Labour Research August 2012

Union news

Frances O’Grady becomes first woman in history to head TUC

As expected, Frances O’Grady is to be the new general secretary of the TUC once Brendan Barber retires at the end of the year. The only candidate nominated by affiliated unions, she will be the first woman in history to hold the post.

Apart from her general aptitude for the post, it is widely hoped her appointment will help dispel the old “dinosaur” image of the trade union movement still peddled in some circles.

O’Grady, currently TUC deputy general secretary, has been an active trade unionist and campaigner all her working life. Before joining the TUC, she worked for the then T&G general union. In 1994, she became TUC campaigns officer and, three years later, headed up the New Unionism campaign from which she launched the TUC’s Organising Academy.

As TUC deputy general secretary since 2003, she negotiated a set of standards for workers on the Olympics sites. She has also led on industrial policy, arguing for a strategic approach to rebalancing the economy in the wake of the financial crash.