A MINER’S son from Pontypool is set to become the president of the Wales Trades Union Congress (TUC).
Mike Jenkins was inspired by his father, Arthur, to stand up for workers’ rights having grown up in the coal-mining community along with his mother Queenie, a nurse.
The 50-year-old takes over the position next month but begins his duties this weekend at the Teachers conference (NASUWT) in Manchester.
During the famous strike of 1984-5, his father, a staunch trade unionist, downed his tools among thousands of others across the country in a row over pit closures.
Despite being a teenager at the time, their plight stayed with Mr Jenkins, who went on to become a successful trade union lawyer.
“My dad was a member of the National Union of Mineworkers and he also sat on the safety committee so I was very much brought up with trade unions,” he said.
“I remember the strike well, it was tough. He was out on strike for the whole time. Luckily my mum was still working, but it used up all the family savings.
“Once the ballot was taken for industrial action there was never any doubt that my dad was going to support it. He was totally behind the reasons it went on and what the unions were trying to achieve.
“I decided I wanted to work for trade unions and that’s been my whole career, acting for individual members and the unions themselves.”
After qualifying as a lawyer in 1992, Mike joined Leo Abse and Cohen, part of Slater and Gordon, in Cardiff where he set up a local branch of Unite the union.
His passion and popularity led to him being made Chair of Unite in Wales and from there he was elected on to the TUC General Council.
Mike, who now lives in Chepstow with wife Alyson and children Olly and Beth, added: “We represent nearly half a million workers from over 50 trade unions so it’s a big responsibility.
“I look forward to being a spokesperson for Wales TUC, addressing other trade union congresses and being at the forefront of any campaigns that the TUC run.
“I have worked in the trade union and labour movement all my life and I am a proud Welshman as well, so to be elected is a real honour for me.
“My father has died now, sadly as a result of lung-related illness associated with working underground for so long, but I think he would have been very proud.”