Maria, who is an officer in the Greater London branch of the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU), will serve in the role for a year and preside over the TUC Congress in September 2023. She will also chair the TUC’s general council and executive committee.
Maria joined the CWU in 1988 when she started with BT as a telecommunications engineer. Before this she was a care worker for people with learning disabilities and then in mental health, and a member of CoHSE, now UNISON.
As a CWU National Executive Council member for 14 years Maria negotiated for communication employers to actively recruit more women to engineering roles, as well as campaigning for greater diversity in the workplace.
Maria was chair of the CWU Political Committee and is currently the vice chair of Labour Unions (TULO)– the liaison organisation between the Labour Party and the Labour-affiliated trade unions.
TUC LGBT+ committee chair
Maria is the chair of the TUC’s lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT+) committee and is elected to represent LGBT trade unionists on the TUC’s general council and executive committee.
Speaking after her election as President, Maria Exall said: “Every worker needs a trade union. In the current cost of living crisis, it is even more important that we stand together.
“Strong trade unions help build workplaces where all employees are respected and valued. When we look out for one another and stick together, then we are all better off. There is no place for prejudice at work. Our values are fairness and equality.”
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We are so pleased to have Maria as our President for the next year. Maria brings her wealth of experience as a trade union activist to the pinnacle of the TUC general council.
“As a proud lesbian, she is our first out LGBT+ president and I know will do everything in her power to champion equality, at work and in society.
“Maria’s optimism, enthusiasm, and sheer human decency have won her respect and affection at the TUC and beyond. Those qualities will be essential at a time when working people face the longest, harshest squeeze on living standards in modern history, and our unions are fighting for a fair deal.”
Maria’s mother’s family emigrated from southern Italy and settled in east London, while her father’s family were based in south-east London. Maria remembers spending many hours of her childhood travelling back and forth through the Blackwall tunnel.
Maria has a PhD in philosophy and theology. She is a practising Catholic and an honorary fellow at the Centre for Catholic Social Thought and Practice at Durham University.
About the TUC: The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together the 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.
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