A Promise Kept: The Life and Work of Tom Chapman

Front Cover
Shepheard-Walwyn, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 128 pages
A popular and respected trades unionist, Tom Chapman was elected a divisional organiser of the Amalgamated Engineering Union in 1958, beating his communist opponent by one vote. This pitched him into the bitter struggle between the moderates and the hard-left who, in many cases, were financed and directed from Moscow. Such conflict could be treated as an ugly memory best forgotten, but as the hard left gained control of more unions, Marxist economic philosophy, with its essentially divisive nature, pitting labour and capital against each other, is returning to bedevil industrial relations and damage the economy. To stand for moderation and fair play in such circumstances needs courage and resourcefulness, as Chapman discovered when he was subjected to harassment and obstruction in carrying out his official duties. Despite this, he remained scrupulously fair, even fighting for a hard-left activist and known troublemaker who had been wrongfully dismissed. Chapman's strength was his Christian faith, unfettered by humbug, and his "secret weapon" was an all-inclusive love, by no means sentimental, that always tried to build bridges between opposing factions. Applied to industrial relations, he saw clearly that: "There are always two sides to every conflict in negotiation, but it is also true that both sides have a common objective. This common objective is the continued success or prosperity of the company, the industry, or even the nation". After leaving union employment, he was appointed liaison officer to the Church of England's Board of Social Responsibility, where he sometimes acted as the Archbishop of Canterbury's envoy to resolve damaging and protracted strikes at Vickers, Pilkingtons and Linwood. Later he formed the European Christian Industrial Movement to continue his lifelong work of building bridges between people. When a boy of 12, Tom Chapman dedicated his life to Christian service. This book is an account of how he kept that promise and gives a glimpse of how another Battle of Britain was fought where "so much [was] owed by so many to so few".

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