeral including many from the different factions of the left. It is a tribute to Paul that all these comrades looked to him for guidance in the work they did. He would give people help on such things as setting up union branches, or defending them against management, or on building Young Labour groups, or running a campaign.

It is a testament to Paul that in Southampton he has helped to build probably the biggest Campaign Group branch, one of the most militant UNISON branches (solidly supporting the CFDU) and one of the few functioning trades councils.

Paul was the best example of a militant activist that I have come across. What some people saw as crude, I saw as principled. He sought to build broad-based action, but didnít mince his words or get sucked into unnecessary compromises.

For the three years I was in Southampton he was my best mate and biggest influence. But this is something that many others might also rightly claim. His tragic death is a huge loss to the labour movement and the revolutionary left. The class struggle will be worse off without him.