New TUC President elected in Manchester

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date: 16 September 2010

embargo: For immediate release

Michael Leahy, General Secretary of Community trade union, has today (Thursday) been elected as the next TUC President.

Michael was elected this morning at a meeting of the TUC's governing body - the General Council - and takes over from Dougie Rooney, a national officer at Unite, who held the post for the last 12 months.

Born and schooled in Pontypool, Michael left Twmpath Secondary Modern for the steel industry, securing a job as a chargehand at the Panteg Steelworks at the age of 16, when he also joined the Iron Steel Trades Confederation (ISTC).

Michael was soon elected to his branch committee and became a works representative at the age of 17, which led to him becoming the youngest ever member elected to the Sheet Trade Board, a national negotiating committee in the steel industry.

In 1977, Michael was employed as an Organiser for the ISTC working in Yorkshire and Humberside. During the 1980 steel strike Michael worked with steelworkers in the Midlands. He was promoted to Senior Organiser in 1986 and eventually elected Assistant General Secretary in 1993.

As Assistant General Secretary Michael was instrumental in developing the union's organising and learning agendas and the ISTC was one of the first unions to support the TUC's OrganisingAcademy. He also led the ISTC's political work and served on the Labour Party National Executive Committee.

Michael was elected ISTC General Secretary in 1999 and brought the union together with the Knitwear, Footwear and Apparel Trades Union to form Community in 2004. He was re-elected as General Secretary of Community in 2008. As General Secretary he led the campaign and legal action against the Labour Government on behalf of thousands of steelworkers who lost their pensions. The campaign eventually led to the creation of the Pension Protection Fund and the £12 billion Financial Assistance Scheme.

Commenting on his election as TUC President Michael Leahy said: 'I am honoured to be elected as President of the TUC and to be representing Community at the highest level. I want to celebrate and support the diversity of trade unions that join together under the TUC's banner. This unity and collective voice for working people is crucial as we campaign for a better alternative to the government's cuts agenda. I want to see trade unions reach out into every community to build support for our campaigns.'

Michael is President of the Steel and Non-Ferous Section of the International Metalworkers' Federation.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

- Register for the TUC's press extranet: a service exclusive to journalists wanting to access pre-embargo releases and reports from the TUC. Visit www.tuc.org.uk/pressextranet

Contacts:

TUC Media enquiries:
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: media@tuc.org.uk
Rob Holdsworth M: 07717 531150 E: rholdsworth@tuc.org.uk

Community Media enquiries:

Matt Ball M: 07799 772250 E: mball@community-tu.org

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