Pete McGreal, 1967 — 2011

    Pete McGreal came on to our branch committee in 2009. Like many reps at the time, he got active in our branch when we were facing large scale job cuts. His job wasn’t threatened, but he did everything he possibly could to help save his colleagues’ posts.

    Like many union reps he was reluctant to get too involved but soon became a respected, central figure on our branch committee.

    Pete was easily recognisable as a ‘natural leader’: his peers looked up to him; he had experience; was popular, intelligent and had invaluable people skills. He’d already been a steward before and soon he was a Health and Safety rep. He quietly put up with the ongoing shenanigans of his work on the H&S committee and only occasionally came to the branch committee for guidance or advice.

    You could trust his judgement completely and we only really ever had to commit to backing him up whenever he needed it.

    Not only did we appreciate his experience and wisdom on the Committee, but also his skills as a graphic designer. He created by far our most beautiful and original leaflet (‘We are London Met’) which of course he took no credit for at all. He also quickly and simply laid out the design of our postcard that over 200 members of staff completed and posted to the Chair of the Board of Governors.

    His other contributions include arranging for Andy Walsh to speak to us about United FC, designing our logo, and countless other things, too many to list.

    So I’m devastated at the loss of Pete, as an outstanding trade unionist in our branch, but also as a colleague whose company we enjoyed immensely. He could laugh at himself, and laugh at all of us on the left — at our sometimes ridiculous behaviour.

    I remember a story he told me about when he worked for a left paper, years ago, and the trouble he got in for saving a photo of their leader at the time, and naming the file ‘Uncle Joe’. It didn’t go down very well…

    Pete was irreverent, and would laugh off any of the sectarian bickering that went on in the left. He was the real McCoy and he certainly wasn’t anybody’s useful idiot.

    Pete truly was an unsung hero of the labour movement. He was much loved and respected by those who worked with him in our branch; he always stayed true to himself and his deeply held principles; he was a genuine leader who people would naturally look up to, yet he’d rather let someone else step forward and take the credit.

    I was lucky to work in the same building as Pete in Jewry Street, and I shall miss him terribly. None of us can go for lunch with him on a Friday again, and whenever I get my bike from outside work, his will be missing. Typically, Pete was the first to joke about the recent loss of my front wheel to a thief just after a meeting with management (‘I bet it was Bowler’) – he was always able to make us smile.

    We’ve lost a dear comrade and friend.

    He was also a father, and partner to Mandy — and despite regular attempts to get him to stay behind for a ‘quick pint’ after work, his priority was always to go home to his young family. I can only imagine the pain and the devastating loss his close friends and family must be feeling right now and my heartfelt condolences go out to them all in their time of grief.

    Our thoughts will always be with Pete.

    Max Watson

    * * *

    Everyone who had the good fortune to meet Pete thought he was such a lovely bloke; my last memory of him was some friendly banter between him and the UNISON committee about an unintentional amusing webpage he had designed (a lone student in a lecture theatre — we laughed about the impact of the cuts going too far!). That was Pete all over I think, he could make you smile whether you knew him well or not because he was such a good guy. He will be sadly missed. My deep sympathies to all his close friends and family.

    Jonathan McCree
    Shop Steward (Harglenis Building)

    * * *

    Really sad news. Our UNISON branch has lost a very solid person. My thoughts are with his family.

    Megan Redmond
    Education Officer

    * * *

    This is so sad, Pete was such a sweet heart, you couldn’t have met a nicer bloke — Rest in peace Pete xx

    Claire Locke
    President, Students’ Union

    * * *

    Pete was a creative and generous man. He’ll be greatly missed by all of us at London Met UNISON.

    Daphne Chalk-Birdsall
    Health and Safety Officer (North)

    * * *

    I am so sad at this terrible waste of a life. I felt I was just beginning to get to know Pete as a witty and warm UNISON colleague after the HERA training we were on last month. I’m writing this in Helsinki, where there are bike lanes everywhere. When will this happen in London? Why not now?

    Sara Mason
    Equalities Officer

    * * *

    Pete was an excellent colleague in a tough job we did together fighting workplace stress — he was very supportive. Sympathy to his young family.

    Peter Cambridge
    University and College Union

    * * *

    Principles, realism and common sense all standing together and that more solidly so for them being together. Pete McGreal personified that, and with wit and humour to boot. All of us at London Met — friends, work colleagues and all of us at London Met UNISON remember him and always will. My deepest condolences to all of his family and friends.

    Alex Tarry
    Assistant Secretary (North)

    * * *

    Pete; what a great friend and colleague. We miss you so much. I still keep expecting to see you walk past our office door in your ‘Eric Cantona’ t-shirt and make some kind of funny noise or salutation, or stop in for a chat.  You always supported your colleagues in so many ways and yet maintained such a great sense of humour and playfulness. It was also evident that you were such a devoted father and partner. It’s inspiring. There’s so much more I could say. I feel privileged to have known you and spent time with you. Wishing you so much peace.

    Vajeeha Farooq

    * * *

    I have only just found out about the terrible news about Pete.  I met and stood with him on the picket line when UNISON Greater London Region supported the London Met strike in 2009. He was charming and very humorous company and he made the long hours of standing around go by quickly.

    Condolences to his family and colleagues at London Met.

    Greta Farian

    If you would like to share your memories of Pete with us please email:


    1. […] we felt the need to pay tribute to Pete and keep a page for our memories of him on our website. Please follow this link for our memories of Pete McGreal. 5 July 2011 | London Met Unison | No Comments […]

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