New TUC President elected in London

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date: 15 September 2011

embargo: For immediate release

Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, has been elected as the next TUC President.

Paul was elected at a meeting of the TUC's governing body - the General Council - and takes over from Michael Leahy, the General Secretary of Community.

Paul comes from a family of Irish immigrants who moved to West London in the 1940s, and he is proud of his working class roots. He started work at the age of 15 at Fuller's Brewery in Hammersmith, and then worked as an apprentice gas fitter.

While working for Hammersmith Council as a park keeper, Paul became active in the union. In 1979 he started working for GMB as a full-time official and he was GMB London Regional Secretary for more than 20 years.

Paul was first elected General Secretary of GMB in May 2006, and was re-elected unopposed in January 2011. As GMB General Secretary, Paul has presided over an unprecedented increase in the growth of GMB membership.

Gaining the only trade union recognition agreement with Asda Walmart within his first year as General Secretary after a hard-fought press and industrial campaign is one of his proudest achievements.

Paul's motivation comes from a strong opposition to injustice and a desire to fight for people at work. This is coupled with a belief that he can make a difference and that he has the ability to recruit others to the cause.

Teamwork is a key feature of Paul's style, and permeates throughout the GMB. Servicing officers, recruitment officers and staff all 'sink or swim' as a team so everyone can take pride in their achievements as a group.

Paul is proud of his union's campaigning achievements and cites examples such as Cedric the Pig against the city fat cats, as well as others highlighting concerns about private equity, Southern Cross, tax evasion and pensions.

Paul has strong views on how to run an efficient and effective trade union but he is clear that the foundation for this must always be to keep in touch with the day-to-day needs of the members.

In October 2010, Paul was appointed to the Executive Board of the Health and Safety Executive for a three-year term. The appointment - supported by the TUC - is recognition of GMB's long history of campaigning on health and safety issues, and gives GMB one of the most powerful and influential positions in the British health and safety system.

Commenting on his election as TUC President Paul Kenny said: 'I would like to say how much I am looking forward to being TUC President. The values of our movement are the only beacon of light for millions of people who deserve a fairer society and a better future. The union movement, with its campaigns for decency and social justice has more credibility, more consistency and more relevance than any politician.

'The TUC is a powerful force for good and I am very proud to be President for the year ahead. I look forward to playing a part in developing the TUC's campaign against the cuts, where community organisers can help the unions reach out to the local victims of the government's spending cuts, giving them a voice and help convince the wider public that there is a better, fairer option to austerity and deficit reduction.'

Paul is 61 and lives in north London. He has been married for 42 years and has two sons and four grandchildren.


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