Frances O’Grady has been appointed as the first woman to hold the post of TUC (Trades Union Congress) General Secretary when the present post holder Brendan Barber steps down at the end of 2012. She’s held the deputy post since 2003 and was the only candidate the unions nominated.
Hooray, it’s always heartening to see a woman step into a high profile post such as this, and particularly one so long associated with the men, although there are now more women trades union members than men, perhaps reflecting equality issues around pay and how much the cuts have affected low paid jobs. It will be interesting to watch her in action; her rival for the post was Len McClusky known for a knockabout adversarial style and generally doing his own thing.
No Stranger to Conflict
But Frances O’Grady is no stranger to dealing with macho institutions; her predecessor, Brendan Barber, put her in charge of negotiating with the FBU, the firefighter’s union, and sources say “she’s used to dealing with dockers and oil tanker drivers. Frances can manage the hairy arses”. (Interesting expression!) Her mentor, former TUC boss John Monks, describes her as having “diplomacy and charm, and imagination”.
Frances herself says:
“This is a great honour. Never has a strong responsible trade union movement been so needed. With austerity policies biting hard and with no evidence that they are working, people at work need the TUC to speak up for them more than ever.”
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Posted on July 11th, 2012 by Jane