Issue date
10 Jul 2012

date: Tuesday 10 July 2012

embargo: For immediate release

Frances O'Grady is to take over from Brendan Barber as TUC General Secretary when he retires at the end of the year.

Ms O'Grady, who is the TUC's current Deputy General Secretary, was the only candidate nominated by unions and will become General Secretary Designate at the 144th Congress in Brighton this September.

Frances O'Grady said: 'This is a great honour. Never has a strong responsible trade union movement been so needed. With austerity policies biting hard and with no evidence that they are working, people at work need the TUC to speak up for them.

'We must be the advocates of the growth and jobs alternative. And with the policy prescriptions of the last thirty years increasingly discredited, we have the best opportunity in a generation to help build a fair, productive and green economy that works for ordinary people.

'Brendan has been a great servant of the TUC, well-respected both within and beyond our ranks. He leaves a firm foundation on which to build.'


- Frances O'Grady will be the first woman General Secretary of the TUC. She has been an active trade unionist and campaigner all her working life. She has been employed in a range of jobs from shop work to the voluntary sector.

- Before the TUC, Frances worked for the Transport and General Workers Union where she worked on successful campaigns to stop the abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board and for the introduction of a national minimum wage, equal pay for women, and on a range of industrial wage claims.

- In 1994 Frances was appointed as TUC Campaigns Officer and ran campaigns for equal rights for part-timers and against low pay. In 1997, she was appointed to head up the New Unionism campaign and launched the TUC's Organising Academy. As well as driving new recruitment campaigns in call centres, supermarkets and new media, the Academy 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 six million plus membership that is now 50:50 men and women.

- Frances went on to head up the TUC's organisation department in 1999 and reorganised local bargaining for skills projects into the unified national brand of unionlearn which has grown to help a quarter of a million workers into learning every year - a track record of success that continues to attract the support of hundreds of employers and public funding from the government.

- As Deputy General Secretary since 2003, Frances led on winning the 2012 Principles of Co-operation Agreement with the Olympic Authorities, guaranteeing on-site minimum standards for local jobs, health and safety and the London living wage. Frances has also led on industrial policy, arguing the case for a strategic approach to rebalancing the economy in the wake of the financial crash. Fair pay remains a core ambition and she represents the TUC on the Low Pay and the High Pay Commissions, and on the Resolution Foundation's Commission on Living Standards. Frances is a strong believer in protecting the public service ethos, opposes privatisation and leads the TUC campaign to save the NHS.

- Frances was born in Oxford, has two adult children and lives in North London.

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- Congress 2012 will be held at the Brighton Centre from Sunday 9 September to Wednesday 12 September. Free media passes can be obtained by visiting and completing an online form. Applications must be in by noon on Wednesday 29 August. Any received later than that will be processed in Brighton and will cost £50. Please note that the Brighton Centre requires 60 days' notice for telephone line facilities. Details available on the link above.


Media enquiries:
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Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: [email protected]
Elly Gibson T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07900 910624 E: [email protected]