Big British labor federation picks female leader

The Trades Union Congress, Great Britain’s biggest labor federation, with 6.2 million members, elected Frances O’Grady as its General Secretary, its top administrative post. She’s the first female chief executive of the union coalition.

O’Grady had been the confederation’s second in command as deputy general secretary since 2003. She led organizing drives in call centers, supermarkets and in new media. Before that, as TUC’s campaigns officer, she led campaigns for equal rights for part-time workers and against low pay, the union confederation said.

O’Grady also launched TUC’s Organizing Academy, which “set out to attract a generation of new ‘young guns’ into the trade union movement and shift the ‘male, pale and stale’ stereotype to a profile that better fits a 6-million plus membership that is now 50-50 men and women,” TUC added.

And she convinced British officials to set write an agreement with the Olympic movement for guaranteed “on-site minimum standards for local jobs, health, safety and the London living wage” during the Summer Olympics, set to start there in several weeks.

As leader of the TUC, O’Grady intends to emphasize “a strategic approach to rebalancing the economy in the wake of the financial crash,” keep pushing fair pay and continued protection of public service jobs, opposition to privatization of those jobs and saving Britain’s National Health Service, the union’s statement said.

Photo: Frances O’Grady


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.