Frances O’Grady quits the TUC after nine years

The general secretary of the congress will leave at the end of the year.

12 April 2022

The general secretary of the Trade Unions Congress (TUC) is to step down after nine years at the helm.

Frances O’Grady said she will leave her post at the end of the year, with a replacement elected at the TUC’s annual meeting in September.

The trade union chief was first elected to the position in 2013, making her the first woman to hold the role in the organisation’s history.

She said: “Leading the TUC has been the greatest honour of my life. It has been a privilege to serve the trade union movement.

“Unions are a force for good in British society.

“I am proud of what we achieved during the pandemic – from securing furlough to keeping people safe at work, championing equality and keeping vital services running.”

She added: “The last decade has been turbulent – with three general elections, two anti-trade union bills, an EU referendum and a pandemic to contend with.

“But on every occasion unions have risen to the challenge and fought for working people.”

Under TUC rules each affiliated union is entitled to make a nomination for the position of the general secretary.

Frances O'Grady outside Downing Street
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak with Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, and Dame Carolyn Julie Fairbairn, director general of the CBI(Dominic Lipinski / PA)

If more than one candidate is nominated an election is held at the annual Congress with each union’s vote being cast based on its total membership.

Ms O’Grady replaced Brendan Barber, having been involved with the TUC since 1994.

In 1997, she was appointed to head up the New Unionism campaign and launched the TUC’s Organising Academy, pushing for more women trade union members.

She became deputy general secretary in 2003 and led on ensuring staff working at sites hosting the London 2012 Olympics were guaranteed on-site minimum standards for local jobs, health and safety and the London living wage.

She also served on public bodies, including the Low Pay and the High Pay Commissions and has been a member of the Court of the Bank of England since 2019.

During the pandemic she worked closely with the Government in developing the furlough scheme which saw workers receive guaranteed levels of income while vast parts of the economy were shut down.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, tweeted: “TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady has been a great champion for working people all her life. She’s a huge loss to the TUC. I’ll always be grateful for her support and friendship.”

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