Most people won’t know this but Gordon Thomson played a major part in the establishment of Scotland’s newest daily title The National. Gordon or Thommo as he is better known among his colleagues across the Newsquest newsroom left the building today and probably won’t be back. He was one of the most crabbit FoCs I have ever worked with, he nipped everyone’s ear and was fiercely critical of anyone that he thought was not a team player. A fine reporter and a great union representative who did so much for the membership of his chapel and he kept me on my toes. He was brutally honest and not always right in his criticisms but always felt he needed to tell things like he saw it, whether it was someone within the union or management he was targeting. He was a real fountain of knowledge about the workforce he represented, constantly picking brains of those in the know or ready to gossip on what had happened at a recent editors meeting or such like.
Thommo could be militant but always pragmatic, learning quickly of how to achieve short term and long term aims of the union. He had no option, he worked for Newsquest through the most turbulent times of the long history of The Herald and sister titles The Evening Times (where he worked) and Sunday Herald, and he eventually took over as FoC for all titles. That was after the former FoCs took redundancy leaving everyone feeling more than a bit vulnerable. However he stepped into the breach and with the support of the NUJ officials he rebuilt the chapel’s confidence and established a healthy respect as the new FoC. He was certainly no shrinking violet in taking management on. In a case which directly affected him personally he took the company to tribunal for discrimination after he lost his parking space, required as he had angina. Backed by the union lawyers he won a £10k award and his space back. He was given the “disabled” parking sticker as part of his going away package.
In his last battle the union was fighting the threat of compulsory redundancies with a number of people targeted for the chop. He led a ballot campaign which resulted in a 97.2% vote in favour of industrial action, the union threatened legal action and sought political support to supplement the fight. Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon met with MD Tim Blott and Sunday Herald editor Richard Walker and the next day a deal was cobbled to complete the voluntary deals and free the way to launch the new title, the rest is history or rather will become history and Thommo a part of a good story to end his career.