Toggle high contrast
Issue date
A former call centre worker from Merseyside is set to succeed Frances O’Grady as TUC General Secretary when she retires at the end of the year. 
Paul Nowak

Paul Nowak, TUC Deputy General Secretary, was the sole candidate nominated by unions and will become General Secretary Designate at Congress in Brighton this September, before officially taking the post in January 2023.  

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Paul led union efforts to make ministers publish strong safe working guidance, negotiating significant improvements to ensure millions of workers had a safer environment to work in.  

Before joining the TUC, Paul had a variety of temporary and agency jobs as a call centre operator, a hotel night porter and a supermarket worker.  

Paul Nowak said: "It's an honour to be chosen as the next TUC General Secretary.  

"Working people need strong confident unions to fight their corner.  

"A decade of standstill wages, overseen by successive Tory governments, has left working people at the mercy of this cost of living crisis.   

“But unions are rising to the challenge and fighting back.  

“As TUC General Secretary, I will push back on attacks on workers’ rights, make the voices of workers heard, and back our unions to grow and win for their members and for all working people. 

“Before I was a trade union official, I had never had a permanent contract at work, so I know the anxiety of life in temporary and agency jobs first-hand.  

“I will be a General Secretary who fights for every worker.  

“It doesn’t matter if you work in a care home, a supermarket or a power station – everyone deserves decent pay, job security and dignity at work.  

“Join a union, get active and together we can win.” 

On succeeding Frances O’Grady, Paul added:  

“Frances is an outstanding champion of working people – and an inspiration to many as the first woman to lead the TUC.  

“From securing the furlough scheme in the pandemic to overseeing an increase in union membership during her tenure, she leaves a great legacy for working people, and I am determined to build on it.”  

Editors note

Paul has been an active trade unionist and campaigner his whole working life.  

He first became a union member when he worked part-time at Asda aged 17.  

Paul worked in a call centre for Cheshire County Council’s bus information line in the late nineties, after working on an agency contract in a BT call centre. He also worked as a hotel night porter. Before becoming a trade union official, Paul had always been employed on temporary and agency contracts, so understands the insecurity of never having a permanent contract.    

Paul was a member of the first intake of the TUC's Organising Academy in 1998 – alongside Sharon Graham, now General Secretary of Unite and Roz Foyer, the General Secretary of the Scottish TUC. Aged 26, he became an organiser for BIFU, the financial services union (now part of Unite). 

In 2000, Paul joined the TUC’s staff, later becoming Regional Secretary for the north of England and subsequently Head of Organising, reporting to the General Secretary. In 2013 he was appointed TUC Assistant General Secretary, and in 2016 Deputy General Secretary.  

At the TUC, Paul led the campaign against the government's plans for regional pay in the public sector, introduced the Leading Change programme to develop the skills of senior trade unionists, and worked closely with member unions to defend public sector pensions. 

Over the years, Paul has worked closely with unions and employers to negotiate successful resolutions to major disputes including at the Royal Mail and British Airways.  

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Paul led union efforts to improve the government’s safe working guidance with significant success, ensuring millions of workers had a safer environment to work in. He supported Frances O’Grady in securing furlough, and led campaigns for sector support for the cultural industries, aviation and transport.   

Paul is married to Vicky. They have three grown-up children and live on the Wirral, in Merseyside. Paul is of mixed heritage and is the grandson of immigrants: his grandfathers came to the UK during the Second World War from Poland and China respectively, before settling and raising families in Liverpool. 

- 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. 


TUC press office   
020 7467 1248  

Enable Two-Factor Authentication

To access the admin area, you will need to setup two-factor authentication (TFA).

Setup now