Aug 1927 Born in Melksham, Wiltshire. Youngest child of four. Father “Edward Gill” a plumber cum shopkeeper
1938 Wins scholarship to Chippenham Grammar School
1943 Starts draughtsman’s apprenticeship at Spencers, Melksham
1944 Elder brother Leslie, who is a serving airman in the RAF, is killed over Germany, aged 21.
1945 Campaigns for the Melksham Labour candidate during the General Election.
1948 Moves to London to work at Huwood Mining Machinery, joining Spencer’s colleague, George Stratton
1949 Joins the Communist Party
1950 Marries “Jaki” Manley, former wife of Michael Manley, who later becomes Jamaican Prime Minister
1951 Visits East Berlin for World Peace Congress and is arrested by US military police.
1953 Joins protests in Paris in support of Algerian independence from France
1960 Meets a group of Cuban revolutionaries while on a visit to Prague
1962 Elected regional official of the Draughtmens' and Allied Technicians’ Association (DATA), and posted to Liverpool, responsible also for Northern Ireland, and from 1965, Republic of Ireland
1963 Ken leads first strike – a walkout in Harland and Wolff, Northern Ireland. Shortly after helps organise strike at Plessey, Liverpool where Len Formby is the convener
1966 Marries Tess Gill
1968 First child Joe is born
Leaves Liverpool for London
Elected deputy general secretary of DATA and takes up position as Editor of the journal at union’s head office
1969 Second child Tom is born
Spearheads campaign against Barbara Castle’s industrial relations bill, In Place of Strife.
Visits Cuba with other trade unionists, including AEU General Secretary Hugh Scanlon. This is the first of several visits to the Caribbean island.
1970 Visits North Vietnam on TUC delegation at the height of the war.
Spearheads trade union involvement in the campaign to free African American civil rights activist Angela Davis, who he later meets when she visits London following her release.
1974 Third child Emma is born.
Becomes General Secretary of DATA’s successor TASS
With 7 million votes is elected to the TUC’s General Council.
Leads the struggle against the Labour government's incomes policy and attempts to restrict collective bargaining rights.
1976 Tells TUC Woman’s Conference that Britain was still a 'socially backward' country because of gender pay inequality
1979 Speaks on behalf of TUC following the 15,000-strong march in honour of anti-nazi campaigner Blair Peach, killed by police during a demonstration against the NF in Southall, according to witnesses.
1981 Becomes a member of the Commission for Racial Equality where he remains until 1987
1982 Speaking on behalf of General Council at TUC Congress, Ken warns against racial prejudice within trade unions, saying that black workers would form their own trade unions if prejudice prevented them from being elected to union posts
Early 80s TUC Race Relations Committee established thanks in large part to the lobbying efforts of Ken and his union.
1984 Ken and TASS assist NUM during the Miners Strike, with union facing sequestration under Thatcher’s new laws banning solidarity action
Becomes chair of the People's Press Printing Society, the cooperative which publishes The Morning Star newspaper
1985 TASS demerges from the AUEW
1985 Expelled from the Communist Party of Great Britain after rejecting calls by the “Eurocommunist” leadership to dismiss Morning Star editor Tony Chater and failing to support the party’s candidates to the management committee
1985/6 Becomes President of the TUC
1988 On Ken’s initiative, TASS guarantees deposit on Wembley Stadium to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s birthday.
Becomes joint general secretary with Clive Jenkins of Manufacturing, Science and Finance Union (MSF), a merger of TASS and ASTMS, which, following further mergers, becomes Amicus then Unite.
1989 Plays central role in establishing the Institute of Employment Rights, providing the first donation, office space and seconding current director Carolyn Jones from TASS legal department
1990 Meets Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow
1992 Retires from MSF and full-time work
1993 Plays key role in the founding of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign in the UK, becoming its first chair
1994/5 Meets Cuban President Fidel Castro for the first time on a visit to the island
1997 Marries Norma Bramley
2003 First grandchildren, Francesco and Tendo are born
2005 Third grandchild, Alessandro is born
2006 Fourth (step) grandchild Isabella is born
2008 Retires as chair of Cuba Solidarity Campaign
Mar 2009 Ken makes his last public speech at the launch of his book of caricatures, Hung Drawn and Quartered
May 2009 Ken dies, aged 81